I became addicted to binge-watching “Game of Thrones” about two years ago. I consumed it at a narcotic pace, two or three episodes a day. That happened after several years of deliberately ignoring the whole thing. I was trying to avoid becoming a member of the herd. But the combined forces of the binge-watching mechanism and the conversation on social media created pressure of a very imperialist stripe.
“Game of Thrones” doesn’t settle for just being a work of art. It aspires to global hegemony. Its urge to spread knows no bounds. It is merchandise, just like cocoa or coffee beans. Its stated goal is to occupy every last corner of the world, refusing to be shut out of any market. It finally infiltrated my brain too. Another colony.
I discovered that it’s a whole world in which the episodes are just a component, and not necessarily the most significant one. The universe of commentary that has sprung up around it is vast. I’ve turned into a consumer of “Game of Thrones” blogs, forums, intellectual articles, gossip, leaks about upcoming episodes, paparazzi photos of the next season’s sites, and random online streams of consciousness by fans.
In the era of binge-watching and feeds, the interest surrounding “Game of Thrones” has reached unimaginable proportions. It’s completely absurd. It’s filling people’s lives. The show comes off as the most important thing in the world. No question about it, for a few weeks it was for me too. I thought it was one of the 10 greatest shows in television history.
Now I know that it’s not. I also know it isn’t worth this captivity.
“Game of Thrones” is a drug. Like any drug, it winds up controlling the addict. I was cured of the addiction as with cigarettes: One day I just stopped watching. And as with cigarettes, 72 hours later, I was cleansed. It was out of my system. A few days’ distance and suddenly I realized that I couldn’t care less, that I had been possessed, but no more.
Now I view all those “Game of Thrones” addicts with pity. They’ve lost their free will, their individuality. In fact, the whole business of chatter about TV programs has become sick. The message is “you mustn’t miss this,” a statement designed to imbue people with the threat that if they don’t watch a given series, they’ll be isolated and rejected by their peers.
The sentiment surrounding these shows is very teenage. If you don’t see them, you don’t exist.
The steamroller of the binge-watching combined with the feed creates a misimpression. “Game of Thrones” is like “Harry Potter”: an opiate of the masses with nothing truly great about it. It’s refined entertainment of high quality, to be sure, but when it’s taken with total seriousness and assumed to have depths that it doesn’t have, the moment arrives when we feel foolish.
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