Game of Thrones and Anthropology

This article by Rex at Savage Minds (easily my favorite anthro blog these days) has once again got me thinking about the ideas of stories as socialization. Namely, he focuses on the story of Game of the Thrones, and the phenomenon that has come along with it. The GoT story is complex and very real: violence, sex, death and more are common aspects of the show, and it's still adored by hundreds of thousands of people each episode. The characters of the show are show to have huge implications on history: the way they change and act affects not just them but lots of other people. The words they use, the stories they share, all have huge implications within the show, and viewers accept this complexity. Not only that, but the show also shows complicated systems of kinship. What can the acceptance of this plot tell us about the American public? First, Rex makes an incredible point: it tells us that they can understand complexity, even in violence. Why is it that the news socializes Americans into thinking about war as a battle between good and evil: there can be no neutral parties when it comes to Iraq or Afghanistan. It's us or them. But GoT shows complexity: there are various groups and difference dynamics affecting the ways in which the violence turns, and viewers accept it. The viewers have been conditioned into understanding its okay, just as Americans have generally been socialized into thinking that every war is a war between good and evil, right and wrong. The stories the news tells us teaches us one why; why not try to teach it a different way? Game of Thrones, surprisingly, has done just that.

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