Beware! Guest Postapalooza days are switching up over the next couple weeks!
We’re back with Satsuma, who’s got some interesting comparisons between The Hunger Games and another popular series, Game of Thrones.
SPOILER WARNING: Do not read this post unless you don’t mind getting spoiled for the Game of Thrones series up through Season 3 (or A Storm of Swords, if you’re the reading type!)
So anyone who follows this blog, might have noticed there’s a lot of crossover between The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fandoms. Not at all surprising, because the two stories have MANY similarities, though I think there are some differences, too. Part One will discuss general parallels, and will be relatively spoiler-free. Part Two will discuss how both franchises face similar issues when it comes to adapting books to screen. This has much more spoiler potential, please be careful!
Part One: Parallels, so many parallels.
1. Both stories have “Game” in the title. DUH, right? But really, both stories have as a major theme the idea of Playing the Game for survival, conquest, or power. In THG, you win merely by being the last one standing. GOT, people are playing to win the Iron Throne, or at least the political power behind it, BUT it’s also about survival, because “When you play the game of thrones, you either win or die.” (Thanks Queen Cersei !)
2. Both stories are fairly “realistic” for genre fiction. THG has elements of science fiction, but the story does not focus on, or depend on those elements. Same for the fantasy/magic elements of GOT; there are dragons and zombies, but both feature in subplots that have, at least so far, not been as important as the political ones.
3. In both stories, “no one is 100% good or 100% bad”. (Quote from George R.R. Martin himself!) Although some characters are ALMOST 100% one way or the other, the vast majority are shown to be imperfect, but with SOME redeeming features. GOT has more “political parties” than THG does, but in both stories, there is no one side that is totally justified in every action. The Starks seem to be the closest there is in the GOT world to heroes, but not everyone allied with their cause is heroic, and many of the Starks make questionable decisions that lead to death and destruction.
4. Both stories contain a LOT of violence, much of it grotesque and horrifying. (I even think both stories have elements of the Horror genre). Now, one difference is that GOT contains a lot of sex, as well, and THG certainly isn’t filled with sex scenes like GOT. But THG still mentions prostitution, which is also a big part of GOT, and many fans have speculated that Gloss and Cashmere’s relationship was a lot like Jaime and Cersei’s.
5. Both stories feature some good ol’ fashioned in-cave loving.
6. Both stories show people fighting, with primitive weapons, for the entertainment of others. One of the books the GOT series is based on, actually does include scenes with “pit fighters”, who are gladiators. And in both show and books, knights are shown competing in tourneys, and dying in them as well. I think Sandor Clegane would find the Careers in THG to be quite similar to the knights of his world.
7. Both stories were written by authors who are definitely NOT afraid to kill off major characters, including the “heroic” and “innocent” ones. GRRM has promised readers “a bittersweet ending”, and I think most THG fans would find “Mockingjay has a bittersweet ending” to be the MOST positive spin on what happens. Oh, and both authors have been accused of writing “food porn”.
8. Here’s one difference. In general, the GOT series focuses mostly on the political power brokers, the Snows, Coins, and occasionally the Plutarchs and Boggs of the world. The “smallfolk”, or commoners, are essentially helpless pawns in the schemes of the highborn. THG focuses much more on the plight of the average District citizen, and doesn’t shy away from exploring the moral agency of those who are NOT conventional power players, such as Gale, or even Katniss herself.
(BTW, I think Plutarch would do very well for himself if magically transported into Westeros, and would give guys like Varys and Littlefinger a run for their money.)
9. Both fandoms have very dark corners. Some THG fans think Coin’s idea to throw Capitol kids into the Games was justifiable revenge. There are fanfics set in AUS in which the rebellion failed and the Games went on, that seem very close to glorifying the Games. However, it seems to me that such disturbing fans are only a small subset of the general THG fandom. Not so sure about GOT/ASOIAF.
Especially these days, as a recent shocking event in the GOT series, has gotten many fans, even the usually reasonable ones, clamoring for a total slaughter of anyone involved with what happened, even the innocent children of the perpetrators. This, to me, is genocide. (It’s also what Coin implied would happen to the Capitol citizens if the Victors voted down the “Capitol Hunger Games”.)
Now, I’m sure most GOT/ASOAIF fans clamoring for the annihilation of a particular House, would claim, “Of course I wouldn’t support genocide in REAL LIFE!” But the truth is that one of the major justifications used for genocide, or other atrocities, is by framing these actions as revenge for previous atrocities.
10. Both fandoms are beset with arguments between “book purists”, and fans who are more lenient when it comes to changes from the books in the screen adaptations. But that is material for my next post.