Do Not Be That Fan

I am going to give my honest opinions about that “controversial” ending to Game of Thrones (GoT). But before I do, let me specify that this post is not only about GoT. It is about fans and the world we live in today. I will just be using the series as an example to support my points about fan etiquette (if there is such a thing).

Let’s begin. Did I love the final season of GoT? Absolutely not. Did I hate it? No. Was I disappointed? Yes. Am I okay with the finale to the degree I can part ways with the show? Also yes. Many of you will have disagreed with probably at least three of those questions. I just want to clarify that whatever your feelings about this final season are, they are valid and you can absolutely be confident you are justified in your opinion.

However.

If you are one of the 1.5+ million people who had the audacity to sign a petition to “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers,” you are the poison of this fandom and I am urging you, please, do not be that fan. I will get into why actively signing a petition for a remake is so counter-productively detrimental in a moment.

Let’s start with something obvious though, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff (referred to as D&D now apparently despite Dungeons & Dragons using it forever) are extremely competent. They made us fall in love with this show. They have been working on it since episode one. Yes, they had the source material as a guide and those training wheels fell off around season 6. Regardless, they have done a great job. We can’t deny seasons one through seven were great. The reason you may be upset now is because you like the show that much. I wish that everyone who didn’t like the final season had the same passion about real-world situations and will sign petitions that improve peoples lives, but let’s not make this political.

Don’t get me wrong here, there were several things I didn’t like and I’ve discussed them with my friends who have similar opinions. I know people who hated the final season and I know a few who loved it. Again, these are all valid reactions. My two biggest disappointments with the final season were: the Night King was killed too quickly and we didn’t get really any information about him, and Jaime Lannister’s regression.

The Night King and the White Walkers were teased as the final boss since episode one. I was really hoping they would be the final fight. The living versus the dead. Once the Night King died in episode three, I lost a lot of interest in the remaining episodes. Why? Because he was the final fight. If he won, that meant everyone lost. No way Cersei defends King’s Landing against his forces. Once he was gone, what remained was just the same old people fighting people for trivial reasons when compared to why they fought against the White Walkers. I also wanted to know so much more about the Night King. He and the White Walkers were such a mystery and I hoped some of that would be revealed before the end, but we were left in the dark. How did his magic work? Why didn’t dragon fire kill him? Perhaps we will get some answers in the books.

Jaime’s regression, or undoing of his entire character arc in my opinion, was another point of contention for me. I think him going back to Cersei to die in her arms canceled out all of his good deeds. He went from a hated character to one we could sympathize with to one we could even like. He was one of the greatest character arcs I’ve experienced. I did think for a while that he was going to end up killing Cersei as I’m sure many others did, but instead we get an ending fit for a Shakespearean tragedy (which was way too good/easy for Cersei, let’s be honest). I did find a lot of season eight echoing season one. Many people thought this meant many of the events of the series were pointless, but I think that just means these people allowed themselves to miss out on the story between episode 1 and episode 73.

Jon Snow remains my favorite character and he got shafted every way he turned for doing the right thing. His story is the most tragic here. He died doing what he knew was right. Then he came back and continued doing what he needed to. Kit Harrington’s reaction to that final episode, as seen in the documentary, was insanely emotional. He waited until the table reading to know what happened. He poured himself into the show and we got a phenomenal character from him.

I also loved Tormund. He is hilarious, but not simply straightforward and abrasive. His unrequited feelings for Brienne showed us that much. I loved the showdown between the Clegane’s. Zombie Mountain versus the Hound. It was awesome. I didn’t like some things and loved others. I could go on and talk about a lot more about the series, but I want to get back to the other point of this post. What it means to be a fan.

