Thursday, 30 June 2016

Storytelling, Reaction Videos and Game of Thrones

So like millions of people across the globe, I love Game of Thrones. I sit, waiting (not so patiently) every Monday morning for the live stream through Foxtel. Do not ring me, talk to me or knock at my door because I just won’t answer. The entire sixth season has been great from No One to the horrific brutality of the Battle of the Bastards and finally the triumph over House bloody Bolton. And I have to say that the season 6 finale was the most satisfying and uplifting one of the whole series to date.

After the finale, I couldn’t settle. Perhaps it was the knowledge that I’d have to wait until next year for Season 7. Or maybe it was I just couldn’t quite say goodbye yet. Anyway, I went around the web and checked out a few commentaries and reaction videos. I think some of the reaction videos can be quite funny but as a rule, I generally don’t watch them – yet this week I did.

I learnt several things as I watched. The first one is that I’m not the only one that makes stabby gestures and yells at the t.v. – kill him, stab him, oh, for heaven’s sake just kill him. So I suppose that’s comforting on some level.

The second point was just how important storytelling is. From time immemorial we have sat around fires as the night closed in and told each other stories of great heroes, battles and magic. The stories served to teach us about bravery in different forms, strength, honour, love, vengeance. They tell of how our world came into being and how we fit within it. They taught us how to live and what to aspire to. From Achilles on the plain of Ilium, the tricky Odysseus and the Heroic Code to the myths of Asgard, Beowulf and the Mabinogion to fairytales, 1001 Nights, medieval ballads and the Parsifal myth; they all have lessons to those willing to listen. How to be brave in the face of adversity, how to show compassion, how to use your wits and how to live with honour.

                                                                                                          Game of Thrones Season 6 - Battle of the Bastards (Credit: HBO)

The above image shows the lovely Jon Snow facing down the enemy supposedly single handily. It is not an original image and has been used to optimum effect in storytelling for centuries, but it still evokes a powerful response in reader/watcher/ listener. A hero or a small group of heroes confront a huge insurmountable force. His cause seems lost and yet he will still meet his enemy head on and die fighting.


The third thing I noticed with the reaction videos was that they were very similar. I suppose I should have expected that they would be. We all seemed to cheer, cringe and shout for joy in the same places. And in my case cue the stabby gestures and the kill him rant.

But the underlying theme for me was that the old lessons were still there. And it doesn’t matter in what format they’re presented – oral, written, drawn or on the screen. They reinforce what we have already learned when reading our very first fairytales and myths. They connect us and give a shared view of what it is to be heroic. And then with that knowledge our perception of what could be/should be is altered. How you internalise and use the information is up to you. When confronted with a situation do you react or do you draw on the knowledge learned?

And no, I don’t mean picking up a Valyrian sword and hunting down a nearest White Walker. But rather taking the higher ground, the warrior’s path and the heroic code. You’re brave, you’re clever, you endure, you know what’s right, you’re Achilles, you’re Beowulf – you’re House Stark.

And that’s the true power of storytelling.
Thanks for dropping by.
Nic√≥le  xx