When culture experts drill down into why a story like Game of Thrones became the most popular fantasy show of all time in the 2010s, one of the subjects that comes up is politics. Unlike most fantasy stories with a king or queen and nobles and stuff, Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire really caught the universality of political gamesmanship. Throughout the decade, the show has been used as a parable for many political ends. But the politics in Game Of Thrones are actually more straightforward than most think.
Game of Thrones as a political meme has been so overused in the last decade, it's nearly become a cliché. From CNN using it to explain Obama's second term in 2014 to European political comparisons, this has been going on all decade. The 2016 election saw Hillary referred to as "Khaleesi" and Trump compared to Joffrey. (Martin agrees with that one.) And don't even get started on the theories of immigration and the Wall.
But there's one parable theory, which Vox hit on last year, that has never been topped: Game of Thrones resonated because it was about climate change, and about politicians fiddling while the weather came to kill us all.
Turns out, they are right. According to George R.R. Martin, his story is a parable about the most dangerous threat to human lives, and how politicians are too busy get elected to do anything about it.
Speaking to The New York Times, Martin laid out a screed.
The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of “winter is coming,” which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles. We’re fighting over issues, important issues, mind you — foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice. All of these things are important. But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community.
Martin went on to insist climate change was the most significant issue of our time.
And it really has the potential to destroy our world. And we’re ignoring that while we worry about the next election and issues that people are concerned about, like jobs. Jobs are a very important issue, of course. All of these things are important issues. But none of them are important if, like, we’re dead and our cities are under the ocean. So really, climate change should be the number one priority for any politician who is capable of looking past the next election. But unfortunately, there are only a handful of those.
Martin's prescience on the subject is remarkable, considering he started the novels in the early 1990s. But perhaps that's why the story is so resonant now. People need an ending that shows humanity survives.
Game of Thrones' final season arrives in 2019 on HBO.