The toxic fans. Those who are brave enough behind their screens to scream at the open internet and demand their opinions are the only ones that matter and the world must conform to their views. I’ve seen these types of “fans” in many fandoms. Star Wars has seen a lot of them recently, but that is an almost completely different discussion. I only bring it up because a new petition started earlier this week to prevent D&D from working on a Star Wars title that they were picked to write. To these disgruntled, vocal, so-called fans, I have a few questions. What about the fans who liked the GoT ending? You can’t demand their satisfied ending be taken away because you didn’t get yours. What about the thousands of people who poured their hearts and souls into this project? Many I’m sure have been involved for a long time. And the millions of dollars invested to bring you this great, quality entertainment for nearly a full decade? You expect these things will just be overlooked so you can demand your own satisfaction? No. Yelling at the internet in a tantrum to “fix it” so you will be happy just spits in the face of all those who invested their time, blood, sweat, tears, money, and whatever personal sacrifices they made. We got a lot of great things from this series. Ramin Djawadi gave us some phenomenal music. Many actors have emerged because of the opportunity given to them with this show. Do you think you are owed a redo? Do you think acting like a child refused an extra slice of cake after eating a whole cake already will be even looked at seriously? If this show’s history proved anything, it was that it doesn’t owe you a damn thing. It thrived on breaking hearts and shocking you and we have all enjoyed moments and hated others. Let’s all agree we didn’t like the Red Wedding (at least, you didn’t if you have a heart). I personally liked Joffrey and Ramsey’s deaths because they were terrible characters. Well-acted, yes, but they characters were evil people. They deserved it. If you mourned either one of them, we probably wouldn’t get along. I’d get into the whole “let’s not treat actors like the characters they play” discussion, but I’ll have to save that for another day.

Again, if you hated the ending, I’m not saying your feelings are invalid. I’m saying you don’t need to demand the world change to meet your preference. In fact, I’m suggesting you simply talk about your disappointments with those who agree with you and then move on. Let those who loved the ending talk about what they loved about it with their friends. We don’t have to sit and fight about it and sow dissent and hatred. We can agree to disagree and find our groups who agree with us to seek solace. All things come to an end and endings can be the hardest part. This final season had a lot of hype and we waited an extra year to get it. It was also a short season with six episodes that, I believe, felt a little rushed and they could have added more. Stories end. They do not always end as expected or in a satisfactory way. If you want a different ending to this one, then read the books. I hear G.R.R. Martin already stated that his ending will be different than what we got from D&D. If you don’t like Martin’s ending, then write your own if you care that much. Nothing is stopping you. Go. Be creative. In fact, I encourage you to have fun with it and spread it into the world for others to enjoy. If you get any haters, just ignore them and revel in those who loved your creation as the resolution they also wanted. Just remember that you are now focusing on the good and not giving attention to that hate. It festers and grows with attention. It is parasitic. I am writing this post in hopes it may provide an antibody.

However you feel, just be glad you experienced the story. Focus on your favorite parts if that is what you need to do. This series changed television in a fabulous way. It showed that the world was ready for series of high-quality production. With the changes of how we view things, such as streaming services and on-demand options, it showed us that production companies are willing to invest in turning epics into film. Let me be clear, other shows have greatly encouraged this endeavor, but GoT was the most popular show on the planet for the last eight years. I can’t wait to see which series will take over next. I know Amazon is working on a Lord of the Rings show that will be a prequel to the movies. They are also working on a Wheel of Time show, a book series I am currently reading through, and I am excited about how the show will turn out. I’m sure there will be things I like and don’t like about these series as well, but I’ll discuss them with friends and let them go. HBO is still doing spin-offs of GoT for everyone who still wants more. There is more to come whatever your interests (I just happened to mention the epic fantasies).

Lastly, to really prove my point, I wanted to point out that I have published this post two weeks after the finale. Why? Because I know everyone has probably calmed down and stopped talking about GoT by now (and I don’t have to worry about having spoilers). This proves that even controversial endings are only temporary. Everyone has moved on to other shows. Those 1.5+ million have already given up and will no longer talk about it. Their hatred has been diverted and the scar they made is fading. Granted, there are still many great jokes and memes circulating about this final season, but my point is that the interest has dwindled if not disappeared entirely. We can go back to simply enjoying its memory, and maybe even going through the series again in the future.

If you have read this far, you at least are still interested and like GoT enough to admit it has impacted your life regardless of how you feel about it, and you will remain interested, as a fan, for probably the remainder of your life. Even if GoT gets lost in the sea of other stories. You are a true fan. A good one. One who appreciates all the good and bad and came through cherishing the experience for what it was. A passionate fan who can discuss the lives of fictional characters like they were the most interesting people in the world. A fan who loves the world they have been given a glimpse into. I encourage you to continue being this fan. For whatever stories grip you next.

