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So much delicious, delicious butthurt out there. I drink your tears.

Nobody who has paid attention to GoT, who has thought for the first second as to the why of it all, should be the slightest bit surprised or disappointed by the ending. All those parents who named their kids Khaleesi or Danerys? Fuckin' pay attention, you twits. The waif who burns a witch and jumps in the fire with her dragon's eggs after settling in with the rapist who murders her brother? That's a supervillain origin story. The Everyman who shuns rule at every step and gives everything up every single time, knowingly and willingly? Fuckin' A. He gets to go off to winter camp with his dog.

Just because Martin made her blonde and cute and slight doesn't mean he wasn't writing Hitler's origin story. Danerys is the girl who double-crosses anyone and everyone, who burns cities to the ground, who sails across the ocean for pure, naked vengeance even when it grinds everyone she knows into dust. The only people she's ever loved are her abusers. She shows no mercy to anyone and is driven entirely and completely by rage and revenge. Yeah - she's been on the right side of history for most of the series but that doesn't make her any less a ruthless sociopath. The writers put this in Tyrion's dialogue. They could not have made it more on the nose.

The whole point of the white walkers? Was to illustrate that power-mad sociopaths will set aside their differences for just long enough to avoid extinction and then immediately get back to the business of killing each other. Meanwhile, Martin has woven prophecy deus ex machina throughout the whole thing so that you know - you know - that whatever is important is going to be fated. Not fated? Not important. The red woman knew she had to burn Shireen so that the king could defeat the white walkers... but she thought the king would be Stannis, who got wiped the fuck out. What she did was drive Davos Seaworth so far into regret and disbelief that he split, sided with Jon and got the alliance that got Danerys and Arya to the wall. Danerys, meanwhile, was told she'd never sit on the iron throne, Cersei was told she'd outlive all her children and the fuckin' Lord of Light kept burnin'sword dude alive long enough to save Arya at the end, no matter the spectacularly ridiculous cost. Hodor? Hodor's life was ruined by a fucking time warp Martin went so far in bending causality to show the cruel, iron callousness of fate.

Game of Thrones started out as the Wars of the Roses and ended with the Peace of Westphalia. Martin's whole point is it sucks to be royal, royals suck, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that the ambitious will do fucking anything for power. Eventually you run out of men to fight - the bloodshed in Saxony was so dire during the Thirty Years War that the Catholic church encouraged polygamy for a generation starting in 1650 because there were no men left to marry.

Everybody in that series got exactly what they wanted, deserved or were fated for. Arya never wanted to be a queen or a princess. She reminds us of as much and sails off to find what's west of Westeros. Jon never wanted to be king and he doesn't have to. He goes back to the place he was happiest, with his friends and his fucking dog. Tyrion always wanted power but never wanted to rule; he's the hand. Davos ends up about where he started because he was fundamentally content. Samwell becomes maester because that's his jam and he's fuckin' earned it. Braun gets Highgarden because, as he says in his own dialog, royals are just those who were good at killing who get to enjoy it until their kids fuck it all up. Cue Tywin Lannister. Cue Highgarden. Cue Dragonstone. Sunrise, fuckin' Sunset. Even the fuckin' dragon comes out ahead, belonging to nobody, flying out to points unknown, because dragons are mystery and magic and magic has left the fucking building.

The whole of that series - the entire purpose of 73 episodes - was to show how someone you love becomes a monster. The whole of that series - the entire purpose of 73 episodes - was to show that if you're true to yourself and true to others, at least you'll avoid torture. Danerys consistently does the wrong thing and ends up burning a city of innocents. Jon consistently does the right thing and comes back from the mutherfucking dead. I mean, consider Catelyn vs. Cirsei - they're both 100% driven not by morals but by the importance of their children. Both do the wrong thing all the time. Catelyn dies Season 2 because nobody else cares about her children; Cirsei makes it to the penultimate episode because she doesn't care about anyone but her children and will spill any and all blood necessary.

Game of Thrones is Unforgiven stretched out to nearly 100 hours. Once Danerys snaps, the only question left is "is Jon gonna kill her." Not how, not when, but if because the time is now. And once Jon kills her the only thing left is mopping up, and the board is so bloody and battered that the only possible cleanup is fuck this shit. And that, in a nutshell, is how democracy got a foothold in Europe. You can hate on it all you want but the ending you got is the only ending you were ever going to get, is the only ending that would have satisfied the story.

Ned Stark died because he was too busy imposing his morals on everyone to notice he was in a deeply immoral place. Rob Stark died because he was too busy pretending life was fair to notice he was dealing with deeply unfair people. Jon Snow died because he was too busy taking care of others to notice nobody else cared... which is why he had to come back to life and keep doing it. Love is the death of duty, duty is the death of love - I mean, that's just Spock in pseudoshakespearean.

