In an interview posted Tuesday by The New York Times, novelist George R.R. Martin discussed the political allegories and echoes in his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (the basis for the HBO show Game of Thrones). In addition to saying he saw similarities between President Trump and the adolescent tyrant Joffrey, Martin also granted that the view that the series is an allegory for humanity’s failure to curb climate change is roughly accurate:
It’s kind of ironic because I started writing “Game of Thrones” all the way back in 1991, long before anybody was talking about climate change. But there is — in a very broad sense — there’s a certain parallel there. And the people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of “winter is coming,” which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles.
Writing up the interview, Esquire noted that “Republicans might not like” the political message of Game of Thrones. But in truth, Republicans aren’t even watching the show in great numbers. A 2016 E-Score survey found that Game of Thrones was the most popular show among Democrats but didn’t even rank among the top-ten shows loved by Republicans. To the extent it has a liberal message, Game of Thrones is simply preaching to the converted.
The partisan divide isn’t surprising given the original intent of the series. In earlier interviews, Martin has often talked about how his series is meant as a reply to earlier classic fantasies, particularly J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. While Martin admires Tolkien, he also bristled at the conservative vision of Lord of the Rings, particularly the view of war as a clearcut battle between good and evil as well as the monarchism. “Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper,” Martin told Rolling Stone in 2014. “We look at real history and it’s not that simple.”