A tiny fraction of the overall audience (18.4 million viewers) for the most popular television show currently airing—HBO’s 239 Emmy-awards-winning Game of Thrones—have spent the last few weeks drunk on memes, review-bombing recent episodes to little fanfare or notice. But seeing as time is short, and this Sunday evening both the show and their misguided purpose in life will draw to a close, this small-but-boisterous cloister of zealots in the polytheistic megachurch of modern fandom have brought out the big crossbow: An online petition (!) demanding HBO “remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.”
Helped by an even smaller-yet-somehow-more-misguided army of entertainment writers at a variety of respected platforms (The Washington Post, Vox, CBS, BBC, CNN), this legitimately tiny minority (800,000 “verified signatures,” or 4% of Game of Thrones’ current audience) has enjoyed much ill-earned amplification of their not-at-all-embarrassing fantrum, presumably undertaken for the sake of finding anything of substance to do.
None of the writers or editors at these well-respected news outlets have commented on why they saw fit to spotlight these mostly-anonymous outliers, who are outnumbered by the majority of Thrones’ viewers by the humble count of 17,600,000 other people. Nor have they accounted for their decision to reward the solipsistic fantasies of self-marginalized malcontents, mostly because—in the grand tradition of most entertainment writing—I didn’t even try to contact any of the principal players in this story. I figure that sticking linkbacks you’ll never click in the body of this post is enough CYA action to confidently proceed.
Author Stephen King even got roped into the morass with a “news-making” tweet that earned a truly remarkable amount of engagement by the toxic platform’s standards, as the writer of It, The Shining, and The Stand told his 5.25 million followers (13.15 million fewer people than watched Thrones’ most recent escapade of ornate nihilism) that he didn’t mind how “The Bells” played out, to the ringing endorsement of 14,000 retweets and 80,000 likes (0.07 and 0.43% of “The Bells” audience; 0.26% and 1.52% of his own follower count for context), while 2,000 of the platform’s users (0.01%) felt compelled to pitch two pennies into the yawning abyss of time-wasting and responsibility-avoidance that is modern fandom.
It would be different if these outlets were openly mocking this corner of fandom, instead of adhering to the accepted entertainment writing practice of aiming freelancers at Twitter’s feasting trough of human waste and paying them $5 a shot for rewritten pap—but as it stands, the final days of Game of Thrones will be remembered not for what the show said or did in its narrative, but by the near-meaningless overreaction of a statistically insignificant group of maladjusted .gif-mongers whose noble goal is to assume the form of an 800,000-person-strong kidney-stone snagged at the base of HBO’s urethra.
Fortunately, the odds of HBO committing the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to realize the petition’s demands are exponentially smaller than the already miniscule percentage of the audience that’s signed it. If there’s any lesson to be
learned ignored here, it’s that maybe staring at Twitter all day isn’t the best means of accurately discerning the wants or thoughts of any given property’s larger audience, much like staring into an upper-decked toilet is perhaps not the best way to determine what the weather is like outside.
Game of Thrones sure-to-disappoint-somebody finale airs Sunday night on HBO, followed two weeks later by the 10-years-in-the-making series finale to Deadwood, a better television program than Game of Thrones by almost every measurable metric, save for ratings, rapes, dragon deaths, and angry Change.org petitions.