Is it ‘just’ a series? A guide to explaining the ASOIAF and Game of Thrones fandom to Muggles

Lyanna

So, I spent the last 5 months on remote organic farms with little to no WiFi. While going nearly cold turkey on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, E-mail and, of course, Watchers on the Wall was certainly interesting, what I found more noteworthy was living with people accustomed to life with limited WiFi … because they were completely unfamiliar with (and uninterested in) fandom.

Now, a wiser woman might have tried to downplay the extremity of her fangirl enthusiasm for A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) and Game of Thrones (GoT), but …

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… subtlety’s never been my strength.

While explaining that I chose Rathlin Island as my first stopping point because of its proximity to Ballintoy Harbour or that the crab on my necklace pendant is actually a Greyjoy sigil, I realized that the people I was speaking with were looking at me like I was a character from The Big Bang Theory come to life. Their reactions ranged from politely perplexed to disdainful but their comments were all variations of the same question: “You’re a [seemingly] functioning grown woman who’s obsessed with a made up universe … why …?”

These conversations challenged me to articulate why I care so deeply about ASOIAF and GoT and got me thinking critically about the nature of fandom. Though I realize I’m preaching to the high Valyrian choir here on Watchers on the Wall, with the holidays and family reunions impending, I still think it’s worthwhile to work through some responses to Muggles’ most common comments about the ASOIAF/GoT fandom.

“It’s weird”

I mean … okay. Weirdness is a subjective term but I’ll concede that there is something counterintuitive about investing emotionally in a world that doesn’t exist that’s populated by people who aren’t real.

But here’s the thing: most events that people get excited about are counterintuitive – dare I even say weird – when you strip them of their cultural significance and look at them directly. The Super Bowl is just a football game, Thanksgiving is just a dinner and a wedding is just a ceremony built around two people entering into a legal/religious agreement. Yet, it’s not considered weird to invest time, money and effort into these things because it’s understood that they are more than the sum of their parts. People place importance on them and so they become important. The same is true of fandom. The distinction between what is socially acceptable and what is weird is really quite arbitrary.

“It’s just a TV show/book series”

Again, yes, it is … in the same way the Super Bowl is just a football game and Thanksgiving is just a dinner. Much of what I wrote in response to “It’s weird” is applicable here as well but I also feel it’s important to point out that fiction can have a very real impact on someone’s life.

I’ve written a fair amount about Theon Greyjoy’s personal significance to me and I know two domestic abuse survivors who find catharsis in writing Thramsay (Theon + Ramsay) fan fiction. The Reddit post, “A Dwarf’s Perspective on Tyrion Lannister” offers insight into the importance of Tyrion’s portrayal and I’ve met countless fans online who draw strength from Daenerys’ rise from human chattel to Khaleesi, Brienne’s rejection of traditional gender roles and Sansa’s resilience.

Of course, not every fan is drawn to ASOIAF/GoT for such intimate or serious reasons but in order to understand fandom it’s important to realize that, while ASOIAF and GoT are “just” works of fiction, they offer a lot of people much more than mere entertainment.

“Imagine the good you could do if you funneled that energy you spend on ASOIAF/GoT into actual real world problems?”

Ah, yes. The ever-popular false ultimatum to guilt fans for loving what they love. Let me scream this from the rafters: people are capable of juggling multiple interests at once. You can be an ASOIAF/GoT fan and an engaged citizen of the world. You can go to comic con and attend political rallies. You can be well versed in all the latest fan theories and read up on current affairs. Consternation for the fate or your favorite character does not cancel out concern for international conflicts.

These things are not mutually exclusive. It is known.

“Have you considered getting a life” (or some polite variation)?

Now, this one genuinely baffles me. If having a life entails venturing outside, having a social circle of peers with whom you share common interests and enjoying a hobby that utilize your talents and skills, well … that’s exactly what fandom offers. ASOIAF/GoT provides the framework for a community of podcasters, book club members, artists, fan fiction writers, cosplayers and *ahem* fan site contributors. It fosters discussions ranging from small talk to heated debates with friends, family and co-workers and facilitates conversations with new acquaintances.

