Must Watch TV?
I have a few friends who are big fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones. I've heard it called “Must watch TV.” That is a phrase I find ridiculous when referencing something as trivial as television shows. I enjoy watching TV and movies, but “Must watch TV?” That is a bold claim for something which adds no significant value to our lives.
Some of those Game of Thrones viewers were even fans of the book. Many years ago, I read the first three or four books. I read just far enough into the series to realize I despised almost every character. Almost none of them possessed any redeeming virtues. Few of them even made the attempt to behave honorably. Those that did, failed very nearly every time. I began actively rooting for dragons to return and burn the kingdom to the ground.
The story had become a hopeless miasma of indecency, selfish ambition, and vain conceit. The ugliest, darkest, meanest parts of humanity were put on display. Meanwhile, the best aspects of human decency were steadily eradicated from those few characters who made any attempt at honorable, noble behavior. It was a dark, cynical depiction of the world, and it left me feeling only anger, frustration, and despair.
I decided this was not a place in my life where I wanted to be. This story did not challenge me to be better. It did not offer hope for a brighter future. It did not encourage nobility of character. The story did not affirm life. Why would I want to fill my mind with something so devoid of affirmation?
It is entirely possible the story would take a turn later and become brighter. That the protagonists might choose more honorable courses for their lives, and the kingdom of the Starks and Lannisters might rise above the hopelessness and despair. But how long could I continue to fill my mind with despair before I damaged my spirit? The more I filled my mind with the dark and ugly “reality” of a hopeless story - the more I became characterized by despair.
So I stopped reading the series, and I refuse to watch it.
I choose to fill my mind primarily with stories of heroism, triumph, hope, joy, and nobility instead. These stories are life-affirming. They inspire me to pursue goals, dream big, and rise above the darkness and desolation in the world around me. Hopeful stories strengthen my faith in the future. They support my desire for my family, myself, and my world. That is my choice.
And that is the point really. I am not saying everyone should stop watching Game of Thrones. Each of us must make our own choices about what we fill our minds with, but that makes it even more important that we think critically about our entertainment choices. The things we think about define us.
So think about your “Must watch TV.” No matter how good the writing, acting, directing, or special effects . . . Is it aligned with your goals and desires for your life?