If you’re getting bent out of shape about a TV show, you have problems.
Yes, I’m referring to Game of Thrones and people’s reactions to it. The same crowd that told Star Wars fans to get over the desecration of a beloved franchise that was The Last Jedi is crying about Daenerys being evil or whatever.
Look: It’s Game of Thrones. The whole point of the series is to be the anti-Tolkien. Subvert, invert, and perfect. What part of there are no good guys is so hard to understand?
It all underscores a broader point: pop culture has replaced actual culture, including religion, in so many people’s lives.
This was bound to happen in a place like America, where our formerly cohesive nation and culture has, for a century, been bastardized and twisted beyond all recognition into a mish-mash of hostile groups tenuously held together by the threat of force. Brian Niemeier has gone into greater detail about this aspect, so I refer you to his blog.
What I want to talk about is why pop culture, especially modern pop culture, is a piss-poor substitute for actual culture: the message.
Take a moment to think about the messages storytellers are pushing on children. Now think about what they’re pushing on adults.
Unfortunately, given the utter destruction of Western high culture, pop culture really is all we’ve got.
Christianity offers hope, forgiveness, redemption, a clean slate, and a way to combat the material evil in this fallen world. What does pop culture offer?
All stories are lies, and all storytellers are professional liars. It’s called “fiction,” after all. But even supposedly apolitical works have a message.
Stories are rhetoric. The best rhetoric points towards a truth. A story–a fiction–seeded with truth is powerful and beneficial. The important thing isn’t the lie, but what the lie teaches.
A well-told story–a well-told lie–can still be destructive if it’s seeded with more lies and points towards evil or untruth.
This is where most pop culture is at today. It’s propaganda designed to make you think, feel, and ultimately vote a certain way.
Enter Game of Thrones. I’ve read the books, and while entertaining, they’re nihilistic to an off-putting degree. They sow despair.
Some people like this, I suppose. They elevate Game of Thrones and Marvel movies and Star Wars into religions in all but name only. Actually, there are wackos who think they’re Jedi; how long until other wackos think they can talk to dragons or whatever?
The various Churches are partly to blame for surrendering the culture to secular forces. But something has to give, and indeed it seems to have started.
Maybe every bitter, angry person mad about a TV show character they loved being a murderous megalomaniac will take the realization that they’ve been wasting their time, attention, and energy on pure nihilism in service of lies and will then try to reconnect to something true.
Does this mean going back to church? Probably not. Not at first.
Maybe this’ll get them to rethink their former enjoyment of depressing brutality.
Maybe this’ll get them to rethink a lot of other things about the life and philosophy they’re being force-fed by the lords of this world.
And maybe . . . maybe after a lot of this soul searching, they’ll start to wonder about the stories and lessons and morals that built the civilization in which they exist in the first place.
After all, Jesus told stories.