It’s an excuse for friends and strangers alike to congregate and have a shared experience on Sunday night.

I almost don’t know how to respond to this comment when I get it because the answer is already in the question. The notion that having an emotional investment in the goings-on of Westeros and Essos entails sitting alone in a dark room in one’s underwear betrays a superficial understanding of the fandom.

“Okay, but why are so many people obsessed with ASOIAF/GoT specifically?”

That’s a fair question and one that I imagine everyone could answer differently. We all have our own origin stories as ASOIAF/GoT fans. Personally, I didn’t become one of the die-hards until I read the Reek chapters in A Dance With Dragons partly for the reasons hyperlinked above but also because I had never read anything written from the perspective of a brainwashed lackey before.

On one level, explaining the popularity of ASOIAF and GoT is simple: ASOIAF is a very well-written book series, GoT is a very well executed TV show and the masses have responded accordingly. However, on a more analytical level, I think ASOIAF/GoT owes its emergence, not merely as a success, but as a cultural phenomenon to the sheer scale of its story. The diversity of landscapes and its cast of thousands maximize readers’ and viewers’ chances of connecting to some aspect of this fantasy saga.

You’ve got blistering desert landscapes with dragons and snowy wastelands with ice zombies, complex political machinations and bare-boned struggles for survival. You have men and women clawing their way to the top and men and women falling from grace. There is something here for everyone.

Additionally, the social structure of Westeros lends itself to the creation of a tightly knit fandom. The fact that most of the characters belong to Houses facilitates the formation of sub-fandoms – communities within communities – with distinguishing iconography, colors, phrases and musical motifs that offer fans an intimacy born of specificity and distinctive tools with which to express their enthusiasm.

I don’t mean any of this cynically, by the way. I find such unmitigated joy in meeting other Greyjoy fans and waxing poetic about Theon and Yara/Asha with them. Relating to others within the context of a shared House aids that sense of community. ASOIAF/GoT means something to a lot of people and it can be incredibly gratifying to find others with whom you share opinions or experiences. If capitalizing on sigils and House words strengthens that sense of connection, then that’s something to embrace.

“I still don’t quite get it but you know what? You do you. Whatever floats your boat.”

Thank you. Cheers!

Littlefinger

Is there some aspect of the ASOIAF or GoT fandom that I didn’t bring up or something you disagree with? Tell us below.

54 responses

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    1. The books and TV series are the greatest game of all.

      They are a maze.

      And within that maze is the quest for knowledge and meaning.

      At the center of the maze is the Prize.

      If you learn everything about a thing you master that thing.

      In the end there will be only one.

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    2. This was excellent, Petra. As a guy who’s had a thing for stuff like Star Trek all his childhood and adolescence, hopping into an emerging phenomenon fandom like ASOIAF/GoT was relatively easy — but we as GoT fans still bump into this discourse all the time. You’ve absolutely nailed how to respond.

      (I’m not sure we can call them Muggles, though. I… I feel like that one’s taken.) 😛

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    3. This fandom is the only fandom, I can think of, where so many people prefer an adaptation as a whole, or some characters or events, over source material. Including me.

      That never happened with Harry Potter, LoTR, Hunger Games,…

      Maybe there are people who prefer adaptations in these instances, but not that much. I never heard that someone likes movie version of any character from Harry Potter more, for example.

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    4. mau,

      I’ve met a fair few who dig Peter Jackson’s LOTR films over the books, but I agree it’s comparably rarer than the GoT/ASOIAF gig.

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    5. Impressive writing, Petra! I was also moved by your article on Theon and by the Dwarf’s confession. Fiction is truly a means to fight reality.
      For me Brienne is a source of strength when it comes to face narrow-mindedness and a model of devotion.

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    6. mau,

      I think the second Hunger Games movie is better than the book. I’d rate the first book and movie about the same (liked both).

      I also prefer the Harry Potter movies to the books, but I realize I’m probably an anomaly lol.

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    7. Flayed Potatoes:
      mau,

      I think the second Hunger Games movie is better than the book. I’d rate the first book and movie about the same (liked both).

      I also prefer the Harry Potter movies to the books, but I realize I’m probably an anomaly lol.

