‘If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention’
Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith, and Feona Attwood
The launch of season 8 of Game of Thrones was met with a storm of controversy, culminating in an online petition which attracted almost two million signatories. This chapter explores the reasons that people gave for complaining, in particular looking at what it means for a series to ‘end well’, and what it means to say that characters, or their fans, do not ‘deserve’ what happened to them.
Game of Thrones proved a huge success, but also the focus of many inquiries, debates and controversies. This opening chapter takes a broad look at the range of impacts and uses from the TV show, covering celebratory and marketing adoptions; its parallels with real histories and politics; its uses as metaphor for contemporary events; and approaches through media tourism. It considers debates over the adaptation from books to television, and over different representations (especially disablement and gender). Finally, it considers the thinness to date of actual audience research, and the problems with attempts to see the series from an ‘effects’ angle.
This chapter reviews some recent ideas about how the nature of fictional characters (and especially fantasy ones) might be changing in response to broader cultural shifts. It then deepens the investigation of character choices, by examining in detail how different groups affiliated with five top choices: Tyrion, Jon, Arya, Daenerys and Jaime. The chapter examines the kinds of affiliation that audience members make with characters, and it explores how these relate to audience orientations towards the TV show and to gender.
The eight-season-long HBO television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones was an international sensation, generating intense debates and controversies in many spheres. In 2016–17, an international research project gathered more than 10,000 responses to a complex online survey, in which people told of their feelings and judgements towards the series. The project was an ambitious attempt to explore the role that ‘fantasy’ plays in contemporary society. This book presents the project’s major outcomes. It explores people’s choices of favourite characters and survivors. It looks at the way modern works of fantasy relate to people’s sense of their own world, and what is happening to it. It explores the way that particular televisual decisions have generated controversies, most notably in relation to presentations of nudity, sex and sexual violence. The book uses the project’s distinctive methodology to draw out seven ways in which audiences watched the series, and shows how these lead to different responses and judgements. Notably, it leads to a reconsideration of the idea of ‘lurking’ as a problematic way of participating. A pair of complex emotions – relish and anguish – is used to make sense of the different ways that audiences engaged with the ongoing TV show. The book closes with an examination of the debates over the final season, and the ways in which audiences demanded ‘deserved’ endings for all the characters, and for themselves as fans.
This chapter examines the claim that Game of Thrones is a lens for thinking about the world, and having metaphorical meaning, for example, in relation to climate change or the rise of politicians such as Donald Trump. The chapter considers how audience members describe the lands and peoples that intrigue them, what they understand ‘winter’ to mean in the series and how they think about the world of Game of Thrones and its relation to our world. Drawing on these responses it explores how these aspects illuminate audience understandings of the role of fantasy in contemporary culture.
Charles Spaak is one of the earliest major screenwriters in French sound cinema, alongside Marcel Pagnol, Jacques Prévert and Henri Jeanson, and the first to start out by writing for the movies. He collaborated as writer on around 100 feature films in a career that spanned more than forty years, and was one of the most sought-after screenwriters of the classical period, described – in opposition to Prévert, the poet – as the ‘dramaturge’ of French cinema. This chapter explores Spaak’s role in shaping the classic French cinema, influencing the stories that were told and their recurring preoccupations, including themes indelibly associated with the 1930s, such as social class, exile and nostalgia, fatalism and the construction of masculinity.
This chapter discusses how screenwriters have developed effective strategies for transposing transient, non-standard, local language variation into dialogue. It investigates the writing process, the texture of the dialogue and its performativity in several key films made after 2000, including L’Esquive (Kechiche 2004) and Entre les murs (Cantet 2008). It explores how the screenwriting strategies of both Kechiche and Cantet embrace the dichotomy between authenticity quest and a mere masking of dialogue contrivance. As screenwriting directors, Kechiche and Cantet capture, and sometimes appropriate, the language codes of young people in urban communities. They implement screenwriting dispositifs that impact on the characters’ language use and the creation of film dialogue serving their authorial signature style. In doing so, they address and subvert the stereotypes attached to parlers jeunes while displaying on film the oral qualities and inventiveness of the dialogue.
With over eighty films to his credit, Jeanson is one of the foremost writers of classic French cinema. His fame is largely attributed to his talent for the mot d’auteur, the scene-stealing line which leaps off the screen and threatens to undermine the narrative illusion. Indeed, Jeanson is responsible for hundreds of the best known lines in French film history. He vigorously defended the idea that dialogue should not pass unnoticed, reacting violently against critics who complained of dialogue that was ‘too brilliant, too witty, too written’, and showing contempt for the idea that lines should ‘discreetly cross the screen on tiptoe so as not to excite the spectator in his boredom’ (Jeanson 2000: 9). This chapter considers Jeanson’s career, sketching out his unique position among French dialogue writers, his preferred themes and screenwriting style, and the connections between his journalism and his film writing. It also explores Jeanson’s collaborations with the actors who performed his ‘spectacular dialogue’, analysing the pleasures of cinematic dialogue via the connection it establishes between writer, performer and audience.