Game of Thrones…. Just the mention of this cultural phenomenon not only brings up a plethora of emotion and connection to character, it also brings up an unlimited amount of opinion, especially critical opinions. There is not need for a spoiler alert on this post because the content of the show is irrelevant, the greatest tragedy is not happening in the streets of Kings Landing bur rather on blogs and the comments sections dedicated to lambasting the show. People have relentlessly hammered the last few episodes, their writing and their character development. Comments like “this is the worst writing” and “the entire show is trash now” are all too common in the past couple of weeks. There is even a petition with thousands of signatures going around calling for the producers to rewrite and remake the final season.
This is privileged absurdity at its finest.
Really? we are going to trash an amazing show, built on incredible writing, acting and cinematography because it isn’t ending in such a way that gives a warm feeling in our stomach and goose bumps on our arms?
This is not a post about Game of Thrones. This is a post about the current state of our collective psyche.
A few weeks ago I went to see Rob Bell’s “An Introduction to Joy Tour.” It was fantastic. It was funny, insightful and challenging. One of his bits in the show was to point our how collectively critical our society has become. This is when he made the astute observation that nitpicking and critique are just lazy. My ears perked up immediately. I have felt that for a long time but never had those words put on it.
Critique is lazy, unimaginative and easy.
We are so hell bent right now on finding the wrong, and trust me there is plenty of it to find, we forgot the real work of humanity is not to simply find the wrong but to creatively engage it, expose joy and goodness to overcome it and to be co creators of beauty in this world.
It is easy to criticize, which is why so many people do it and why it is honestly so boring.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown reintroduces a Theodore Roosevelt quote “
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I love this quote so much but I feel its wisdom is lost on so many of us. “It is not the critic who counts” does not ring true in our culture, in fact it is the opposite that seems to carry the most weight. Monday morning quarterbacks, argumentative pundits and anonymous trolls in the comment section have all been armed by the amplification of the internet. While criticism is lazy it has been made into a form of entertainment, the center ring of a three ring circus that we call call social discourse. We lap it up and we beg for more.
**Disclaimer: I am not talking about injustice here. When the rights of others are being violated, people are being oppressed, injustice spewed like an open sewer, we all need to speak our, advocate and protest. That is not lazy, it is vital.
So, back to Game of Thrones. Let’s see how it is going to play out. It is a story, a story that has not yet ended.. When it does end, enjoy it, learn from it, derive social commentary, ideas and celebrate the creative genius that can conjure entire worlds, languages, complex characters and engulfing stories purely from their imaginations. If something rubs you the wrong way, disappoints you or makes you regret naming your first born daughter Daenerys that is ok, in fact it is good. Instead of cheaply lashing out at people who “are actually in the arena” take that same energy and ask the introspective questions, “what about this caused such a visceral reaction?” “what do these emotions tell me about my own journey?” and “why did I think it was a good idea to name my first born daughter after a character whose story has not yet been fully told?” Reorient that energy, passion and angst, use it for good, because like Teddy said, “It is not the critic who counts…”