      Agree with your first point but wow… your second is cray beyond cray. None of the Potter movies are as good as any of the books.

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    8. I just dipped my toe back into the dating world, and the first guy I picked not only refuses (REFUSES) to even try to watch GoT, he thinks all fantasy and science fiction (INCLUDING STAR WARS) is “dumb”.

      There will not be a second date. He must have the imagination of a wet shit.

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    9. A very good article Petra and well written. I seldom read fiction and until GoT first appeared on TV, I had never heard of GRRM let only his ASOIAF novels. Was simply a trailer I saw for this new series in 2011 which roused my attention.

      As I watched through S1, it was nothing like I’ve seen before. Where bad things happen to decent people. Like Bran getting pushed from a window or Ned being executed. That trend also being the norm in the later series along with the protagonist’s story arcs getting more inter-weaved as the series progressed.

      I find it is just compulsive viewing as one never knows what will happen next. Even with the spoilers that get posted to WotW during filming. Until the next season airs, us fans can only speculate. I for one will certainly miss it when it concludes.

      Its not surprising why GoT (or the novels) have such a huge fan following? Its unique in many respects. I guess also its a form of ‘Escapism’ from real world problems for many of us? The news is always full of doom and gloom! Nothing gets better and to engross oneself in a world of fantasy (with magic and dragons thrown into the mix), reading a book or watching a TV show is about as good as it gets 😉

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    10. Well put Petra!! I’m part of a few very different fandoms and I love them all. It’s a hobby, a passion, an interest and it hurts no one. It’s something people enjoy and those who don’t share don’t get. Well that’s no different from a non football fan not understanding a football fan or any other interest.

      The internet opens up fandoms. People who may be confined to their homes for any number of reasons can become involved, participate and enjoy. What’s not to like?

      It’s harmless…..unlike so much that goes on in the world today! Most of those who query me are those who have no leisure based interests and probably wish they did.

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    11. Lyanna_Targaryen,

      Lol! He’s probably like many people, a creature of habit and doesn’t appreciate that until you try something you can’t honestly say it’s not for you. Closed minded….yeah forget the second date 😘

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    12. I tell my parents I follow Game of Thrones and read ASOIAF to learn English. My mum used to teach English at school and my father German. They are very happy that I’m reading books in a language other than my own language. But they don’t have a feeling with fantasy literature, they only read classical literature and magazines like Times and National geographic. They don’t really like stories about dragons and other fictional creatures.

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    13. “Imagine the good you could do if you funneled that energy you spend on ASOIAF/GoT into actual real world problems?”

      People who say this usually spend their weekends lying on the couch in their underwear. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but a lot of the fandom are enthusiastic people in general, no matter where their energy is directed. Others are baffled by this, but I can guarantee that the majority of them aren’t out there marching for good causes or helping the poor.

      I knew nothing about the books and watched the first episode because my pay TV network was hyping it up, and if I’m paying for it I’ll check it out. I was blown away from the first frame. It was beautiful and brutal, but the thing that got me was how real they made every scene. I was there, in the snow, when they found those pups. I’d never seen anything like it.

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    14. I really really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for writing this.

      I frequently get people expressing confusion that I’m so into this stuff. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for me, I’m in a respected position as an entrepreneur and businessman. What I find is that people seem almost angry that someone who is geeky or seemingly inadequate in their view is more successful than them, or that they couldn’t tell I was into this stuff just by looking at me. This and video games.

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    15. Thank you SO much for this. I loved “Star Trek” as a child, and started reading fantasy and SF as a teenager. To this day, both my parents chide me for “wasting [my] time on worlds that don’t exist.” My father is a history Ph.D., and my mother has a master’s in English literature; ironically, even though I have only a B.A. (geography and GIS), I’m now far better-read than either of them. I don’t write this specifically to knock on my parents, but rather, to commiserate in how common such attitudes are, even from people who theoretically know us best.

