Since the start of Season 5 of ‘Game of Thrones’ I have been challenged by my friends and co-workers whether or not I should be watching the show. I was recommended to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ early last year and I binged the first 3 seasons in preparation for the 4th and I’m also working my way through the books. It is now one of my favourite fantasy universes alongside ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’.
But what’s wrong with it?
So, as I’ve said, I’ve been challenged about it by my friends and co-workers about watching ‘Game of Thrones’ because of it. My peers and I are all Christians, study at a Christian University and work in churches as Christian Youth Workers. A fair few of them do not feel comfortable or feel that they should watch ‘Game of Thrones’ because of their profession and faith. I, honestly, have no issue with the show, so here I intend to pick away the reasons why many of my friends and others with similar faiths and professions choose not to watch the show.
Of course, the violence is a big issue that’s been a topic for debate for decades. Should we show violence on TV if we know violence is wrong? Does violence in the media influence people in the real world? Anti-violence is not just a Christian view, but a view for most people. You don’t have to be religious to be against violence, but why do we still watch it? Why does violence excite us? A fundamental Christian may argue that our desire for violence is temptation to sin; a scientist may argue that our craving for violence is evolutionarily innate in our DNA, but the latter doesn’t justify violence. But that’s opening up a completely separate can of worms and doesn’t answer whether I should watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or not!
Again, this is a huge issue. ‘Game of Thrones’ is full of naked ladies! It’s ripe with rape, heavy with whores and incredibly incestuous! I think anyone can understand why people wouldn’t be comfortable watching this show considering. I think it’s well known that when it comes to sexual activity, Christianity has a lot to say on the matter, let alone the sensitive and controversial topics ‘Game of Thrones’ is rife with that anyone else would still have a problem with. Even though, as the show has progressed, the nudity has lessened, I completely understand that if someone has, what some may consider, a ‘problem’ with pornography or a sex addiction that they are trying to overcome, that ‘Game of Thrones’ is NOT the show for that person. And, as an extension from that, I can understand that someone, who doesn’t necessarily have any sort of sexual addiction, but wouldn’t like to start one, wouldn’t want to watch the show either.
It has to be said that the 2 issues mentioned above are definitely the main reasons why a lot of my peers chose not to watch ‘Game of Thrones’, I am sure that, somewhere in the world, there are people who refuse to watch it due to its religious references. Many peoples of faith to tend to avoid anything that is associated with a different religion to theirs. ‘Game of Thrones’ has 14 religions in total. Yes, all these religions are fictional, but to someone who has a strong faith, all other religions in the real world or not are fictional. Specifically, the Bible does, on many occasions teach us to avoid other religions, and to be honest, for a person of any faith, it kind of goes without saying. In the show, there has also been many digs about religion, but not as much as the current series; now we have the ‘Faith Militants’ who represent the major religion of Westeros in a very dark light. Many people associate Westeros with England, and of course, the major religion in England, in medieval times anyway, is Christianity. Many people could associate The Faith Militants with the oppressive wrath of Christian Doctorate that was rife in the medieval era. Many Christians who watch or have watched ‘Game of Thrones’ could take offense to this situation currently happening in the show.
Setting an Example.
Now, just to remind you, this article comes off the back of specific conversations I’ve had. The people who have raised the issues with ‘Game of Thrones’ have not only been Christians, but also Youth Workers and the occasional Priest. Both of which have said something along the lines of “How can I be watching this when I wouldn’t want my young people watching it or being influenced by it?” which is a valid point. I don’t want the young people I work with getting involved in violence, prostitution or incest so I don’t want them to watch ‘Game of Thrones’, but how can I say “don’t watch it” when I, myself, am watching it?
So, why do I watch it?
Although I do sympathise with all of the arguments above, I still watch ‘Game of Thrones’. I don’t watch it for the violence; I’m not a violent person and I don’t think the show influences me to be violent. I don’t watch it for the sexual activity; nope, seeing breasts on TV doesn’t tempt me or anything like that. And I’m not offended by the bad light the show sheds on religion either. The reason being that I am aware of the contexts that these things happen; The show is based on the medieval period of real world Europe and the violence, the questionable sexual activity and the organised religion would have actually happened. I would argue that ‘Game of Thrones’ is a more accurate depiction of medieval England than any TV show or movie that is actually set in medieval England! But obviously, I don’t watch the show for the educational values. As mentioned at the beginning and on my MoviePilot profile I love fantasy, I love stories, I love the idea that people have created worlds larger than our own with their own imagination. ‘Game of Thrones’ has a compelling story line and characters that you fall in love with and grow to hate. As for the issue of being an example to young people, to be blunt, ‘Game of Thrones’ is an adult show. I wouldn’t want my young people drinking alcohol because it’s illegal for them, but I still have the right to go for a pint if I choose. I think exposing young people to a show like ‘Game of Thrones’ is wrong, because it’s not made for them, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t watch it.
If people choose not to watch a show because of any or all of the reasons above, I totally understand. After all, it’s just a TV show. People can choose to watch or not to watch what they like for whatever reason. What really grinds my gears is when people judge me for watching because they have made the decision not to. This article may seem like I’m digging at those who choose not to watch it, but the purpose of this article, I hope, is to make people consider both sides. If you’re a Christian or a youth worker or a church worker who struggles with the show because you’ve been told not to watch it or because you watch it but you don’t feel it’s right, then I hope this article has helped you somewhat.
The issue of watching ‘Game of Thrones’ seems to be a frequently discussed topic in my university and my line of work, which is why I wanted to write this article. Just so I can send people the URL whenever the topic is mentioned instead of repeating myself.
Ultimately, the moral is, make your own decisions and choices as long as you can justify yourself and you don’t judge others for not making the same choice.
Thanks for reading!