Why are good people hooked on Game of Thrones?

Father Brendan Lee is a a priest for the Lavington parish in the Catholic Diocese of Wagga. His Mid-Week Musings are published in the Daily Advertiser weekly.

… perhaps the worst of GoT’s future legacy lies in its very title

It was the once notorious conman PT Barnum who said “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.” As the Foxtel Now streaming service crashed last week when Game of Thrones made Australian streaming history with an over 800,000 audience, I’m musing Barnum’s words are sadly the truth in our country today.

Before GoT fans claim “You know nothing Fr Brendan!” I actually started watching GoT episodes: a disturbing gorge of full frontal nudity, both male and female, convenience murders, rape, celebration of the local brothel, incest, and even the attempted murder of children; and here’s the worst of twists - future episodes present these characters as the “good guys”. 

As I began to be shocked, yet intrigued by the moral principles GoT was teaching young minds, I became confused that so many good people got hooked on GoT. 

I realised after several conversations good people watching GoT believe they’re only  watching the drama and are extracting the nudity, violence and lessons in intimidation and betrayal as an irrelevant ignored aside. In spite of their best intentions, the tragedy is that their minds will do the complete opposite.

Nudity, violence, intimidation and betrayal are truths and therefore believed and stored in the mind. The glut of pornography in GoT is particularly symbolic to good people “just watching”. In the Bible, although she was escaping evil, Lot’s wife is punished for looking back and Jesus said “"Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

Many moral issues considered taboo for centuries in the Western World became widely accepted only years after fictional TV presented them as normal. With this in mind, there are at least three serious future problems I see with the young and massive audience watching Game of Thrones:

GoT is sympathetic to incest. The viewer is shown the incestuous relationship between Jaime Lannister and twin sister Cersei from their point of view, challenging the audience’s natural disgust of incest by creating sympathy for their love and loss of their children and presenting their forced separation from each other as a romantic tragedy. The evil to youth in this plotline should be obvious.   

GoT slowly desensitises audiences to paedophilia. Although a prosthetic breast was used, GoT showed 11-year-old actor Lino Facioli as breastfeeding from his onscreen mother, 40-year-old actress Kate Dickie.

Although a prosthetic was used, given Facioli was 11 at the time of filming he was clearly asked in his mind to simulate a sexual act on a 40-year-old woman. Consider also the episode where Dean-Charles Chapman aged 16 was sensually caressed in bed by the more than double his age and mostly naked 33-year-old actress Natalie Dormer.

In our days of supposed gender indifference, how indifferent would we be if these actors’ genders were reversed? 

But perhaps the worst of GoT’s future legacy lies in its very title. Sinners will always have a place at my table, but I won’t even look in the eyes of an authority-abuser as they are history’s worst people. The GoT producers aren’t stumbling sinners but talented, premeditated, scripted and rehearsed authority-abusers teaching there are no covenants as nobody has any rights therefore authority is taken by stealth or force because truth isn’t real and so it’s all just a game. That so few in authority have condemned GoT I believe only strengthens my arguments. Perhaps GoT’s warning “winter is coming” is a prophecy after all.