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'Game of Thrones' Book Readers, We Need to Get Over Our Superiority Complex

By Rebecca Pahle | Game of Thrones | June 24, 2014 | Comments ()


dany game of thrones mad.jpg

Friends, acquaintances, mortal enemies who have somehow escaped from their cells and found a reliable wi-fi connection (get back in there!), I have noticed a disturbing trend on the Internet. No, not Cloppers. It has to do with Game of Thrones. No, no, not people failing to recognize Stannis Baratheon as the One True King of Westeros, though that is disturbing. I’m talking about the sort of behavior exemplified in the following exchanges:

Person A: Out of respect for those who just watch the show, we ask that you not spoil—
Person B: READ THE BOOKS.
Person A: Man, I can’t wait to find out what happens to—
Person B: READ THE BOOKS.
Person A: So sad. My dog died last night. Twelve great years. I still can’t believe he’s—
Person B: READ THE BOOKS.

My darling butterflies. Here’s the thing. Reading A Song of Ice and Fire does not make you a better Game of Thrones fan than one who has not read the books. It does not make you a smarter fan or a fan more deserving of respect. All reading A Song of Ice and Fire makes you is a Game of Thrones fan who’s read A Song of Ice and Fire. That’s it.

There are plenty of reasons not to read A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe the person who hasn’t read the books wants to finish the show first, to avoid having a mish-mosh of chronology and discarded storylines in their heads. Maybe they tried the books and didn’t like them. Maybe—and here is the most important point—they just don’t want to read the gosh darned books, and it doesn’t matter why. Someone could honest-to-God just hate reading books, could break out in hives when they even see one, and it wouldn’t make you, the person who can outline the ways D.B. Weiss and David Benioff changed Robb Stark’s characterization, any better than them, the person who tunes in once a week to see that hot chick with the pet dragons.

That’s because it is impossible to be a “”“better”“” fan than someone else. Unless you’re talking about general quality of behavior, in which case the person who whines every time someone puts up a spoiler warning because “Uhhhhh… y’know the whole thing is spoiled by a book series, right? LOLOL” is a worse fan than the person who thinks Joffrey’s name is Jeffrey.

Reading A Song of Ice and Fire does not make you a special snowflake who’s entitled to have the Internet dialogue about Game of Thrones revolve around the way you do things. Obviously, that’s not to say that book discussion shouldn’t happen—at The Mary Sue, where I’m the Associate Editor, we have our weekly Game of Thrones recap followed by a separate thread for book readers to shoot the shit about “OMG, I can’t believe they changed…? Could it mean…?” Making an effort not to spoil non-book readers doesn’t require that we fundamentally change the way we operate. All it requires is a little bit of courtesy. And if you can’t dredge that up, or if you look down on your fellow Game of Thrones watchers as somehow inferior, as opposed to just different…well, I don’t think Ned Stark would be very pleased with you.

Joffrey probably would be, though.

Rebecca (@RebeccaPahle) has been keeping that one pent up for a while.

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