Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm Back! What's with all the death?

July is over.

I decided unconsciously to take July off. Rejoice both of you who read this blog!

Well, what really happened is that I busted my buns at the end of June to make a couple deadlines, and found myself creatively dried up. I started reading again, which I haven't done in some time, and watching shows on Netflix. God bless Netflix.

Anyway, I finally got back into my Game of Thrones reading. I am halfway through book four, Feast for Crows, and I had a thought. (no spoilers, I promise.) What is with all the grimdark?

I finished the Anime series Attack on Titan, and began a new one, the Netflix distributed Knights of Sidonia. One thing that all three of these stories share, is a seeming delight in letting us get to know and like a character and then killing that character, often in a brutal way. Where did this come from? I blame Sean Bean.
The man is a walking spoiler.

Now, Martin's Game of Thrones novel is old enough to vote, so I have to imagine that he was in uncharted territory in the world of genre fiction especially back then, but this was totally unthinkable in television as far as I'm aware. Aside from horror, where death and dismemberment are the name of the game, where does this happen? I mean, up until Game of Thrones, the worst I'd heard of was people being shot. Who shot JR? (and much later, who shot Mr. Burns). In either case the character lived. Characters are killed off in daytime soaps, but they often come back. If there's no body, there's no death, and even then sometimes not.

Attack on Titan is about as bad as Game of Thrones. The body count is high, and it's not just unnamed grunts or guys who are just about to retire. That show introduces whole groups of characters that we are taught to love and identify with, and then proceeds to smoosh them like so much raspberry jam. That is almost not a metaphor. Those of you who have seen the show know what I'm talking about.

Be careful who you get attached to.

At times it's like these shows are trolling us.

"Hey, you know that one character you love, and is your favorite character? Nothing, nevermind... muhahahahaaa..." -Scumbag Show

Now, with Game of Thrones, having read well into book four I almost feel like Martin knew he was going to introduce whole countries worth of new characters, and had to kill off a bunch of them just so we had enough space in our cerebral cortexes (corticii?) to remember all the names. But I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. He might just be fucking with us all, laughing behind his monochrome DOS monitor as he plots another mass murder.

The face of evil incarnate.

All this makes me fear for the future of storytelling. Are we as a people going to tolerate our main characters surviving our stories anymore? I am on the cusp of beginning a new fantasy novel, and I don't want to be expected to kill off my main characters. I mean, unless it makes sense. Sometimes a character was born to die. Especially if he's played by Sean Bean. (spoiler alert).

1 comment:

  1. Grimdark. And yes, Sean Bean is a walking spoiler, for sure.

    With the deathydeath and trolling, I sometimes wonder when it stops being cathartic in that Greek tragedy way, and just starts being needless pain. Heh. Character arc, journeys fraught with painful lessons, and the occasional Joss Whedon moment--I get those. They give stuff gravitas and all that. But there's a point when I'm tired from everyday life, and want something to work out well for a character I'm watching/reading about. I'm also a wimp, though...I do hope, though, that we writers are allowed to keep at least some of our folk alive. -.-