In any election year there’s a temptation, whether among media, politicians, or voters themselves, to treat politics like it’s entertainment. In fact, so many different political columnists have written pieces this year comparing politics to Game of Thrones that the comparison itself is now almost reflexive. So it only makes sense, to treat entertainment — and Game of Thrones — like politics. And that’s what HBO is doing right now.
The pay cable channel has taken full advantage of the election madness to remind everyone of their favorite show while it is on hiatus before filming can begin on its penultimate season. And in order to do so, HBO is giving fans a chance to let democracy choose the next person who they think should rule over Westeros until they die — which sort of defeats the purpose of voting but that’s the way this game works, apparently.
HBO launched the project with a campaign called The GoT Party, advertised with the hashtag #GoT2016, which is attached to a 30-day campaign to get Game of Thrones fans to vote on who they would like to see sit on the Iron Throne, implicitly at the conclusion of the series. In addition to the “What We Believe” platform above, there are four candidates, each with a platform, a list of skills and attributes, as well as a running mate. The field for Game of Thrones’ faux-election consists of Daenerys Targaryeyn (with running mate Tyrion Lannister), Jon Snow (with Lyanna Mormont), incumbent Cersei Lannister (with Qyburn), and Petyr “Littlefinger” Balish (with Sansa Stark).
As of Monday night, Jon Snow leads the voting with 56 percent, followed by Khaleesi (36 percent), Littlefinger (5.7 percent) and Cersei (2.5 percent.) There’s no polling on individual issues, but presumably the mass murder carried out by Cersei Lannister in the season 6 finale did not resonate especially well with voters, nor did Littlefinger’s scheme in season 5 to arrange his own running mate’s marriage to a known sadist and rapist.
It’s clear what HBO is doing here: Using a monthlong contest to keep interest in Game of Thrones during its offseason, especially considering the series won’t be back until the summer of 2017. The other motive is to encourage sales of the digital edition of season 6, as the site features links to buy the latest season on Amazon, Cinema Now, Flixster, Goole Play, iTunes, Sony, Verizon, Vudu, and Xbox. The page also keeps a running tally of likes on the series’ Facebook page, which crossed the 19 million mark on Monday.
This campaign seems like a good idea, so long as HBO doesn’t do something foolish, like actually making the election binding and awarding the real-life Iron Throne to the winner of the fan vote. Even if fan service plays a role in the series’ endgame, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and George R.R. Martin likely know better than to leave their creation to that sort of chance.
Game of Thrones season 7 will premiere in the summer of 2017.