So I’ve been thinking a lot about the fan reactions to this season’s “Game of Thrones,” especially its penultimate episode, the so-called Red Wedding.
Three sympathetic characters were unexpectedly murdered. I jumped on Twitter minutes after the initial airing. People were nuts.
It was unusual. And I wondered: Are people getting really soft? Do they lack the fortitude for tragedy?
Part of it is the modern transition of cinematic writing to television. Movie theaters are strange places. We know that terrible things can happen there. The guys in “Easy Rider” die. So do Butch and Sundance. Sonny and Fredo. And poor Private Mellish in that knife fight. (That bothered me more than any movie death I can remember.) Good people die in movies. But television comes into our homes and aligns itself with our domestic lives. And for most of television history, people didn’t die, not much. Not unless the actor died or wanted to leave the series. Colonel Blake. Chuckles. I’m probably missing a few. Mostly, on television, the nice people come back every week, because that’s the way the medium works.
Cable television changed the rules. Adriana. D’Angelo. Lane. Half the people on “Walking Dead.” And it’s more of a violation for having been beamed into the home on a domestic appliance. You pay the bill for that murder or suicide right alongside the light bill and the water bill.
The Red Wedding bothered people even more than those other cable deaths. It was ugly. It was brutal.
But the other subtext of “Game of Thrones” is the broken system which very few people are interested in fixing. And twice now, George R.R Martin has killed off characters who were dangling a vague promise of moral action.