The Unexpected

Have you ever experienced a story that left you utterly lost? As in, you don’t remember what your perception of life was before experiencing it. Where you can’t stop thinking about the characters and what happened to them. Have you experienced a story that meant more to you than you thought originally possible?

I think some of the stories that hit us the hardest are the ones we never saw coming. By this, I mean the stories we knew little to nothing about but gave it a shot because something drew us to it, and before the end we realize too late that it wove itself through our muscles and bones and became as important to us as the air we breathed. At least, for a little while. The obsession fades usually after a few days but we will always recommend the story to our friends and maybe re-read, re-watch, re-listen to the story so we can experience it all over again. But it won’t be quite the same as that first time. Every re-experience is just a reminder of how it left us both empty yet fulfilled. We are just a story junkie chasing that first high.

Not the best analogy, but I think you get the point, and I hope you know what it is I’m talking about. Stories have power. They can make us question things and help us grow. They can teach us new things or make us question old things. They can do all of this across one page or an entire series, within one episode or even within five minutes of a movie (think of that scene from UP, you know which one I’m talking about). We are drawn to stories because we want to experience something. The type of story I’m focusing on is the one that comes out of left field to completely knock you off your feet. The type of story that is the reason I write. Even if I write 100 books and only 3 pages perform the magic I am talking about, then it will all be worth it.

There are several stories I can think of that left me catatonic. Simply sitting there, somewhat withdrawn into myself, wondering. Just wondering. Sometimes about the characters or what happened to them or sometimes about what my life is and what more I can do with it. I would love to hear what stories have affected you in this way. Please, leave a comment or send it to me from the contact page.

Stories like this don’t come around often enough for my liking. Maybe once or twice a year if I’m lucky, but I recently experienced one that I wanted to talk about before my obsession with it faded. There are many reasons I enjoyed this show (yes, it’s not a book this time). The show is a Netflix original called Violet Evergarden.

One thing I absolutely enjoyed and will enjoy for probably a long time is the soundtrack. I think I first heard of this show because it popped up as a suggested soundtrack to listen to online. I listen to a lot of orchestral soundtracks. I didn’t listen to this one until after I watched the show and now I own the soundtrack and am listening to it right now as I type this post. The second thing I found drawing me in was the character and the world she inhabits. The setting is a post-war era similar to maybe the 1920’s. The show takes place in a fictional world but it has a feeling similar to what I imagine life may have been after World War I. Our main, title character was a war orphan who was trained and treated as a weapon through the end of the war. The story picks up after the war has ended and Violet sets off to learn what happened to her commanding officer and what his last words to her meant. In her journey, she becomes an Auto-memory Doll, which is someone employed to write letters for other people and help them say what they cannot seem to put into words. Many of the people cannot write themselves. All the letters are written on a typewriter (which has me dusting off my old typewriter that was given as a gift many years ago). Her character development is enthralling even though most episodes are independent stories that build her experiences. Again, the soundtrack is amazing and music adds so much to shows and movies. The animation (did I mention it is animated?) is gorgeous. The entire show is well paced and I found myself watching several episodes at time and finishing the short 13 episodes within one week. The show gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Of a time simpler to the world we live in and the busy hustle and bustle of our technological world. That alone was worth the watch for me to be honest.

Nothing is better than finding a story this way. Unexpectedly and leaving you hopeful. Giving you an experience you will never forget. One you cherish and want to shout about so everyone else can feel how you feel. But of course we don’t because that is rude and you know that builds expectations which then hinders the story for others. You have to let others find it on their own. I know I gave away a lot about the show I just wrote about and I’ll apologize to you now if that gave you expectations for it, but I won’t really mean it because you may not watch it regardless or you may watch it now because I wrote about it and it caught your interest and you may not have heard about it otherwise.

The unexpected story is what we hope for when we give a book, show, or movie a chance without knowing anything else about it. I encourage you to go out and find something you have never heard of that sounds interesting and give it this chance. It may become a treasure to you. Yes, there are plenty of other stories your friends are recommending, but go out there and give the unknown a shot. You may find yourself recommending it to your friends, and fervently.

With that, I dedicate this post to the unexpected. May we all find such stories when we need them. To remind us that there is something out there we may have forgotten, or to remind us of what we dream to be.