Reading on subway
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Harry Potter and the Fifty Shades of Hunger Game of Thrones

by Maren Fischer

So I’m currently obsessed with Game of Thrones.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “So is everyone else on the planet, that’s old news.” But I would like to at least make a pass that I am reading the actual books first, before watching the show. (Though nothing wrong with only watching the show, I hear it’s amazing.)

As you read this, I myself am most likely somewhere non-conducive to reading, such as the N.Y.C. subway during rush hour; squeezed in among twenty other people in a 5 by 5 foot space, yet still obstinately clutching my book in one hand, and barely holding on to any part of the train with my other, determined to sponge up the end of my current chapter. Why are these books (and show) so addicting, you ask? Could it really be worth attempting to one-handedly read a War and Peace-sized tome during my daily stint as resident Rush Hour Sardine? Well, I think so… but then again I’m probably kind of crazy, and others surely have more sense than me to either wait until they get home or just listen to the dang audiobook.

But anyway, that’s beside the point. The point is that these books and consequently this show has ensnared numerous fans, even those who do not usually enjoy the “fantasy” genre. Why is that? My reasoning is that it does all of what entertainment is meant to do for us as people, and it does it in the highest of skilled ways.

It wasn’t until reading this series (the collected books are called A Song of Ice and Fire), that I had a realization about what might make certain items of entertainment blow up into a popular frenzy. Harry PotterBreaking BadThe Hunger Games… perhaps even Fifty Shades of Grey. Is there a magic formula in which you can just fill in the blanks and pop out a bestseller? I think we can all hear the resounding no in that one. But in my view there are a few aspects that create cousins of all these widely-loved items.

Let’s break down Game of Thrones. War and fighting and killing. Endless amounts of violence. And sex. Lots of sex. But then there is also love, honor, politics, loyalty, betrayal, religion, gender studies, societal studies, identity, magic, mystery, and I’m sure I’m missing much more. The reckoning of all this being that this series has employed what seems to be a successful elixir: taking the very primal, base, and visceral aspects of humanity such as sex or violence or matters of life and death, and interweaving them with the themes that speak to a person’s higher intelligence and conscience. In terms of Freud, author George R. R. Martin covers the triumvirate of Id, Ego and Superego. Add a lot of escapism deftly grounded in realism so that people can still relate and you’ve got your million dollar baby.

Some ultra-popular books, series, shows, etc. are better written than others. Some are much better written than others. But they all seem to include that id-ego-superego mixture for artistic world domination.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to catch a fish who can 1. fight; 2. write its name; and 3. judge crimes fairly, and he can write a book about it and get rich… ok let’s be real, scientists would probably take that fish for studies. And who the hell is that person who taught the man how to get such a crazy fish? I hear the beginning of an epic series unfolding…

Maren Fischer

About Maren Fischer

Maren Fischer is an actress, writer, dreamer, and popcorn lover in New York City. Originally from the good ol' Mitten State (Michigan), she graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Point Park University, and now does way too many things at once, including Shakespeare, musicals, screenwriting, teaching, and even some inventive baking. Her favorite quote: "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels." -Faith Whittlesey. Follow Maren on Twitter @MarenBFischer

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