Season 8 episode 6 of “Game of Thrones” has arrived — the final installment in the HBO series, answering the longtime question of who will rule over the Seve…
Book or show, which will be the “real” ending? It’s a silly question. How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?
How about this? I’ll write it. You read it. Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.
The show did indeed take a turn for the worse, but the reasons for that downturn goes way deeper than the usual suspects that have been identified (new and inferior writers, shortened season, too many plot holes). It’s not that these are incorrect, but they’re just superficial shifts. In fact, the souring of Game of Thrones exposes a fundamental shortcoming of our storytelling culture in general: we don’t really know how to tell sociological stories.
The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history. Understanding Hitler’s personality alone will not tell us much about rise of fascism, for example. Not that it didn’t matter, but a different demagogue would probably have appeared to take his place in Germany in between the two bloody world wars in the 20th century. Hence, the answer to “would you kill baby Hitler?,” sometimes presented as an ethical time-travel challenge, should be “no,” because it would very likely not matter much. It is not a true dilemma.
Tufekci explains that this is the same reason we have problems talking about historic technological transition.
In my own area of research and writing, the impact of digital technology and machine intelligence on society, I encounter this obstacle all the time. There are a significant number of stories, books, narratives and journalistic accounts that focus on the personalities of key players such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey and Jeff Bezos. Of course, their personalities matter, but only in the context of business models, technological advances, the political environment, (lack of) meaningful regulation, the existing economic and political forces that fuel wealth inequality and lack of accountability for powerful actors, geopolitical dynamics, societal characteristics and more.
Maybe this is a part of what Douglas Rushkoff touches on in his criticism of storytelling.
Had the coalition of the living actually followed the fundamentals of engagement area development, they might have had a fighting chance. However, since their opponent could literally raise the dead, they had to rely instead on a dragon wing and a prayer of “not today.”
Once you’ve dried your eyes, come catch up with your Westerosi correspondents.