It’s time that life imitated art and we learned the lesson of the storytellers.
I’ve been managing my Game of Thrones addiction, saving up the final series until I had finished writing my latest book. So, when Wanderful went off to the publishers last weekend (hooray) I took my spoiler-protecting fingers out of my ears and binged.
I loved it, albeit with mixed emotions knowing that I’d soon need to find a new story fix. It was particularly gratifying that my favourite character (Tyrion Lannister) mentioned my favourite topic (story) at the climax of the plot.
”What unites people?” he asks “Armies…gold…flags? No.Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can destroy it”.
One thing that can make a story unstoppable is a dramatic challenge. Just look at the tales that politicians are using to galvanise popular fervour around the world currently. These are all crafted around a threat that they – a group, party, nation, religion – pose to us. And we find this irresistible. Narrative candy.
The entire Game of Thrones saga is animated by one threat – Winter Is Coming. It’s triply chilling, combing the menace of a zombie army, a murderous undead ruler and endless night. And it works – uniting a warring cast against a common enemy.
GoT is a fantastical romp, but it has obvious parallels in the non-fiction world where, today the threat of nightmarish regimes and existential climactic disruption are all too real. The difference is we are not surging into action like a John Snow or the dragon-riding Denaerys. The real menace isn’t gripping us as the fictional one does. The forces of darkness are winning while we sit on the sofa immersed in Netflix and HBO. And there’s every sign our nations, our planet and our species are not heading for a satisfying series finale.
I’m not an alarmist by nature but the scriptwriter in me suggest it’s time to become one. Instead of managing the threats, I am going to start dramatising them.
Climate Catastrophe IS on the way. Let’s see if that galvanises us better than moderate talk of ‘mitigating the deleterious effects of global warming’.
Our values ARE under attack. Racism IS on the March. Dead-eyed despots DO have evil designs on the way we are governed and live.
Winter actually IS Coming. And no CGI dragon is going to save us.