George Schmidt discusses the moral universe of the Game of Thrones HBO series at Religion Dispatches:
HBO’s Game of Thrones returned for its third season on Sunday having already inspired a variety of media, from a Helmut Lang line of clothing to satires like School of Thrones, Game of Cats, and a ’90s version of the opening credits (set, of course, to Queen’s “I Want It All.”) Like the novels on which the show is partly based, Game of Thrones has resonated with viewers in a way that only a handful of shows have.
Among nerds and an assortment of geeks, “the American Tolkien,” to quote Lev Grossman, has always held a degree of interest, but it took HBO’s Emmy award-winning adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s work to make it a fashionable topic among the wilder shores of journalism and academia. In fact, Wiley, the same publishers who brought us titles like Transformers and Philosophy, released an addition to their “And Philosophy” book series called—you guessed it—Game of Thrones and Philosophy.
It took the writers of Saturday Night Live (see below, ed.) to uncover the adolescent-boy ideology at work in the frequent and gratuitous nudity and violence, depicting Martin’s collaborator in the HBO series as a 13-year-old boy by the name of Adam Friedberg. Regardless of Friedberg’s influences, the HBO series and particularly the novels collectively referred to as A Song of Ice and Fire have not gained currency simply by speaking to capitalism’s ever-increasing demand for gore and female objectification. Rather, Martin’s work speaks to the progressively complex power dynamics we must navigate and make sense of in a post-Cold War world.