HBO’ wildly popular “Game of Thrones” is a masterful tale based on the epic George R R. Martin’s book series, A Song of Fire and Ice, that offers everything you always wanted out of life-mystique, intrigue, fantasy, and romance.
It has hooked not only die-hard fantasy fans, but also people who couldn’t have imagined becoming so emotionally and cognitively invested in a fantasy drama that concluded in eight seasons.
But for those unable to take that leap of faith, and testy fantasy critics, one could argue that “Game of Thrones” is not only good for our society but can be good for our health.
True, the rules of physics and other worldly experiences may be a bit bent, but it is a fundamentally appealing experience. It’s the kind of escapism that our brain actually needs.
According to Psychology Today, as audience members or readers of fictional literature our brains go through a cycle of wanting and liking, expecting a reward and getting it.
Not only do we believe in these fictional characters and identify with them but we feel emotion towards them, too.
Who doesn’t want to possess the cunning resourcefulness of headstrong and independent Arya Stark, the nobleness, and intelligence of Tyrion Lannister or feel passion and admiration for the moral compass, courageous Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen?
The ability to get outside yourself and put yourself in someone else’s shoes even through a fictional character has had its value from the time we were children immersed in stories made up of delightful imaginary creatures and characters- “Where the Wild Things Are,” A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh.”
Fiction has served an important purpose of making children more empathetic and kind, as well as develop our ability to view the world through the eyes of another.
Retreating into a world of fantasy and entertainment, a form of escapism, is also a good way to relieve stress, according to the experts. With one caveat: Spending hours imagining your riding on Daenery’s dragon, although the thought is very cool, is not what’s intended.
According to psychologist and philospher, Dr. Hurd, escapism is something else he calls “refueling.” “Refueling refers to things of secondary importance that we do in order to mentally or psychologically recharge our spirits (or bodies) so that we can better handle the primary commitments to career, marraige/relationships, family/kids ectc.”
For the sake of argument, books and television shows set in the “real world” doesn’t make one form of escapism better than another.
Although themes are grandiose and audacious at times- massive fire-breathing dragons, swordplay, magic, and marching armies of the dead- Game of Thrones uses the supernatural to tell us about our own human nature. It takes us on a journey in exchange for temporarily leaving our world behind.
It shows us the prevailing ambition of men and women who clash in a power play of politics, just as complicated as in our own world.
You may say that I am a dreamer, but to me, this puts things in perspective. I think the show provides hope that positivity will prevail.
Which can surely only shape us for the better, not the worse.