A story in recent weeks got me thinking about the nature of our human species and the ways our evolution appears to be falling behind the fearsome speed of technological innovation. Be warned – this piece contains no spoilers but will further the odd generalisation.
Most of us will know that one of the more successful television series in history ended last week. Game of Thrones has been a huge success for HBO, its creators and cast, and accumulated a vast, and very opinionated audience over the course of its eight seasons. I’ve seen it and enjoyed it. It doesn’t rate as highly as other television shows I’ve avidly followed, such as The Sopranos, or Madmen, but it’s been a hell of a ride – rife with plot twists, epic battles and Machiavellian threads from deeply committed and well resourced baddies.
“If my grandma were still alive I know she would have some pithy comment to make about this sort of behaviour . . .”
The last season contained six episodes – shorter than the normal amount in a series – but all of them were of movie length and packed with drama, intrigue, and millions of dollars. As the series progressed I couldn’t help but notice the growing online dissatisfaction of a substantial number of fans who were mightily piqued by the way the story was developing. A petition was organised to direct HBO to start again and produce a story line to satisfy the malcontents. “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers” hosted at change.org has nearly 1.6 million (and growing) petitioners – all demanding that something be done to alleviate their dissatisfied selves. If my grandma were still alive I know she would have some pithy comment to make about this sort of behaviour – and in her particular Irish way, it would contain the word ‘feck’.
“But in this age of introspective media bingeing, audiences somehow feel obligated to become involved in the process of creation.”
Who would be so motivated to do such a thing, and what has happened to us as audiences that we feel somehow entitled to complain when a story doesn’t cut our own particular mustard? Would Elizabethan theatre goers engage in heckling the players of a Shakespearean play, forcefully objecting to the death of a character they liked? Would Victorian novel readers turn up at Charles Dickens’ house demanding that Oliver Twist be rewritten because they felt that the character arcs were not quite believable? No, they wouldn’t. But in this age of introspective media bingeing, audiences somehow feel obligated to become involved in the process of creation. It really doesn’t work that way. Like a child at the dinner table, we are given what we are given and, to quote my grandma again, we can like it, or lump it.
“Lumping it isn’t the popular choice in this day and age of humans with cell phones in their constant and immediate vicinity.”
Lumping it isn’t the popular choice in this day and age of humans with cell phones in their constant and immediate vicinity. Years ago we we were all sold on the marvels of ‘the information superhighway’ but like all highways there are some great drivers, a large amount of average ones, and a proportion that just shouldn’t be on the roads. Everyone’s opinion is instantly transportable to comment threads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and swathes of other online platforms. Personally, I reminisce on previous days when we sought out opinions are were not bombarded by them, wherever we turned. I would certainly have never considered complaining about the nature of a movie, or television show. I’d just watch them, enjoy them, or not. That really is the nature of the relationship between the audience and practically every type of media creation.