I’ve recently just finished the renowned HBO series, Game of Thrones. I know, I’m a bit late in the game.
To be fair, I was interested in this series many years ago, but I never had access to HBO until this year. I would just scavenge short clips on Youtube and even tried to read the first book, but I ended up just skimming parts of it, the parts I was interested in–Daenerys Targaryen’s story.
Outside of Daenerys, I had no interest in the violence, war, and political scheming. Nevertheless, I gave the whole show a chance, since my husband subscribed to HBO and was very interested in the show. In fact, he already watched the whole series before proposing to re-watch it with me. He was very in all the things I was not very interested in. When I brought up watching this show to a friend, she told me she was not interested in the show, and would never be, namely because of the show’s treatment of its women. And I understood where she came from, as I watched the show myself. There were many scenes that were extremely hard to watch, where women were subjected to harsh brutalities.
However, I found myself drawn to all the characters. They were all so complex and human. (Of course, some characters–cough, Joffrey– were written to be hated every second they were on screen.) Each episode revealed more about all the characters–I was so hooked and impressed with the story, while closing my eyes to all the bloody violence and horrific scenes.
Now, this is what I want to focus on–the impact and implications of the violence and horror depicted in this show. First
Today, I across this bible verse in the book of Revelation 19:17-21:
“17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
When I read this passage, I couldn’t help but reflect on the themes of violence and gore in Game of Thrones. In the show, Daenerys wanted to break “the wheel”–the endless cycle of warring and hunger for absolute power, to end to all “evil,” but still ended up contributing to more evil and bloodshed in this fictional world.
The book of Revelation describes a bleak future of trials and tribulations, with violence on both sides of good and evil–God and the devil. However, it does end with a promise of a glorious future of the perfect heaven. When I think of Game of Thrones and the book of Revelation together, I want to question, what is the role of violence?
I personally detest watching any sort of violence on screen (but reading about violence in stories is different), but there are people, like my husband (who is not a violent person at all), who finds such thrill watching it. Perhaps it is an outlet to an unreachable world.
In the passage I just referenced, it seems like the violence described as God’s punishment is a sort of release, a catharsis of sorts to rid the world of all evil, to wipe all evil away by burning them in hell.
It is a strange parallel to Daenerys’ final act, bringing hell down to King’s Landing, to create a new, better world.