Every time I watch an episode of Game of Thrones, I am left uttering the same phrase as the proverbial man who believes the thermos is the greatest invention of all time because it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold: “How do it know?”
Indeed, how do it know? How does “Dem Thrones” manage to make itself into an analogy for black America every week? Statistically, there must be at least one or two people who watch Game of Thrones only for the storyline or because they, like, really like dragons, battles and sister-brother sex scenes. Yet I’m convinced that most people watch Game of Thrones for its insight into politics and culture.
We have previously discussed how the “army of the dead” (the White Walkers) is a metaphor for the white nationalist movement that seeks to slowly purge this country of everything other than Caucasian Christians.
Although I know this week’s episode was probably written over a year ago, in the wake of Charlottesville, Va.’s version of Wypipo Gone Wild, here’s how episode 4, “Eastwatch,” somehow managed to perfectly capture America’s attitude toward the “alt-right” movement.
Daenerys Targaryen: White Allies
Hillary Targaryen kicked off the episode with what is probably the greatest insight on benevolent white people ever broadcast on television. During her massacre after-party, Daenerys, who is known for her dragon-riding and post-battle victory speeches, encapsulated the very sentiment of the Hillary Clinton campaign and every political movement that tries to include black people:
I am your friend. I am here to help you fight for your rights. I am better and more benevolent than those other leaders. I am not a killer like those other guys, so join me in fighting for justice ... and if you don’t, I’m going to kill you. Watch what I do to these Tarly superpredators.
While Dany looks cute in her cornrows and calls herself the “Breaker of Chains,” we must remember that all she wants is power, and she is willing to do anything to get it. That includes inviting someone to a barbecue and then barbecuing them.
Jon Snow had to take her into a cave and literally show her the writing on the wall before she even believed in the alt-white-walker movement. She has reluctantly lent her support, only because she knows she needs the North if she’s going to win the Electoral College for the Iron Throne. If she really wanted to stop the army of the dead, all she has to do is send her smallest dragon, a few Unsullied, and seven or eight Dothraki.
Shit, if I were Donald Trump, I’d send some Dothraki to North Korea. They can fight like a motherfucker!
Cersei and Jamie Lannister: Wypipo
When it comes to the white supremacists, there are three kinds of wypipo:
- The ones who won’t admit it: You can show some people a swastika logo on a Confederate flag stitched onto a Ku Klux Klan uniform and they will explain it away with something about their heritage, freedom of speech or some other bullshit.
- The ones who want to benefit from it: The GOP, most intellectual conservatives and many other people don’t actually believe that blacks and other people are inferior to whites, but they use the idea to their advantage. They stoke fear of blacks in poor white Southerners. They tell people that Mexicans are taking over. They make you fear Muslims. They don’t believe it themselves; they do it for votes, power and money.
- The ones who don’t care: They have too much going on in their lives to give a damn about other people’s oppression. Maybe they have family issues, a tough job or money problems or have simply been impregnated by their one-handed twin brother.
Cersei and Jamie are all of these. Cersei won’t admit that the White Walkers are real because she is too focused on maintaining her grip on power, which is the same abyss that Trump and the entire Republican Party have fallen into with white nationalists. Neither of them will condemn the contingent who gathered in Charlottesville because they know those people hold the same beliefs that got them into office.
Jamie, on the other hand, knows they’re wrong, but—like many white people who know in their hearts what they see is wrong—he won’t speak out. He knows he is on the wrong side, but he won’t do anything, just like the people who say that voting for Trump doesn’t make them a racist. If you love and support someone who is willing to ignore oppression, then you are an oppressor.
Jamie is scared he’ll offend Cersei. Republicans are reluctant to distance themselves from the leader of their party. Trump is afraid he’ll offend the white supremacist base that voted him into office.
They are all cowards.
The Tarlys: True Believers
Of course, there are always people who have been duped into believing in the supremacy of whiteness. The Tarlys represent the Middle America that truly believes the blacks, Mexicans and Muslims are taking over.
Cersei and Jamie convinced Randyll Tarly—the family patriarch—that the savage Dothraki hordes and dark-skinned Unsullied soldiers want to rape their daughters and turn Westeros into a Third World country. Randyll even passed his own beliefs down to Dickon, his son (who should be angry at his parents for naming him after a penis preposition). They were willing to kill others and die for their beliefs.
They kicked their son out of the family for dating a foreigner. (The only thing that broke the chain of family bigotry is that their son Samwell left home, went into the service and served with a diverse group, then went to Maester State College to get an education.) The Tarlys wouldn’t vote for Hillary Targaryen, even though her political policies would have helped them. In fact, when a terrorist drove through a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville and internet sleuths looked up the license plate, I was sure it would come back registered to one of the Tarlys.
The White Walker Wrecking Crew: Anti-Fascists
Jon Snow has assembled a group to go out and meet the Walker army. He seriously thinks they can capture a White Walker with no strategy other than gathering up a few homies who can fight like a motherfucker.
There is a widespread notion that the “antifa” (short for “anti-fascist”) movement is the other side of the coin of white supremacy, but this could not be further from the truth. They all know that the white supremacist walkers will destroy their country, and they are willing to fight it by any means necessary.
We’ve seen these kinds of white people before. They are the people who were willing to go down to Mississippi to register voters in the 1960s. They are the weird white guys wearing mohawks and black boots willing to punch Nazis in the mouth. They know that once the army of the dead gets a toehold, it will be too late, so they go to wherever the white supremacists are and take the fight to them—even if it is beyond the wall.
The people who are really fighting White Walker supremacy are:
Jon Snow: Our cousin fought for his country in the Battle of Hardhome but came home, only to watch the people he fought for call him a bastard and stab him in the back. And front. And side. But they could not kill him (or keep him dead, anyway). He still wants to fight for what is right, even though everyone tries to get him to bend the knee.
The Brotherhood Without Banners: This group has the blackest set of names ever (seriously, if you told me there was a ’70s R&B-funk trio from Detroit named the Brotherhood Without Banners, featuring Beric Dondarrion on keyboards, Thoros of Myr on bass and the Hound on drums, I’d go buy their album). They are outsider hipsters who don’t want to belong to any group, and they roam around the country fighting everyone.
Tormund: A true
redneck Wildling who doesn’t give a damn about the color of your skin or where you came from. If he’s your friend, he’ll fight for you. There is one way you can tell someone like Tormund from an ally: Allies will tell you how much they are willing to fight for you, and recount everything they’ve ever done for social justice. Tormund will just grab his sword and say, “Let’s go.”
Davos Seaworth: Davos is just a good dude. Everyone has at least one white friend who has been down for them since day one. He’s not much of a fighter, but you can always count on him to do the right thing. And—as he did in this week’s episode when he sweet-talked the Kingsguard—it’s always good to have one white guy around to talk to the police.
Gendry: Like Snow, Gendry is a bastard. But Gendry wasn’t raised in Winterfell; he grew up in the streets. He has never seen the white supremacists who are coming to take over, but he has seen how the system marginalizes people, and he just wants to overthrow the Lannister power structure that held him down for so long.
That’s why Game of Thrones is so relevant: It shows us that there are only a few brave souls willing to fight white supremacy. That’s why white supremacists are getting stronger as they march, trying to take over the country as our leaders condemn the violence on “many sides.”
They have the numbers on their side. They have apathy on their side. They have ignorance on their side. They have history on their side.
All we have are a few good men, the fact that we are right, bravery, courage and the fact that we have survived the longest, coldest winter ever.
Plus, we can fight like a motherfucker.