Game Of Thrones: IS It Toxic?

Art's Visual Media Review

My wife and I watched this series, all five available seasons (at the time), in one big gory splurge.  Maybe that was our mistake.  It is addictive viewing, it has memorable characters and every episode ends with a cliff-hanger.

I’ll be candid and admit that we have been in an emotional slump.  My wife and I have had a difficult year.  That being said, perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to expose ourselves to such villainy and gore.  I can imagine that viewing this series one episode at a time might be less harrowing.  But who does that?  Are you kidding?  In this age of Streaming?

Nah!  Binge viewing is the thing we do.  Doesn’t everybody grab a series and watch every episode, one after another?  Don’t deny it.  TV isn’t a guilty pleasure any more. TV is survival, an alternate reality in which to hide from our terrifying world.

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Game of Thrones is High Fantasy.  It has the medieval world-set, the armor, weapons, horses, castles, all that stuff that goes into High Fantasy.  It has dragons, magical creatures and a looming menace that evokes our own present-day world with its apocalyptic terrors.  As we watched we found that our depression began taking on a more vicious edge.  Our dreams were disturbed.  My wife muttered curses in the night and I went on a sleepwalking excursion, standing at the window completely unaware that my junk was exposed beneath the wrinkled edge of my t-shirt.  I think I was waiting for some demon to creep into our home to steal our souls.

As a writer I must always ask a question of the story I’m writing: Is this story worth being told?  If I apply that yardstick to Game of Thrones, I’m not sure it passes muster.  Without the genius of Peter Dinklage playing “the imp” I wouldn’t have gotten sucked into the plot.  Acting is an interesting process to watch.  Great actors take good roles and define them for all history.  Dinklage will hereafter always be known for his Tyrion Lannister role.  Before Tyrion he was a famous dwarf and an actor.  Now he is far more famous and completely identified with his character.  No one cares that he has short legs.  He has earned RESPECT. He carried Game of Thrones on his talent.  The series is unimaginable without the work of Peter Dinklage. 

There were so many beheadings, throat slittings, impalings, knives to the gut, arrows through the throat, squished eyeballs, spear thrusts through-and-through that it became like a creeping poison, leaking from the TV screen and crawling along the margins of the room, heading straight for our vulnerable psyches.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  No one forced us to watch this wretched excess of medieval mayhem.  We watched.  We were sick with flu, flattened with fibro, fucked up with gastric distress, hamstrung with hernia….and we watched ten thousand extras get squashed by rocks and broiled with flaming oil.  Oh, what a violent series!  Add a healthy dollop of perfect naked titties and asses, muscular adolescent boys all frolicking with one another and whaddayaknow?  It’s really all sex and violence, tits and ass.  I can imagine the producer shouting on the set:  “Did we book enough tits today?”   He points to a Production Assistant. “We’re running out of tits!  You, boy! Go find some tits, get out there on Sunset and round up a few dozen nice tits.  Get some handsome boys while you’re at it. We need some asses, too….make sure they’re eighteen and have them sign their releases.”

Game Of Thrones.  It was a relief when Season Five ended.  We’d had enough.  It was like eating a whole bag of miniature Reeses Pieces.  It made us sick.

It was delicious when we started.  Then it got a little cloying but we couldn’t stop.  Then we wanted to puke and still we couldn’t stop.  It was crazy!  Get us to some Hallmark Entertainment, or….some Disney.  No, wait.  When you look deeply enough into Disney you find shit that’s even more creepy than Game Of Thrones

Now, the temptation to watch Season Six looms ever more seductively.  


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


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6 Comments on “Game Of Thrones: IS It Toxic?”

  1. I’ve read the first four books pretty much sequentially and then stopped when I realized the series wasn’t finished yet. I was not about to get sucked further into something I didn’t know was going to end! After seeing a couple ads for the tv series I knew I wouldn’t be watching it. The books were great, but gory. The gore and the horror didn’t need to be “enhanced.” Now that I’ve had time away from the books, I doubt I’ll go back and read the rest if and when Martin ever gets around to writing the final “chapter.” As you experienced with the show, it was an addictive pleasure that became less pleasurable as time went by. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in ancient Rome. The only difference is that we don’t go en mass to the circus. We watch it at home. Blood and gore to keep us from focusing on the world around us. My only comfort is knowing that life went on after Rome fell and it’ll go on after we collapse from our own moral ineptitude.

    • artrosch says:

      Thank you all for your replies. I haven’t read the books. Maybe I should have, but it’s doubtful that’s going to happen. It’s the kind of thing I read, normally, but when I see George RR Martin’s self-satisfied grin I feel an aversion (not because he looks like a troll) and don’t want to have anything to do with him or his works.

  2. It is quite amazing how we carry on watching even when we are no longer really enjoying a series. I have not watched this one or read the book. My mother has done both and my son (16 years old) has read some of the books. Greg didn’t think this series matched up to Lord of the Rings and spent a week reading up on all the negatives about it to support his view.

    • I read the first book, and while it was enjoyable enough and I had no trouble becoming immersed in the world, I’ve not pursued reading further. As I understand it the rest of them are more of the same. I have not seen the series.
      I will say I liked Martin’s writing style and the way that he headed each chapter with the name of the character, so there was no question in the reader’s mind whose POV they were seeing things from was helpful to me in keeping the characters straight in the beginning. Toward the end, clarification was no longer needed, so that started to feel a little redundant though. And it’s probably not one I would read again.

  3. artrosch says:

    Since I was ten years old my most beloved fantasy writer was Jack Vance. He was immensely prolific but it’s hard to find his books in libraries. I re-read his entire oeuvre every five years. Start with the Lyonesse Trilogy, or Planet Of Adventure. His color, his humor, his breadth are stunning and put other writers in the shadow of his genius. He lived in Oakland and passed about ten years ago at the age of 96. He published more than a hundred novels, including mysteries under the name John Holbrook.


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