Fall from grace

A lot of things may fall. It’s in the nature of not well understood gravity, that things with masses to fall towards each other. Some secure a stable orbit for a while, others, like toasts or half-empty glasses, do fall onto next obstacle in their trajectory, their mysterious pull towards the center of earth. The devils is said to be a fallen angel, less because of gravity, than because of his choices. This comment here is neither about angels nor toasts – nor the physics which keep devils still in one piece creating ruckus on earth or toasts landing on the buttery side.

Not many fall gracefully. It is likely an involuntary act, unwanted and unforeseen, otherwise it would not happen. Falling gracefully means planning and executing a happy landing – given the nature of the fall and the gravity-pull not calculated in, the impact is often devastating and not very aesthetically pleasing. For the sake of the argument, we line up two politicians of a rather smallish country and the characters of a world-renowed Netflix series, who pushed themselves over the edge into oblivion, tumbling not beautifully on the way down.

One pair of unlikely friendship becoming popular sugar-coating it “necessary coalition” were creating their own gravity to pull each other into a fall, stumbling over ugly scheming. The other is a beloved cast of professional actors performing ugly scheming in Westeros, a fictitious kingdom of seven kingdoms who hit the bottom hard in roughly the same time. The weekend of the anticipated broadcast of the finale of the last season of HBO´s Game of Thrones was coinciding with Austria´s “Ibiza Gate” and the meltdown of the whole government. Style notes for the professionally written and more controlled end of an entertainment adventure – successful, prestigious, loved by millions: 6 rather graceful seasons, a shortish 7th one and then the end, even shorter, even more rushed, full of loose ends tied together in a quick way to appear coherent, but in retrospective, with lost balance, and only on dragon left, there was no good way to get out of this in short time.

I´ll stick to the finale and let the rest sit on the edge of the abyss, looking down slowly shaking the lost heads.

SPOILER ALERT…details ahead!

Boring and wooden, not iron. Charred wood. Not a great sculpture, if you just burn things. Every character falling from grace and being twisted and ridiculed, maybe Sansa the least. The first good thing in that finale was Sansa telling her uncle off who tried a speech in his own favour, clumsily suggesting that he could be…the king? That was funny. Banging the sword to the wooden pole was just hilarious, showing uncultured raw breed under the veneer of seasoned warriors. The whole bunch left is like that, the best ones, as the serious diplomats and minds are gone.

Those left are not politicians, they fight not with their heads, but with blood and steel – it´s the middle ages, stupid. Barbarianism, ruthlessness, being not refined, craving the high-culture of Romans – King Ecbert of Wessex in Vikings, anyone? He at least knew. The impulse of speaking on ones´s own behalf, the “uncle reflex” in a difficult situation of a crisis is perfectly matched by real-world action on a 21st century political stage: the crash of Austrian´s goverment, which imploded over the weekend when Season 8 finale was airing. Vienna, what do I say, the whole republic of the Alps burned down, feeling like a part of Westeros, a little forgotten 8th kingdom, even more remote then the Vale. Both the politicians falling from grace do take the first opportunity to speak and apologise for the situation they created as a moment to indulge in self-praise, rendering themelves as victims and abusing the time for a political rally, devoid of all humility. No Sansa there, unfortunately to shush them.

Both protagonists chancellor and vice-chancellor – allies through mutual usefulness – forming a middle-right-wing government ousting the Social democrats can be are described in GoT fashion like this: one, a mercenary type cut-throat who wanted to play Littlefinger but doesn´t fit in the shoes and got recorded in his scheming on the summer islands (Ibiza), successfully choking his 15 year career. The other one Austrian´s child chancellor, a kind of Joffrey, too young to rule, too ruthless, too impeccable, but with the rhethoric and ambition of Varys. A Bronn as vice-chancellor (ahm, they made Bronn Lord of Highgarden AND Master of Coins – a thief and sellsword,…really? Who promised that?) and a Joffrey/Varys amalgam as a ruling eunuch-king or chancellor (elected by the majority, Sam! Why are they laughing at you, ahm, us?) are both unisono selling out the country for their own advantages after they helped burning it down. Great. For real.

