Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > David Benioff and Daniel Weiss Screwed HBO and Their Own Careers

David Benioff and Daniel Weiss Screwed HBO and Their Own Careers

By now most of you might have heard that the long-running HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ (GOT) ended in a manner that was highly unsatisfactory for most viewers and very predictable due to online spoilers posted over the last few weeks. While I have never been a fan of fictional worlds, from LOTR and Star Wars to Star Trek, I find them to be an interesting way of gauging the prevailing Zeitgeist. For example, most movies made and released during the 1980s were often unusually optimistic. Similarly, 1990s movies tried to become increasingly realistic- especially towards the end of that decade. Superhero movie and other escapist crap started becoming dominant after 9/11, and the past decade has seen an endless number of mindless reboots and poorly executed CGI-heavy crap. Art tends to mirror the era in which it is made.

So where does the 7th and 8th season of GOT fit into all of this? Well.. for starters, I never found that show to be particularly engaging. While its overall quality of cinematography, production values and CGI was very good- the story was rather insipid. See.. good production values and CGI do not make a good, memorable or influential movie- as we all know by watching the Hobbit Trilogy, every Star Wars movie released after 1980s, every Jurassic park movie other than the original etc. A movie with a good story and mediocre cinematography will always be far longer lived and influential than one which looks good but lacks a good story. Don’t believe me.. what are your memories about Avatar, the Hobbit Trilogy, the more recent reboots of Spiderman, Superman , Star Trek, Blade Runner etc.

Getting back to GOT, let me first tell you why I think it became successful in the first place. Here is a clue.. even though it was set in a fantasy medieval-style world, the characters thought and behaved in a manner identical to their 21st century viewers. In other words, GOT was just a slickly filmed version of a decent MMORPG. But what made the story of GOT fundamentally weak and insipid- even before the 7th and 8th seasons? To understand that, one has to go into what separates a good story from an insipid or bad one. The simple, if somewhat tasteless, answer is that all good stories are about fulfilling the wishes and desires of its audience while exhibiting reasonable internal consistency. That is why so many stories end with “they lived happily ever after”, “the good guys or girls won”, “good triumphs over evil” etc. Do you have any?

Stories based in nihilism, amorality, hopelessness etc are fundamentally weak even if the character development and writing quality is superb. While they may eventually end up being considered as “great” works by an effete elite, but such stories will never be truly popular. The book series that the show was based on was.. for the lack of better words.. meandering, unfocused and nihilistic. So why did it succeed, at least initially? The simple answer is that its screenplay was written to be even more relatable for a 21st century audience and the story was given a definite and pronounced arc. But the second, and more important, reason was its timing.

GOT came out in 2011, which happened to the perfect time for a show based in cosplay and neoliberal nihilism. As some of you remember cosplay became big in North American only after 2005, and the global financial crisis occurred in late 2008. But how can certain forms of escapism and a still ongoing socio-economic crisis make a TV show, containing allusions to both, so successful? Well.. tell me something, what did viewers discuss about after each episode was aired and what did they anticipate in the next one? In case you forgot, it was always about who was murdered, betrayed, tortured, mutilated in each episode and how sudden or unexpected it was. Isn’t this eerily like the lonely and precarious lives and careers of most people in North American and increasingly the “West”? You know.. the prevailing Zeitgeist.

Now that we have talked about why that show became popular in the first place, let us now focus on how and why David Benioff and Daniel Weiss (henceforth referred to as Dumb and Dumber) killed the proverbial goose which laid golden eggs.

1] While I would prefer to not say it, there is a strong connection between the ethno-religious identity of David Benioff and Daniel Weiss and how they screwed up this project. And no.. I am not accusing them of being unusually greedy or covetous. It comes down to the hubris of semi-competent people. Confused? See.. you might have noticed that a particular ethno-religious group is rather well represented in the entertainment industry. But why? Is it because they are competent or is it because of social connections. Well.. look at the consistently high rate of failures in that sector. Do you think that competent people who know what they doing could fail so often? Does your doctor or surgeon fail at those rates? Does the engineer who designs your car or helps build a bridge fail as often as those who make movies or TV shows?

The reality is that making movies, TV shows, music etc which are financially successful has little to do with technical competence and much more to do with accidentally stumbling on the Zeitgeist and also knowing the right people to fund your idea. In other words, dumb luck and social connections. But what happens once you succeed? This is where Hubris starts becoming an issue and liability. See.. most people, especially marginally clever ones, start deluding themselves into believing that they have some sort of Midas touch- because the alternative is too painful for them to accept. They start acting as if every stupid idea they ever had will lead to their next hit. More problematically, they start believing themselves to be far more competent than they are.

Dumb and Dumber are probably good showrunners with a decent ability to write screenplays based on existing material. Perhaps they also have a good team who does a pretty good job casting actors, hiring good technical help etc. But they are not good at writing original material. That is why the quality of that show started going doing after the 6th season. But why not after the 5th season- which is as far as the original book series went. Well.. it comes down to the lack of major plot development in the 6th season. Dumb and Dumber went on autopilot and it appeared to work, for a time. Things started to fall apart in 7th season because that is when they went past the point where the need for plot development started eclipsing their abilities. That is when the plot and story arc first started meandering and the tropes started to increasingly resemble those in mainstream movies and TV shows.

