Social Media Made Me a Game of Thrones Fan

In Entertainment by Andrew Selepak

Games of Thrones, or #GOT, is the best show on television, and I am not the only one who believes it.

The Season Six premiere on April 24, 2016, was watched by 7.94 million viewers. Combined with the two replays of the premiere later that night, the show’s total was 10.7 million viewers. This far outpaced the second highest rated cable show for the week, Fear the Walking Dead, which aired at the same time and was watched by only 4.73 million viewers.

But Fear the Walking Dead airs on AMC which is part of most cable plans, while Game of Thrones airs on HBO. To watch #GOT, fans have to pay for the premium channel to watch on their TV, or get someone’s HBO GO password to watch on their mobile device if they don’t pay for the channel. One of the biggest reasons I have HBO is to watch Game of Thrones – so I don’t need my cable provider or HBO checking to see if I am doing anything I shouldn’t be and illegally watching.

But high ratings alone don’t make #GOT the best show on television. If that were true, “Big Bang Theory” would be the second best show on television with 14.16 million viewers the same week as the Game of Thrones premiere.

The reason I and millions of others love Game of Thrones is because we are fans – almost obsessive fans. What makes it worse is that we Game of Thrones fans can all obsess in so many different ways.

I have never read any of the Game of Thrones books by George R.R. Martin, although fans can purchase these giant tomes on Amazon in a 5-box set or in individual editions. Amazon sells the books in multiple formats including leather bound, paperback, Audio CD, Audible Audio, paperback, and library binding.

I’ve also never bought any Game of Thrones merchandise, and there is a lot of it including calendars, t-shirts, action figures, board games, replica Iron Thrones, coffee mugs, and replica swords:

sword

While you may be able to kill a White Walker with your own Longclaw, it won’t protect you from the Brothers of the Night’s Watch or from people asking what else you could have done with $2,000.

Although looking at all of the Game of Thrones merchandise, I do want a Sean Bean, Ned Stark figure. #TheNorthRemembers and I remember one of my favorite characters from Season One.

nedstark

So while I don’t own any merchandize, yet, and I have never read any of the books, I obsess over the show in my own way.

I follow Game of Thrones on their Facebook page, I follow the show on Twitter, and I follow a few #GOT Instagram accounts including Peter Dinklage, Sophie Turner, and Game of Thrones. And while I don’t follow the account, I frequently search for Game of Facts on Instagram too (Note: I went ahead and decided to follow this account since I started writing this).

By connecting to the show and characters, including the actors who play the characters, I feel more of a connection to the show and an investment in the whole Game of Thrones Universe. I am a fan of the show and not just a member of the audience. My fandom is the reason I wrote this piece in the first place.

It is also the reason that in addition to following different #GOT accounts, I also tweet about the show:

AndyTweet

But my connection and fandom goes beyond following a few social media accounts and sometimes obsessive tweeting.

I downloaded the Game of Thrones ringtone for my phone and have #GOT notifications for text messages. Like a failed rescue at Hardhome, I cannot keep Game of Thrones off my phone.

That I am always listening to Game of Thrones on my phone only makes sense because I am Ned Stark according to Spotify based on my musical tastes:

AndyTweet2

I also frequently bring up Game of Thrones in my lectures or include .gifs on my PowerPoint slides. At this point, even my students know how much I like the show and have started tweeting various Photoshopped images of me on the show which I then retweet or post to Instagram:

AndyIG

I should say that I’m not sure why I had to be Lord Varys. I see myself as more of a Jon Snow who knows something, or a younger Jorah Mormont without the Greyscale, or a still living Eddard Stark. Seriously, Sean Bean is good in any role.

Perhaps my students have started to see it as well which is why their Photoshopping has changed. So while I am about half a foot taller, I could be Kit Harington’s stunt double.

KitAndy

The fact is, Game of Thrones is the best show on television, not because of ratings but because the audience is made up of fans. Game of Thrones fans are active participants in the Seven Kingdoms wearing Game of Thrones costumes, eating food from the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook, and washing it down with Game of Thrones beer. And yes, I have made Game of Thrones recipes.

By comparison, NCIS is the highest rated show on television, and the same week of the Season Six premiere of Game of Thrones, the Tuesday night episode of NCIS had an audience of 14.798 million viewers. But while NCIS is a good show, the audience isn’t made up of fans dressing up as Leroy Jethro Gibbs for Halloween or Photoshopping their face over Anthony DiNozzo’s.

Instead, fans like me and the millions of others will enjoy season six and fret over #GOT showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announcing #WinterIsComing and there will only be 13 more episodes of the show after season six.

But we #Throners may take solace in the rumors of possible future Game of Thrones spinoffs.

So here’s hoping that George R.R. Martin, or David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, come up with a spinoff of me as a younger Ser Bronn of the Blackwater – have I mentioned the Game of Thrones Wiki yet?

But even if I don’t end up in a spinoff as Ser Bronn or adventuring through Westeros with Sandor Clegane after Arya left him to die, I will continue to be a fan and watch my favorite show and continue to follow it across social media channels.

And if that is not enough, I can always get my Ned Stark figure and hope someone Photoshops me onto a photo on Khal Drogo’s body since it is obviously the only appropriate comparison.

Until then Throners, “The Lannisters send their regards.”

About the Author

Andrew Selepak

Twitter

Dr. Selepak is a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in Social Media.