When I saw these memes trolling Game of Thrones TV show fans, I laughed at first.
One version simply says, “Sorry your dragon show ended stupidly.”
Another one says, “sorry your kinky dragon show sucked.”
Ouch! Hotter dragon-show burn! It references the fact that Game of Thrones really does/did have porn in it, and enhances the diss with gratuitous lowercase.
Again, I laughed at first. In fact, I’ve shared a few similar memes, such as this one:
But then I kept seeing the mockery. And I realized something.
If we share the “sorry your dragon show . . .” meme, with that phrase, fantasy fans might actually hear an echo like this:
- I don’t care about the stories you’re interested in.
- Fantasy is intrinsically shallow, absurd, and stupid.
- By not caring about the stories you like, I care little about you.
- Hey, nerd! Put down your dopey comics and pay up yer lunch money. Haw, haw!
I kid with that last bit. But honestly, the “dragon show” part could sound like plain bullying. I see those non-fantasy “jocks”—possibly wearing ’90s faded-denim cutoff shorts and backward-turned baseball caps—harassing the “nerd” with thick glasses and knee-high socks.
Disclaimer: Yes, we know about the porn parts
Yes, Game of Thrones has actual porn in it. Here on Speculative Faith, we’ve condemned this porn and think you should too. We’ve quit watching Game of Thrones (and The Walking Dead). And we’ve explored how sex scenes aren’t just “awkward,” but actually violate these actors who are created in God’s image, and the fact that high fantasy can too easily become porn fantasy.1
I know plenty of Christian fans who enjoyed Game of Thrones. In their view, the gratuitous nudity isn’t a feature; it’s a bug.2 These fans say they have grown attached to characters, plot twists, and what’s-gonna-happen-next. Some fans likely resonated, at least for a time, with the series’ commitment to high fantasy.
In other words—all controversy about the porn (sigh) aside—they’re behaving just like fans of any other series.
And if we dismiss their interest as mere enjoyment of a “dragon show,” we may end up saying, “I don’t care about what you like.”
Do we really want our neighbors to hear, ‘What you like is stupid’?
In principle, real Christians shouldn’t behave this way toward people created in God’s image.
Here’s why I say this. As I’ve announced, two coauthors and I—Ted Turnau and Jared Moore—have signed to release a new book next year from New Growth Press. It’s about how Christian parents can engage popular culture with their kids.3
In the book, we frequently recommend that parents show natural interest in the stories and songs their children enjoy. We’re not talking mainly about bad shows or straight-up evil content (such as pornography). Instead, we’re talking about the shows that people might call “useless.” Like a Disney channel sitcom. Or a weird-looking anime series about a boy who wants to be King of the Pirates.
Sure, we don’t always have time to watch or engage with every story in the world. But for parents who want to connect with their children, and explore their children’s hearts as revealed by the stories that capture their hearts? Well, you don’t have time not to engage this way.
At the very least, parents ought not erect walls between themselves and their children by saying, “Your show …” is stupid.
But this is exactly what grown-ups do, to other grown-ups, when they say, “Your show …” is stupid.
This makes even less sense about Game of Thrones. We’re talking about a very controversial show. It has proven to have culture-making power. It’s gained millions of fans. And these fans’ heart-level desires—both good and idolatrous—can be revealed by this story’s commitment to epic fantasy mixed with political intrigue, moral “gray areas,” and lotsa lotsa porn.
Fantasy isn’t stupid, but idols are
As a Christian, your mission is to engage with fans you know as their neighbor. That means we don’t minimize their favorite story as a “dragon show,” as if fantasy is always that silly. We also don’t sneer out fake apologies. And we don’t call our neighbor’s favorite story “stupid.”
Self-defeating, like all idols are? Likely.
Something I wouldn’t myself watch? Definitely.
But not “stupid.” Please don’t put up that wall. Please don’t risk mocking fantasy fans just for being fantasy fans. Such mockery is not only absurd, because fantasy is the genre-of-genres in the real world. It’s also beyond foolish, because we risk getting distracted by our own human preferences rather than focusing on biblical rationale. As Scripture warns us, the worst challenge in popular cultural works is not particular genres of stories. It’s the evils of idolatry in stories, and in the hearts and actions of people who make them.
- At this point some wag cleverly observes that I’m focused on the nudity/sex instead of the violence. This is an almost annoyingly easy “point” to rebut: Actors aren’t actually beheading and stabbing one another. But actors are actually getting naked, often under bounded reasons, like, “I represent the pervert side of the audience, okay?” (actual quote) or, “You need to show how much you are willing to do anything to Commit to the Character” (paraphrased quote). This short-daggered criticism has worn dull. Next. ↩
- Again, I disagree with them, but this article isn’t about that. Suffice it to say, my opposition to Game of Thrones and other porn-prone series is not based on “it will make you sin” arguments. It’s based more on, “People have to sin, or be demeaned and exploited, to make these shows” arguments. ↩
- Our themes in the book also translate well to any Christian who wants to engage popular culture while building relationships with their neighbors. Yes, people often abuse this theme (e.g., to self-justify bad or immoral media content). But it’s still a biblical theme. It has plenty of precedent set by the apostles, by Christians of the past, and by Jesus Christ himself who spoke the language of his first-century culture. ↩