The actual socio-political tragedy over the 7 hours Ibiza tape is topping the fantasy of 8 seasons and is even better storytelling, somehow. Same type of 6 seasons of good GoT meat for hungry small-folk. The last two seasons of mindless Blackwater rush had moments, but the mess was throwing knives in all direction, celebrated solutions unearned and ruining the pace and development of most characters. The outrage is legion, but who cares, it is just a series, not a nation´s health-care plan or dwindling pensions, or threats to crush Iran by military force. We all live in Westeros, that was the appeal.

But then, in real political life, people are working in courts to investigate the loose ends. Why was there no time to show what became of the crazy remainder of the Dothraki hoard, hollering victory with dancing horses, which now would be following Khal Jon, of course. He killed Khaleesi, so he is new Khal Snow, who knows nothing, not even their language. The Dothraki must be confused, drunk and riding their horses into the sea after all that, not even a body to burn and mourn – maybe that is all the witchery of the Winter kingdoms? Why are there any Dothraki left, actually, their arakhs exinguished by the turbo-zombies of the Night of the Living Cold? We do not know. Arya Magellan and her brother Jon Amundsen turn happy explorers and just leave any development of 3 seasons shackled at home. That´s it?

The peace nobel prize goes to sullied Grey Worm NOT executing Jon or Tyrion immediately for killing his queen, when he happily slashes the throats of unknown loyal men who just could not keep themselves from following their queen, but yielded. Drogon, where are thou? What the heck is Bran doing all the time, other than influencing the showrunners as a Three-Eyed Raven, to put him on the throne? Probably he dozed off into warg-mode to send some Hitchcock ravens to RR Martin, forcing him to rewrite his part. That worked, he became the One, Neo in a wheelchair and all the fuss for 8 seasons for nothing. Was this a plan, or not? Where did the magic go? Do we still believe into the different ideologies of politics, after we saw the Austrian “Behind the Scences” Extra-DVD? Why do I write about the incoherent writing of a media franchise? Because storytelling make the world go around. Not really in the cheap sense of the meta-speech the imp was giving – I reckon the only attempt of the writers to appear clever in the finale:

“What unites people?” Tyrion asked. “Armies? Gold? Flags?” No. It’s stories, he said.

“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than…”

And there it trails off into the abyss of incoherent story arcs, flying off the cliff. Usually I am seconding the praise and importance of stories, specially in political life, and human history, but this sounded like a cheat. The stories of Sansa and Arya are better, survivor of Ramsay, slayer of magic ice, maybe his own story as the improbable imp better, Hand of two kings and one queen, surviving whoring, drinking and the wrath of the mother of dragons, breaker of chains he advised so poorly. He is forced to say that, coerced into a little speech by the showrunners, but it does not make sense in grand scale. Bran is not the best story. HC Strache and Sebastian Kurz are not the best stories, not the best politicians. They have a hoard of ghost writers making them appear that there are no other, better choices. A legion of imps seconding the next best choice, paid to do so by the system of parties, studios, shareholders. Not by the citizen or voters. It´s a cheat.

A new wheel, a new yoke awakens, the bickering goes on – just with even less interesting protagonists which look like comedians taking over the most important affairs of the realm. Also very contemporary, as Jon Gnarr (Iceland), Selenzky (Ukrainie) and Beppe Grillo (Italy) show us in real life, they might be the better politicians if the real ones fall from grace. Bran the Broken, winner of the molten iron throne by decree of untold stories. Brigitte Bierlein, a constitutional judge, a much better choice for a broken throne, it seems. First female chancellor of Austria, by decree of the green Austrian president, forming a temporary caretaker government of experts until elections in fall – not through storytelling but earned by hard work, reputation and the bad show being put up by the fallen “stars”…what was the red comet about again? 

There are always alternatives, no matter what the ones running the show tell us…always different endings possible. Call in the writers, care-takers, the clowns, the intellectuals who care. Let’s build a new future and rewrite the past…

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