It is not normal for a society to be this unequal, hence we cannot adopt a classical approach to our challenges, writes Ralph Mathekga.
Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones." (HBO)
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I have no problem whatsoever if you're a Throner. If you know your White Walkers of Westeros from your Night Watches or if you're fluent in Dothraki or whatever warlock language it is they speak, all wrapped up in scraggly fur in badly lit caves. I am totally fine if you find your escape in watching cousins rape and kill each other and people freezing to death in the stark white snow. If that's your thing and it brings you joy, cool.
I get that it's a bit of a cult and 17.4 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the 8th season premiere on Sunday night. It must be pretty epic and have high production values if so many people love it that much. I'm not a fan of fantasy drama so I've just never really got into it. I find it too dark and too violent for escapism from a reality that is already dark and violent. Also, the family tree seems weird and the cast so extensive that it is exhausting to remember who fits in where and what their names are. Kind of like the South African political landscape.
So on Monday morning when my social media timelines were flooded with deep analysis and emotional reaction from those who woke up at 03:00 to feed the GoT hunger, I posted what I thought was a relatively innocuous tweet.
Hi my name is Mandy and I have never watched one episode of Game of Thrones and I’m ok with it.— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) April 15, 2019
Hi my name is Mandy and I have never watched one episode of Game of Thrones and I’m ok with it.
It was like I had unleashed Daenerys's dragons. (I had to google all these names and show references, obviously).
As you can see, my little Twitter post got a considerable amount of reaction. A lot of it was from people who shared my position and who expressed interest in joining my GoTAnonymous support group. There are a surprisingly large number of people out there who don't watch the show, actually.
But what really blew the snow out of me was how much hate there was that I had felt the need to post in the first place that I don't watch the show. I discovered that it's actually 'a thing' – people proudly professing to not watching Game of Thrones really infuriate people who do watch the show. And apparently non-GoT watchers are like Crossfitters or boys who went to Bishops – they feel compelled to announce it to everyone.
One kind follower offered me a reward. "What do you want? A noddy badge?" she responded. There was also this friendly meme, amongst a barrage of others.
"But why do you GoT watchers get touched when somebody says they've never seen it or are not interested in it? If you can tweet about watching it others can also tweet about not watching it. It's got nothing do with you and doesn't affect your enjoyment of the show."
This response really resonated with me. Why do Throners feel so touched that I said I don't watch the show?
It doesn't mean that I'm never going to watch it. Actually, I was so taken aback by the response that I did try and watch Monday night's premier. There was a lot of snow, a lot of marching, a funny crack about balls, someone called Bran and Jon Snow riding a dragon but then I got a bit bored. I do think I'll try and watch the series from the very beginning one day when I find two days, 17 hours and 32 minutes (according to bingeclock.com), purely because my curiosity has been piqued.
There were a few considerate followers who did try and give me a crash course on GoT and convince me to watch it. When they put it like this, it does sound kind of appealing.
"I'll do a spoiler alert for you then. It's a bit like the EU & Brexit. The men fuck things up hugely for centuries, then the women come in and save the day. The most powerful woman of them all has dragons. In the Brexit version, Theresa May thinks she has dragons but doesn't," explained one.
But this explanation I totally understood.
"Kings Landing is a bit like Bedfordview but they use swords and instead of drive-bys in fancy cars they go with dragons. Xenophobic levels are similar and they even raise people from the dead. So all pretty SA standard. They also have a Trump wall."
Personally, I prefer fact to fiction and it sounds like all the intrigue, drama and politics of Westeros is our everyday news cycle anyway.
- Wiener is a specialist reporter for News24.
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