Game of Thrones is probably the last thing we'll all watch on television together. It is truly the swan song of mass televised drama. You and everyone you know watched the finale unless you were being contrary - that's 19.3 million people in a country of 330 million. But 86 million in a country of 200 tuned in to find out who shot JR and 104 million - half the bloody population of the country -watched medical army surgical hospital number 4077 go back to the States.

I can't think of a more fitting show to end it with and I can't think of a more fitting way to end it.

kleinbl00  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Anti Fragility

Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids outlines how we got here, chapter and verse. Fundamentally, Jon Walsh, America's Most Wanted and an industry of Sunday night made-for-TV movies fueled a thirst for "child in peril" narratives at exactly the time the Fairness Doctrine was struck down. News ceased to be about what journalists thought the public should see and became what journalists could get advertisers to pay for. Into that abyss throw CNN - nobody watches Baby Jessica for a day and a half straight without this witches' brew in place.

Bullying, however, is another thing. I think you had to be there. Because throughout the '80s... well, hang on a sec and give me a few minutes of your time.

The social outsider paradigm from the end of the Weather Underground was "weak outcasts to be mocked." Sure, we had mass shootings but generally, it was white men losing their shit and slaughtering kids. I mean, Stephen King wrote a novel in which the school shooter is the protagonist. Car wars, a game that celebrates road rage, had a module in which you drive your car into a mall and kill as many shoppers as possible. This was all light-hearted fun until Kip Kinkel.

It was gonna happen somewhere. The jocks TP'd and shoe polished all the nerd cars in '92, except my buddy Bob, who had an AR-15 and an M1 Springfield in his gun rack. Another guy I knew got to beat his girlfriend in public view before class without so much as a protection order. The administration even knew he brought a Luger to school. It took him telling a friend of mine "I'm going to kill her today" to get him expelled - not charged with anything, mind you, but expelled. Social dynamics got tense enough that one side was celebrated for victimizing the other while the other side marinated in a culture of imaginary vengeance. The hardware's there. All it takes is the belief you have nothing to lose.

I doubt Kip Kinkel was the first nerd to snap, write a manifesto, murder his parents, haul a bunch of guns to school and spray it down but he was the first one to merit 24-7 news coverage. So far as I know, he was the last to scream "I'm sorry" as he did it. And maybe there was a poignancy there that tasted delicious to CNN. Maybe it was that he shot at so many people (he killed only two kids but he wounded 25). Whatever it was, "nerds" weren't people you stuffed into lockers anymore. They were the ones who might snap and kill the people you really cared about. It's worth watching that Frontline because it perfectly encapsulates the "someone think of the children" mentality that took over in that brief shining moment before April 20 1999.

Nobody remembers Kip Kinkel anymore. That's because Columbine was nine months later and a lot more cut and dried. Social loners. Art kids. "Trenchcoat mafia." Sociopaths. Gun shows. Video of shooting practice. Kip Kinkel didn't leave nearly the footage of Klebold and Harris so they became the face of it. Taunt a nerd, launch a death squad. Taunt a nerd, get a Myspace suicide. And since we can't do anything about the guns (OBVIOUSLY) and since we can't do anything about Myspace (OBVIOUSLY) what we can do is clutch pearls, wring hands and declare war on "bullies" who - more often than not, remain the social outcasts, the ones who don't have six friends to back up their story, the ones who aren't completely plugged into the varsity sports network.

On the one hand, the schools do duck'n'cover drills because they're more likely to be murdered by a classmate than anything this side of a car crash. On the other hand, be sure to cast out The Others as fast as you can because if we're all in the same clique we're a lot less likely to shoot each other up, right?

Martial arts is useful because it teaches discipline and gives kids something to do. I did tae kwon do; I wasn't about to do football. Martial arts is unhelpful because only nerds do martial arts. You can train twice a week to throw and pin someone in a gi but doesn't take more than a couple Youtube videos to figure out how to kill someone with a .45.

It's never been about bullying. Not really. It's always been about how to keep the outcasts down. Charles Atlas will help you not be the 90lb weaking with sand kicked in his face but Taxi Driver was 40 years ago and in lieu of making it harder to kill people, we're trying to make it easier to cast out the people we might drive to kill.

It's a worthwhile discussion to have? And I celebrate a dojo figuring it out? Even if they're using frickin' Taleb terminology to do it, I celebrate it. But "bully" is just another way of saying "burn the witch" and I don't know that we can really do much about it without some deep societal change.

The Zero Tolerance Generation (pdf)



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