While Tinseltown gets on with outing the sex pests in its senior ranks it’s too soon to say if it will extend the same quality control to its end products. House of Cards may have folded, but since neither Messrs Weinstein nor Spacey have skin in the Thrones game we can look forward to at least one more throat-cutting, taboo-breaking, disbelief-suspending season.
And if HBO wants to keep breaking ratings records GoT-heads can also look forward to many more scenes in which male authority figures abuse younger women with impunity in the kind of steamy HD close-up that would fall foul of the PC regulations of free-to-air channels. There’s no reason to suppose that the actresses who submit so graphically to the sexual predations of powerful older men in these scenes ever felt obliged to submit to the sexual predations of powerful older men during the casting process.
If ratings were all Netflix management cared about they wouldn’t have been so quick to wash their hands of Mr Spacey. After all, if true the accusations levelled at him would only make his most enduring small screen creation that much more bankable. ‘Is this acting or improv?’ we would text each other in ever increasing numbers as Frank ‘watch and learn, Machiavelli’ Underwood orchestrates his next outrage. Such blurring of the line between fiction and reality is very much de nos jours, and when the dust of Gropegate has settled, and its highest-profile casualty has reconciled himself to life in a Nepalese monastery, he’s sure to see the funny side of getting fired from the post of fictional POTUS because of historical misconduct only months after identical and much more recent allegations failed to dent his real life counterpart’s prospects of seeing out at least one term.
The only thing networks fear more than offended minorities is leaked storylines, and these days it’s not unusual for a high-rating series to have two different endings ready to air in case one gets hacked and shared. These two endings have to be not just substantially different, of course, but also equally plausible. So, for a drama about a man secretly in love with a co-worker the screenwriters might supply the following ending options: In version 1 the man gets drunk at the office party and tries to kiss the girl, and the girl responds warmly, and they get engaged and the man gets promoted. In version 2 the girl accuses the man of harassment, denounces him as a sex pest and he loses his job and all his friends. The show could be called Game of Chance.
Unlike the rapper Snoop Dogg I’ve never believed that Game Of Thrones is a dramatisation of British medieval history. But I’ve begun to suspect that, having exhausted the plots of the novels on which it’s based, the scriptwriters are now turning to modern geo-politics for inspiration.
It was at an Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council journos lunch a few months ago that this first occurred to me. One of the topics covered by the visiting speaker, courageous Tel Aviv-based columnist Avi Issacharoff, was the extent to which Israel is currently cooperating more or less peacefully with countries which, for most of its existence, have been its sworn enemies. I may have found this less surprising than most of my fellow lunchers, having watched the concluding episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones only the previous evening. Season 7, as some Speccie readers may not know, is the one in which, having been at each other’s throats for the preceding six seasons (read ‘since 1948’) the ruling houses of The North, The Vale, The Riverlands, The Westerlands, and The Stormlands (read ‘Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq’) team up with an oppressed and stateless nation called The Wildings (read ‘The Kurds’) and a liberating interventionist military coalition armed with dragons (read ‘the USA’) to counter the common threat posed by The White Walkers, a terrifying horde hell-bent on destroying everything and killing everybody, including themselves (read ‘Isis’).
International relations isn’t the only complex contemporary issue on which Game of Thrones can shed light, by the way.
‘Winter is coming’ may be the only truly reliable climate change prediction anyone has ever made.
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