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    16. For non-religious people like me, I think fandom takes the place that religion held for me (without believing it’s real). People coming together once a week to partake in a story telling tradition. Our TV’s are our alters/ camp fire (for good or ill) and these stories, our scripture. Human beings need to belong to some sort of community and being a fan of ASOIAF/GOT and other franchises does it for me. People need stories to inspire them. The people I meet through a shared love of stories like this are more chill and accepting of differences than those of my former faith. (that’s not a rag on people of faith, just my observation).

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    17. Halfman:
      Lyanna_Targaryen,

      Good for you for being so brave and getting back out there! But…dump the chump! 😉

      Wolfish,

      Like you, I started reading this stuff in my early teen years. Thankfully, my father was a big sci-fi and spy thriller reader. I started on Tolkien and Andre Norton and never looked back. I find (and this is of course a generalization and just my own anecdotal observation) that sci-fi/fantasy readers have much better imaginations and greater creative reserves than folks who never venture into the genre. We tend to have an appreciation for even the smallest of joys. We have a novel way of looking at and approaching all things. We are far more tolerant of differences. Just look at the participants on this site!

      Thanks for this, Petra. I’m always at a loss to explain why I love this, other than to say, “Why DON’T you?”

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    18. Ashara D,

      I completely agree! It vexes me that I’ve never been able to explain to my parents (and a few other people) how the consumption of SF and fantasy have enriched and expanded both my worldview and my academic pursuits. Apropos of that, in my Advanced Cartography class last semester everyone’s favorite assignment was the fantasy map. A couple of my classmates did Westeros, and it turned out that the entire class of 20 people were GoT and/or ASoIaF fans. This, among a very diverse group of students in terms of race, socioeconomic background, major area of study, and other hobbies and interests.

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    19. Very nice Petra! Thanks for articulating something most of us are also dealing with. I really liked your emphasis on fandom not as isolating but as something social and something that you can connect with other people with! It’s just a nice way to connect with someone you know in a more casual way, like a coworker, if they are into GoT/ASOIAF too then you just have one more thing to talk about with them! People seem to think this is very normal for say, music, why not our fandom? 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I totally related to your un-subtle excitement at visiting a filming site! I have felt the same way each time I’ve gone to one, it’s just SO COOL to see the same space where they filmed a scene you remember so well!! Happy travels! 🙂

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    20. Anyone recall the scene from the film, City Slickers, where one character explains how he and his father could never relate to or talk to one another except when swapping baseball stats? He explains how, using a neutral subject such as baseball, he and his father could interact closely.
      I think this is another aspect of fandom with which many people can identify.
      Kudos to you, Petra. You’ve done a fine job explaining things with enthusiasm!

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    21. I have no idea why people think participating in fandom, writing fanfiction, producing fanart is any different than collecting stamps or restoring old cars. It just doesn’t compute.

      And I suppose I’m very lucky, or perhaps it’s because I’m a bit older, but I’ve never had anyone of my friends or family tell me to get a life (mostly because they know me and know my life) or tell me that I should channel my energy elsewhere (again, because they know me.) Those statements seem to be ones found on fandom boards and are posted by trolls. Which, a troll telling someone to get a life always gives me a giggle.

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    22. From one fan to another I cringed when you called the crab pendant a Greyhound sigil. The crab is House Celtigar. Walk in the Light of the Seven, we’ll keep our vigil until The Winds of Winter blow

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    23. HotPinkLipstick,

      Yeah, its the trolls who ‘Need to get a life’ – They just waste their life on the net telling others to do so 😉

      The web is full of dickheads and morons and I just ignore them!

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    24. Thanks, Petra! I am still struggling with how to (or whether to) explain to my family why I am part of the fandom. I was so happy to find the very welcoming Watchers on the Wall community after becoming immersed in the show and books. I am fascinated with the intricacies of the books and series and have awakened my long-dormant creativity through making costumes for my daughter and her friends. I have been open about my passion with my work friends, and they have been very supportive and enthusiastic, especially when I told them my husband and I would be attending Con of Thrones! My in-laws are pretty cool about it, too. A few hours ago, when my husband opened his Christmas gift — my promise to make his costume — in front of his 85-year-old mom, her reaction was, “And what are you going to do with that?” We explained about the con, and she and my father-in-law understood and shared stories about their own travels in and near Nashville.

