Game of Thrones is Far More Political Than You Thought It To Be
The wheel of politics is intact and spinning, and as each Stark chooses his or her separate path, the diplomatic games of Westeros will continue, much like the power plays of our real world.
The iron Throne in Game of Thrones.
Democracy may still be a laughable concept for the lords and ladies of Westeros, but if the last and final episode of Game of Thrones is anything to go by, they sure are done with nepotism at King's Landing. The finale of the show ended with an elected monarchy, and Bran Stark as the king of six kingdoms, in keeping with George RR Martin's proclivity to draw inspiration from 'medieval times, and crusade wars' during which, elected monarchies were a popular form of governance.
However, the creators of the television show, D B Weiss and David Benioff, have, throughout the seasons, and especially in the finale episode, used modern-day political occurrences as their points of reference. Game of Thrones has, on many occasions, been said to reflect the current political climate of the United States, and yet, if you follow the show through all its eight seasons, you will find that it serves as a microcosm in which all modern day international political tactics, military agenda, foreign invasion, immigration, religious fanaticism, and movements are deftly represented.
In the finale episode, The Iron Throne, we saw Sansa Stark exit the union of kingdoms that will now be ruled by her brother, Bran, and declaring North as a free province. While we can all say a big hurrah to finally see a female character on a throne (even if it isn't the iron throne), Sansa's reasons for exiting the union of kingdoms seemed as convincing as Britain's reasons for leaving European Union.
Many years ago, Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark struck a deal to keep North in the folds of Westeros, so as to keep the peace between kingdoms, much like the 28 countries of Europe coming together under European Union so as to finally stop squabbling and warring amongst one another, and work together to build trade, and move towards a flourishing Europe. Supporters of Brexit, however, claim that Britain took a considerable hit during the union, with the immigrant influx, and dwindling finances because it rendered support to poorer countries in the union, which finally resulted in the referendum supporting Brexit. In the TV series, North too suffered under the alliance with King's Landing, as Sansa points out that tens and thousands of Northerners lost their lives for great wars of Westeros, which is why she wanted a free and independent kingdom.
While we will never know if her decision to break free from the union will help North prosper in future, or if wars of Westeros will really stop affecting Northerners, we can already see why Brexit may not have been the best plan of action for Britain. What is more, Sansa would have proved to be a valuable asset for Bran (and therefore for the entire realm), now that he will be a ruler. Let's face it, Tyrion's advice doesn't always work, and Bronn, Ser Davos, Ser Brienne, or Samwell Tarly are hardly any good at state diplomacy as compared to Sansa. If she would have stated in the union, she would have perhaps, not only been able to help northerners but also other citizens of the seven kingdoms.
In an earlier episode of season 8, we saw how locals of Winterfell are averse to immigrants coming into their lands. While their fear of the Dragon Queen is understandable, the discriminatory behaviour that someone like Missandei faced when she tried to speak to a local girl isn't. In fact, it is a reflection of how immigrants who move due to wars, climate change, or just job opportunities, in the real world, get treated at the places they migrate to. Remember when the Northern lords were extremely xenophobic and unwelcoming of Wildings, whom Jon Snow had brought South of the wall to fight the dead?
In episode 5 of the latest season, The Bells, the makers show us the horrors of modern-day wars."It's interesting to us that we can take a modern reference and map it onto a pre-modern situation because we have the air firepower with the dragon," said D B Weiss, in HBO's featurette, Game Revealed.
The face of wars has completely changed since the second world war when this Earth witnessed firsthand, what governments armed with atomic powers can do. The makers of GoT, however, have taken their inspiration for recreating the siege of King's Landing not from the bombing of Nagasaki or Hiroshima, but that of Dresden, a German town.
The allied forces (led by Britain and America) bombed the historic city of Dresden in 1945, which not only destroyed more than 75,000 homes, and killed more than 25, 000 people (perhaps more, there are several accounts of casualties, and each differs). Although they claimed they wanted to break networks of communication in Germany with this attack, many propounded that it was to push Nazi-ruled Germany to surrender. Hilter was and still is, one of the most despised rulers in history, and yet, this action of Allied forces, that killed many innocents was heavily criticized.
We saw something very similar happen in Game of Thrones. Daenerys kills thousands, despite Lannister armies surrendering, because she wanted to kill anyone who supported Cersei, who was indeed a tyrannical ruler. But, the same moral question arose here too: Does her end justify her means?
The rise of faith militants in season 5 was yet another time Game of Thrones was on point--in depicting how easy it is to use religion to garner political gains, and when that happens, how the worst affected are mostly women. While it may be hard to believe but there was once a time when a country like Afghanistan, for example, was a progressive nation. In the '50s and '60s, the strides that Afghanistan took towards modernization were exemplary. Afghan women were very much part of public lives. Wearing a burqa was optional, and many of them were job holders.
However, things changed in the mid-70s when extremist Islamic political regimes overtook and confined women to house arrests. Most women in power were thrown on the streets, while several were arrested for minor offences much like Margaery Tyrell is arrested by the High Sparrows, in GoT, for lying. The most painful and grotesque injustice against Afghan women were done publicly, in front of mobs, much like Cersei's walk of atonement in Mother's Mercy for her incestual relationship with Jaime Lannister. Game of Thrones aptly depicted the transition of King's Landing from a liberal city to a place under an extremist religious regime like the High Sparrow. Tommen only sat as the king as a figurative head, while it was the religious extremist regime which ruled King's Landing.
Game of Thrones depicts several social evils like racial, and class discrimination, marital rape and abuse, as well as homophobia. However, the most interesting analogy that can be drawn between Game of Thrones and present-day politics is the economics behind political rivalries and wars.
Much like the monarchs, who at various stages of the show have taken debts from Iron Bank to finance wars or further their own agendas, there are countries too, in the real world, who are said to receive funding from richer nations to finance their own wars -- civil or otherwise. Robert Baratheon's entire political standing was supported by Lannister money, and therefore, they had more say in how he governed than he himself did. Haven't we seen this happen to many political candidates, who become puppets of their financier, and investors?
While there is far more equality in the Bran's new, half-formed king's counsel with the addition of people who come from less elitist backgrounds like Ser Davos, and Bronn, and at least a female representation (knowing Ser Brienne it will definitely not be tokenism), the economic factors are still equally messed up, especially with Bronn being the master of coins, and his willingness to invest in brothels than ships being apparent. The wheel of politics is intact and spinning, and as each Stark chooses his or her separate path, the diplomatic games of Westeros will continue, much like the power plays of our real world.
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