”I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don’t always agree with them.”
George H.W. Bush
The Best 'Game of Thrones' Scenes
I realised that something I do when I'm drinking alone is watch my favourite scenes from 'Game of Thrones' and marvel at how brilliant they are, but it had never occurred to me to write about them. I, like many, thought the show dropped in quality after it stopped being based on the books, but although I do think that Benioff and Weiss were poor when it came to making the narrative themselves, they were masters in the art of adaptation, and that is something I've made clear here in some of the scenes I've chosen. I also might disappoint a lot of people because I haven't included any scenes from the night's watch/beyond-the-wall narrative or the Daenerys Targaryen narrative. That isn't because I didn't enjoy those storylines, I just always found the Westeros narrative far superior, and was disappointed that the potential that was there in those other two narratives never really took off. I will have to give an honourable mention to the birth of the dragons, which is an epic ending to the first season (which, as a season overall, I think is the best one), but that scene, brilliant as it is, just reminds me that it was part of a narrative with so much potential that was ruined tremendously in the last couple of seasons. Not including these storylines might annoy a lot of readers, but that would require there to be a lot of readers, which I imagine there won't be given I do not work for a big Journalistic outlet much as I'd like to. Anyway, after much deliberation, I've narrowed my favourite moments down to 5. Here goes:
Portrait of the Artist as a Cancelled Man
A recent news story reported that Bob Dylan, one of my favourite artists, had been accused of grooming an underage girl in the 1960s. This took place shortly after I bought a big framed portrait of him for the wall of my new flat, and reopened a thought process that lots of people go through, I imagine, especially in this so-called "cancel culture" age. And that thought process is, essentially, can you continue to enjoy art made by a troubling artist?
A Shock to the Heart of the West
It's coming up to the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the worst terrorist incident in world history, and, together with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, it's got me thinking about a lot of comments people frequently make about terrorism, the War on Terror and Western overseas intervention as a whole.
The Most Powerful Scene in Movie History
I love 'Taxi Driver' and watch it at least once a year. One of the greatest character studies in history. Between Paul Schrader's reality-steeped script, Martin Scorsese's haunting direction and Robert de Niro's engrossing performance, never has there been a truer depiction of a troubled mind, an unstable man, and the bleak nature of urban loneliness.
I recently finished watching 'The Sopranos' (highly recommend by the way) and it's an interesting insight into Mafia culture in the modern world. The idea of being a "rat" as the worst thing you can ever be is interesting, especially given how common a thing it has become in the advent of the witness protection programme and the rise of FBI influence since the 1960s. The Mafia is full of rats, but the code still stands. And it is punishable, deservedly, by death, members would say.
'You know my methods, Watson'
I've recently re-read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and was going to write a review, but tuning into the news at any given time has given me a different idea. Think of this as an advice column for the media. A response from a hypothetical 'Dear Sir Arthur,' if you will.
The Slytherin Approach to History
Two recent news stories got me thinking about cancel culture from an odd perspective. One was the resurgence of calls to topple troublesome statues, this time about the Rhodes statue at Oxford again, and the other was the reported falling out between Stephen King and JK Rowling, owing to the latter’s controversial remarks about trans people. There may not appear to be much of a link here, other than a reminder that cancel culture isn't going away anytime soon, but it reminded me about how I used to feel about JK Rowling before she was cancelled, back when she was a prominent Twitterer and, quite frankly, a hero on the left for her takedowns of Trump, among others. To me, she essentially embodied all that online culture wars thrive on. Until, as is often the case these days, it came for her. And she saw the light. But what's this got to do with statues, you might ask? Well, the whole statue controversey brought to light an interpretation of the extreme negatives of this approach to history that I got from the 'Harry Potter' books, and one that I always found odd that JK Rowling didn't seem to espouse in her real-world politics until she she experienced the full force of it.
What Everyone Gets Wrong About Harper Lee
This is something I've been wanting to write about for a long time and recently I've seen things that have made me decide to really make an effort and write it. I was looking for stuff to watch and saw that during lockdown a show called ‘Lovecraft country’ had been popular. I saw Jordan Peele was involved and I enjoyed 'Get Out' and although I don't think I've ever read anything by HP Lovecraft, I've heard of him and his work sounds interesting. This led me to be linked an article in Vox about the show. I was soon informed, via the article, that, among other things, Lovecraft was a huge racist with absolutely no argument, something that the show explores in what sounds like a creative and interesting manner. However, the article then started talking about 'complex literary legacies' in relation to racism, specifically referring to the fact that the central character in the show is named 'Atticus,' which the article claims 'saddles him with a complicated relationship to the flawed white saviour of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.''