      On the other hand, I do not discuss any of this with my side of the family. I think that they would lecture me about being frivolous and wasting time on something impractical. Lyanna_Targaryen’s one-time date would probably get along with great with my dad!

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    25. A Singer Of Ice and Fire,

      Thank you so much, Petra for this post and articulating your ideas about GoT / WotW so well, I am glad I am not the only one feeling like this.

      Thank you, Singer as well. I totally agree with you. I have been reading Fantasy books since my teens and they are a kind of Religion for me too.

      Some people enjoy sports, some enjoy politics, history, sciences etc. To each their own. I (we) do enjoy GoT and it certainly doesn’t hurt anyone we do so.

      Also, like Black Raven, I am going to miss GoT a lot once S8 is over.
      I have to admit it will leave a hole in my life I hope I can fill with another great Fantasy Adventure.

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    26. “It’s just a TV series…” – God, these statements really piss me off. That’s why I never discuss fansites with anyone from my family. A hopeless case… GoT is currently among my top 3 TV series and this site really makes the experience even more special, even though I’m more absent this year (not wanting to get spoiled and being busy on another non-GoT fansite). S6 was such a journey for me and I really enjoyed writing my reviews here.

      I like how most of the people here respect GoT as an adaptation and not bash it to the ground just because it is not the same as the books. I’m sure when the series finally comes to an end, it will remain in good memory for me. Will it remain among my top 3? Only time will tell…

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    27. I don’t see how us being super fans of asioaf and got is different than people who watch football every Sunday. There are people who are completely obsessed with teams. That is fine. Everybody has their thing. I can say ” it is just a football game.” We all have things we enjoy. Enjoy your life.

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    28. mau,

      I think you will find that those preferring the show (which is great) to the books (which are AMAZING) will differ when you factor in whether one read the books BEFORE watching the series versus picking up the first book AFTER being exposed to the series.

      I’d wager those who read the books first, while finding the HBO show a force unto itself, think it pales in comparison to the world, characters, motivations, psychology that unfolds in the book series.

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    29. Song Writer: I’d wager those who read the books first, while finding the HBO show a force unto itself, think it pales in comparison to the world, characters, motivations, psychology that unfolds in the book series.

      I read the books first, and I strongly disagree with that. One, I do not give a damned about world-building for the sake of the world-building. Two, the storytelling itself got so sloppy after the first three books that it hindered communicating the actual story. All of these extra details are like sawdust added to fine flour and sugar in a cake mix: yes, we have more cake, but the fine flavor is diluted or even distorted.

      Moreover, my view is common among people I know. I know many people people who read the books first (or some of them: most quit reading after the third book) and who think that this series is an example of bad books being turned into good cinema/TV. (Keep in mind that people like me distinguish between “good” books and “books we like”: I love Lord of the Rings, but I would never in a million years call it a “good” book.)

      In general, this series is thriving because it has many, many viewers who are much more apt to know what the Booker nominees are than what the Hugo nominees are: people like it despite the fantasy elements, not because of them. Now, how well the 10’s of millions of viewers reflect the 10’s (or possibly even 100’s) of thousand fans, I do not know: but fans always are a distinct subset within any audience.

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    30. Wimsey,

      “Dragons” was a bit better for me but not that much… I re-read it before S6 but I didn’t really enjoy it.

      In fact, I’m losing interest in the novels in general, especially now that the TV series has surpassed them.

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    31. Lord Parramandas: In fact, I’m losing interest in the novels in general, especially now that the TV series has surpassed them.

      That seems to be a common sentiment among people I know. Of course, I never know how “typical” that is. After all, I am an academic, and thus most of the people I know also are academics. We have very low tolerances for poor writing and even lower tolerances for extraneous details: we tend to assume that people piling on details are just trying to obfuscate a lack of any meaningful implications! (Or, put more crassly, someone who cannot blind with brilliance is trying to baffle with bullshit! 😀 )

      Science Fiction, or just straight up fiction tends to be much more popular in my circles. That written, part of the initial appeal of SoI&F is that the first books read much more like “normal” novels, except that instead of a war novel with guns and cannons, there was magic and dragons, too. However, the magic and dragons took the same place as guns and cannons in a war novel: something that was there and relevant to the plot, but never important in and of themselves save for how these different weapons affect the main characters.

