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New Escapist Column! On the Fan Reaction to the Final Season of “Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. It’s the one year anniversary of the end of Game of Thrones, so it seemed appropriate to look back on the fan reaction to that final season.

The final season is admittedly a flawed season of television. However, that doesn’t quite explain the level of vitriol that it provokes online. After all, the finale was widely enjoyed by general audiences, performed reasonably well at the Emmys and is doing very well for itself in streaming in social isolation. This contrast is interesting, suggesting that there’s something particularly prickly about the final season that alienated its most vocal fans so extremely.

In hindsight, this seems to be the actions of Daenerys Targaryen in the second half of the season. In the home strange, Daenerys ceased to be seen as a “liberator” of the continent, and instead became a conqueror. She did what all conquerors do, raining down death and destruction on those civilisations that do not welcome her. This was all very clearly seeded across the previous seven seasons, but it turned rather sharply against the audience’s sympathy for Daenerys. In doing so, it made the audience complicit in the carnage. One suspects that complicity stings.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (Review)

What exactly is Bandersnatch?

In narrative terms, it is very difficult to describe Bandersnatch, given the structure and format of the latest installment of Black Mirror. After all, two people consuming Bandersnatch might have very different experiences of it. It is possible for certain audience members to experience the narrative fundamentally different ways. Conversing about Bandersnatch largely involves defining what each participant experienced of the narrative, establishing a frame of reference for discussion. It is fascinating in this regard.

However, that is arguably an even bigger question. Is Bandersnatch an episode of television, given that it is being released under the Black Mirror brand by Netflix, even though it is being released on its own terms? Is Bandersnatch a film, given that it is a self-contained narrative? Is Bandersnatch just a video game, given how much it relies on audience participation? These are three very different classifications, and Bandersnatch blurs the line between each of the three.

Marshall McLuhan famously argued that “the medium is the message”, but Bandersnatch takes that a little further. What if we’re not sure what the medium is at all?

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