“Incredible” things you “didn’t know”

Grr. Time to rant against a fairly undeserving target.

I came across a Youtube video on the Alltime10s channel titled “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Game of Thrones”, though it starts with the title “10 Incredible Game of Thrones Facts”.

The list is, actually, “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Game of Thrones if You Were A Person So Not Interested About Game of Thrones You Were Not Going to Watch This Video Anyway”. Also, they weren’t very incredible at all.

For example, the tenth fact: the King’s Landing scenes are filmed in (some medieval parts of) Dubrovnik, Croatia, or as the video puts it, “King’s Landing is a real place”. If you are even a casual fan — watched one or two watcher-baiting documentarettes, visited Winter Is Coming or some other website a few times — you would know this. It’s one of the show’s biggest publicity points that it’s filmed in Croatia! Morocco! Iceland! Ireland! And “The set for Castle X was actually a real castle” isn’t novel or incredible either; even Monty Python did it.

Fact nine is that “sexposition” is a critical term that sprang up because of, um, some scenes in the first season. Again, this isn’t an obscure fact; it’s something even a non-fan would know. To not know sexposition is a term widely used to describe scenes in Game of Thrones, and a term made up for that purpose, you would have to have lived in a cave during season one; I think there were articles on CNN.com and everywhere about the damn term. Late night TV people were talking about it. If you don’t know the word, you know nothing, video watcher.

The eighth fact is worse. “The show’s Iron Throne took 2 months to make, is almost 8ft tall and takes 4 men to lift”.

To be accurate, I did not know that.

To be honest, I didn’t think, either, that the Throne was something cobbled together from styrofoam five minutes before filming started. I didn’t know the exact numbers, but they do not surprise me. In much the same vein, I do not know how tall Kristian Nairn is, but a factlet exclaiming his height would not be a very “incredible” didn’t-know fact either. And so much of the show’s publicity has been “buy a copy of the throne for silly money!” and “come see the throne on tour!” that it being a solid prop is really really not incredible or unknown.

Here’s an incredible fact you didn’t know! Kristian Nairn, playing the mildly gigantic man-of-word Hodor, is 6 feet 10 inches tall! Incredible! You — didn’t — know — this!

You know, I wouldn’t be writing this pissy post if the video had been called “10 interesting facts”, or “10 nice details”; but I’m a mathematician and if you deliberately ignore the meanings of very definitely defined words to make yourself look better I’m going to get incredibly pissy about it.

(Anybody that uses the superlative form of an adjective online is lying. Anybody that does the same on TV is lying too, and also should be beaten with sharp hammers.)

(Also, eighth fact, footnote: “One of the melted swords is Gandalf’s Glamdring”. Which was an idea that went around the Net a few weeks ago. As far as I know this is just some fans saying one of the swords on the back of the Throne kinda-sorta looks like Gandalf’s sword. The sword pointed to as Glamdring looks like a sword and so does Glamdring, so this “fact” is not completely a stupid, unthinkingly propagated piece of uncritical, masturbatory, delusional, foetidly laughable bullcrap.)

Next, number seven: Direwolves were an actual prehistoric wolf species. This is actually not that well known; I can’t snark about this one.

6) There’s a tie-in rap album called Catch the Throne. If you’re interested in rap and the show, you’re likely to know this! And if you’re not interested in either, then this fact could be replaced by “There’s a character called Arya Stark!” and you wouldn’t know it either. And given that two established bands, The National and The Hold Steady, have had songs in the show, an album of not-in-the-show, show-related songs isn’t that novel an idea. Hardly “incredible” anyway.

Then there’s the fifth “did not know”, which is not a thing known by anybody except George R. R. Martin at all: why does Westeros have years-long irregular seasons? “May be from an unsteady planetary axis or ocean currents”, and “One theory suggests an elongated orbit, with periods near to and far from the sun.”

May I offer another? The irregular seasons may be because the sun of Westeros occasionally retreats inside the butthole of a red unicorn called Charlie, drawn in by Charlie’s vacuum-forming exotic gastrointestinal distresses.

This is what is known as fan theory, not fact. The reason Westeros(-plus-environs) has strange seasons may be an unimportant background fact, or it may have relevance to the plot. In either case, nobody in the books knows, and to my knowledge and to the limits of my shaky memory GRRM has never committed to or commented on any particular theory.

And “fans have crazy theories!” is not a very surprising nugget of knowledge in and of itself. With this series it’s one of the most best-known facts. “Tyrion Lannister’s being a dwarf may be because he’s actually a son of the Mad King, or a reverse giant” — may, may!

(And “elongated orbit = weird seasons”? Oh, for fuck’s sake, if you want to explain fantasy with science, try to do it properly. Earth’s seasons come from Earth’s axial tilt, meaning that when the north pole is tilted away from the Sun Finland has a winter: longer nights, shorter days. The period of this seasonal cycle is a year — one orbit around the sun. Half a year later Finland has shorter nights and longer days, and thus a summer. An elongated orbit would (I think) create a second summer-winter cycle: planet very far from the sun, it’s colder for everybody; planet very close to the sun, it’s warmer for everybody — but this cycle’s period would be a year (one orbit), too. These two put together can not make for years-long, unpredictable (to medievals) seasons; they, at most, I think, could give the hemispheres different-magnitude seasons.)

(For example: When the north pole points away from the sun, the planet is at its orbit’s farthest distance from the sun. Thus north gets short-days and cold-days at the same time, while at the same time south gets long-days and cold-days. For the other half of the year, north gets long-days (pole to the sun) and hot-days (close to the sun), and south gets short-days and hot-days. The result is northern seasons are more extreme than southern seasons.)

(Because Earth’s orbit is barely an ellipse at all, the distance from the Sun isn’t, as far as I know, much of an influence on the seasons.)

Next, there’s a porn parody of… uh, this is an interesting… I mean I didn’t…

“An Iron Throne made of sex toys”?

Let’s take a short break here. I need to go and…

Ooh, Ramsay, you sexy bastard, are you gonna make me beg for it?

Next: The George Bush head — a well-known, well-publicized Season Two thing. Amusing, yes, but one more “It was even on CNN.com!” thing. (I can’t speak of the CNN TV channel, but I go to their website to read about US news. What gets a column there I treat as being “well heard” news in the US.)

Next (number two), a certain horse heart was made of gummy bears — again, if you didn’t watch a single season one Emilia Clarke interview, didn’t listen to the comment track, didn’t see a props featurette, sure, then it’s news to you. But if you aren’t a dedicated show-watcher, what is a mention of a horse heart prop going to mean to you?

The number one didn’t-know is… it’s about GRRM and his flippant remark that Game of Thrones was inspired by the pet turtles he had when he was a child. Because he had a toy castle for them, and they died a lot. Ha ha. Which is a humorous just-so story he tells in every interview he gives. I know, I’ve seen probably all of them; sometimes I get stuck on Youtube and can’t think of anything new to look for.

Grr.

Other than this, the video is nicely produced, snappily paced, well written, and pleasant to watch. If you haven’t been watching the show since it began, many of the facts are ones you didn’t know, too.

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