      The TV series itself has taken much more of a SciFi bend, particularly now that we know the origins of the White Walkers. This sort of “Oh, crap, our thinking weapon now thinks that we are the enemy!” has come up a lot in SciFi, particularly in those stories that wrestle with “what does it mean to be human when the traits we associate with humanity appear in other things?” And, of course, you get the same thing from a different direction with the Unsullied and other freed slaves: what do you do when you recognize that those turned into tools by others are still people? Of course, the “degenerate” and “republican” literature of the late 19th century took up this topic: what does a nobleman do when he realizes that he’s no more complicated than a commoner? But it is an issue with which humans will be wrestling forever, and thus it will always be the fodder for stories.

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    32. Thank you for an excellent article, Petra! I really love your perspective on (GOT) fandom and the comments from ‘muggles’ you put forward are indeed the ones I hear most often (alongside dubitative questions on why I am doing a PhD on GOT fans and “who could seriously fund and believe in this kind of research”…).

      As a GOT fan myself and a PhD student on GOT fans, I would love to hear about your experience as a GOT fan in an organic farm with people used to have little wifi, as well as add your testimony to the GOT fans experiences I am collecting for my research. If you’d agree to chat with me and/or meet at a convention, and participate in my research, please do get in touch!

      Thank you!

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    33. The Fanacademic: As a GOT fan myself and a PhD student on GOT fans, I would love to hear about your experience as a GOT fan in an organic farm with people used to have little wifi, as well as add your testimony to the GOT fans experiences I am collecting for my research.

      heh, your dissertation defense should be pretty interesting! Out of curiosity, what is your field? Psychology? Marketing?

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    34. Wimsey,

      Thank you! I hope so!

      I am in Film & Television Studies! I am doing my PhD on the transmedia experience of Game of Thrones’ fans, hence interviewing GOT fans online and offline at conventions, cosplay meetings, GOT touristic sites…etc. So the fieldwork itself is just amazing!

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    35. The Fanacademic: So the fieldwork itself is just amazing!

      I can see your field notes now:
      Day 1: Talked to a Nerd
      Day 2: Talked to a Geek
      Day 3: Talked to a Nerd about how the Geeks are all wrong about everything.

      😀

      (Of course, as an academic myself, I really am throwing rocks in a glass house to call anybody a nerd or a geek…..)

      Seriously, that sounds interesting. As a biologist, I always find it interesting how other scholars go about scientists and scholars go about conducting their studies, delimiting their hypotheses, setting up predictions, controls, models, etc. Of course, if you were doing this with any other animal, then it would be behavioral biology: and, of course, it really is behavioral biology concerning a bald ape with delusions of apotheosis! 😀

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    36. Seriously, that sounds interesting.As a biologist, I always find it interesting how other scholars go about scientists and scholars go about conducting their studies, delimiting their hypotheses, setting up predictions, controls, models, etc.Of course, if you were doing this with any other animal, then it would be behavioral biology: and, of course, it really is behavioral biology concerning a bald ape with delusions of apotheosis!😀

      Hahahah 😀

      Another scientist! Believe it or not, one of the managers of the website La Garde de Nuit, which is the major hub for French and francophones fans of ASOIAF and GOT, is doing her PhD in biology too! There must be something between biologists and GOT! 😉
      What do you work on?

      Thankfully, I don’t do that much predictions, controls, models…etc. I am in team qualitative research and ethnographic research methods!

      Surprisingly enough, the field of Fan Studies being populated with academics who are themselves both geeks and nerds, it limits the whole judgemental thing! Judgement comes rather from other scholars and external society who wonder whether this is “really research” and how much use you can make of it (A LOT, actually!)…

      As for me, I gather fans’ narratives of their experiences as GOT fans in order to find out if (and if, how) these experiences could be improved (with the idea that if we can’t do it for GOT, maybe it’ll give us insights for future hit TV series). Lots of communication and marketing issues in there! 🙂

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    37. The Fanacademic: What do you work on?

      I am an evolutionary biologist. I work a lot on methods for reconstructing how species are related and models of how anatomy (and sometimes genetics) evolved over time (rates, trends, etc.).

      The Fanacademic: Judgement comes rather from other scholars and external society who wonder whether this is “really research” and how much use you can make of it

      Yeah, the sciences are filled with geeky types, too. I found the headline amusing, because ~10-15 years ago it was popular in my circles to refer to non-scientists as “Muggles.” People still understand what you mean if you do it today.

      The snobbery about research is pretty ubiquitous. Of course, all true research is evolutionary biological study of rates & trends (d’uh!), but I’ve come to accept that other things also qualify :D. Seriously, it’s all down to asking and answering questions. One of the funniest things is when the Muggle accuse us of being arrogant know-it-alls: and yet all we do is spend time asking questions about things we don’t know! The Muggles do not get that part….. (And why ignorance = humility, I have no idea: in my experience, the highest form of arrogance to assert understanding where none exists!)

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    38. “Everything that I don’t like should be banned. It’s not normal that people have different opinions or preferences.” -Pretty much sums up the whole internet I think.

      I always like to say that there is no such things as “bad” or “good” movies/books/whatever. Because it’s just way too subjective. One guys “bad” Tv-series is anothers “good” TV-series. And comparing movie to a book is like comparing banana to an apple. It just doesn’t make sense. The two are just way too different.

      And opinions are like asses: everyone has them. I think opinions are overrated. I personally never go spouting my opinions to anyone. I don’t think anyone even cares. If they would, they would ask.

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    39. Indeed,

      You are confusing taste with opinion. Taste is subjective; opinion should be objective. You can like a book or show or film subjectively while recognizing objectively that it’s really pretty bad. This is why we have the term “Guilty Pleasure”: we know that a corny song or schmaltzy movie really is lousy, but we love it any way. Conversely, we also can (or should be able to) recognize “well done, but not my cup of tea.” (The film “A Long Day’s Journey into Night” is my favorite example: an amazingly done film that tells a very powerful story about personal facades, and one that I never want to see again!)

      And to that end, I would add that far more people have asses than opinions! Most people’s “opinions” really are their tastes or feelings: they are not thought-out, objective compare & contrasts of any sort.

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    40. Wimsey,

      Sorry for (really) late reply.

      But how do you recognize that something is “objectively really bad”? How do you even define “bad” or “good”? We would have to ask people what makes a “bad” or “good” movie. Unfortunately I have a feeling that getting objective answer would be impossible. It seems to me that, atleast for entertainment like movies, your opinion would still be subjective no matter how hard you would try to be intelligent and thought-out. Like a critic saying that the movie was bad and another saying it was good.

      But I kind of understand your meaning when you say that “You can like a book or show or film subjectively while recognizing objectively that it’s really pretty bad.” I feel that sometimes but I think it’s only because other people keep telling me that the movie I like is actually really bad. And then i’m thinking that I really like that movie but so many people hate so it must be a bad movie. I mean surely these mighty professional critics know better than a silly peasant like me? For example when critics complain actors performance but I personally thought they did fine.

      I guess I also never experienced that “guilty pleasure” thing. Actually I have never even heard of it. Personally if I never want to see a movie again it means that I didn’t like it at all. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that some people did like it and there is nothing wrong with that.

      I am a bit puzzled when you say that “we also can (or should be able to) recognize “well done, but not my cup of tea.”” How do I recognize when a movie or whatever is “well done”? It seems like I would need to understand how movies are made and under what kind of constraints the actors and all the other people work. I would need context and more information before I could pass a judgement that is as objective as possible. Or maybe I would just need to know what makes the movie “good” and “enjoyable”. But then again that becomes too subjective. Why do I even need to know when something is well done? Can’t I just focus on myself and just say that I either did or didn’t like the final product?

      I don’t know. Maybe i’m just ignorant fool and just don’t understand how movies, books, tv-series etc. should be made. I just hate when someone tells me “you should watch this movie. It’s really good!” And then I find out that I didn’t like it. I’m always saying that you should do what you like instead of listening to other peoples opinions. Obviously there are exceptions of course where another view is useful.

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