2] This is where HBO should have started putting its foot down, but they didn’t for two reasons. Firstly, the ratings were still reasonably good and product deterioration was not yet a PR disaster. The second reason, in my opinion, is that people from any given racial or ethno-religious group, will usually give a much wider berth to those they identify with than those they don’t. There is a reason why white cops will shoot and kill black men holding cell phones but will patiently and carefully arrest white men who have murdered more than a dozen people. In the entertainment industry, belonging to a certain ethno-religious group translates into being allowed to make far bigger mistakes than those who do not belong to said group. That is why Dumb and Dumber were never seriously challenged by HBO about the rapidly declining quality of their product.

Which led to ‘normalization of deviance’ aka progressive institutional failure. See.. under normal circumstances a series of tense discussions with HBO after the 7th season should have reined in their incompetence. But nothing like that ever happened and that is how they made the abortion known as Season 8. But why was it so much worse that the previous season? Once again, for two reasons. First, they went all Michael Bay to cover up the lack of even a mediocre underlying story. Have a look at the amount of CGI used in Season 8 versus any previous one. Excessive use of CGI = lack of compelling story or narrative. But it gets worse. They made the mistake, born of their incompetence as writers of original material, of using mainstream movie and TV tropes in a show which was based on not using them. To make matters even worse, they did not even bother to reconcile their new story arcs and character motivations with their previous seasons.

3] However, the single biggest mistake they made in season 8 was due to factors beyond their control. They missed the change in Zeitgeist since Nov 8, 2016. Prior to that date, letting an incompetent or barely competent white guy “win” in that show or even live at the end was not suicidal. However, doing so after that date has become highly problematic, for rather obvious reasons. As much as it pains me to say this, the only popular ending to that show would have required a woman (the most ruthless one) to “win” that throne. But Dumb and Dumber thought that they could get way with an ending in which the two most powerful and ruthless women characters were killed. Maybe Dumb and Dumber believed in their own bullshit to such a degree that they completely overlooked this major shift in the Zeitgeist.

In my opinion, this mistake (which few want to openly acknowledge) more than any other is going to be remembered as the most problematic. While I am not an SJW, I am also not stupid enough to ignore the change in tastes and expectations of other people. The fallout of Season 8 is going to be especially bad for HBO, given that it was recently acquired by the parasitic bean-counters at AT&T. Between being associated with such public failures, acquisition by AT&T and competition from Netflix- things don’t look bright for HBO. George R. R. Martin’s writing career is the second casualty of this fuck up. Regardless of what he has written before, he will be forever tainted by the failure of Season 8, unless he decides to publicly dissociate himself from the TV show.

The careers of Dumb and Dumber will also take a hit, though it may be a bit delayed. People who invests tons of money into making movies or TV shows usually don’t want to employ people who are seen as the principal reason for the humiliating demise of a profitable flagship franchise. Then again.. Dumb and Dumber might know the right people.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. P Ray
    May 19, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    It gets better, Benioff and Weiss will direct the next Star Wars movie!

    Can’t wait to see how badly that will trainwreck.

  2. Conscience Constituent
    May 20, 2019 at 3:49 am

    No one but two post dedicated to a shitty american tv series, justifying of the genocide of native americans and australians,apparently for the purpose of white knighting for a fictional evil female character…
    After reading this post i went and watched some clips of the game of thrones end on yt out of curiosity.
    Yes,if you burn an entire city full of people and exterminate them, someone might take issue with it and come after you to stop it or to take revenge, seems pretty reasonable to me,especially in a fantasy setting like that of game of thrones.

  3. Jack Donovan
    May 20, 2019 at 11:11 am

    “See.. you might have noticed that a particular ethno-religious group is rather well represented in the entertainment industry.”

    SEEG HAYLE–you are one of us !!!

    If those skin whitening treatments wrk half as good as they did for Michael Jackson, you can cum into the Wolves of Vineland bathhouse, no rubbers needed !!!

    BTW, I was rooting for team Cersei, she was the wickedest and mostest Hillary Clinton like of them all. As far as Jon Snowjob being sent back into the wilderness, well, it is like real life. Do you know how many Wolves of Vineland want to be Str8 guys butt they can’t find a woman, at least not a white one, even the real fat ones. SO they become nazi’s and have lots of neomasculine buttesex.

    BTW- a woman did win this one. Just not the woman you were routing for. The Stark woman was the winner because she is Queen of the North.

    So, uh, when can we expect ya at the bathhouse ????

  4. Yusef
    May 20, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    “The simple, if somewhat tasteless, answer is that all good stories are about fulfilling the wishes and desires of its audience while exhibiting reasonable internal consistency. That is why so many stories end with “they lived happily ever after”, “the good guys or girls won”, “good triumphs over evil” etc.”

    I’m interested in what makes a good story, and I gave your answer some consideration. I can’t entirely agree. On the one hand, I can think of great stories– the best, in my opinion– which force their audience to confront their worst fears, and end in the thwarting of all their wishes, desires, and fantasies. What came to mind were such stories as Oedipus Rex, Medea, Hamlet, and Macbeth, but the list could go on and on. Having exposed myself as preferring this kind of thing, I also had to consider if I revealed an elite or effete side. I don’t think so. For one thing these plays were popular “blockbusters” at the time of their “release” and have enjoyed much wider popularity over hundreds or thousands of years than you appear to allow.

    On the other hand, what you are describing as making a good story does make a good melodrama, and melodrama enjoys solid perennial popularity, and I myself enjoy some of it from time to time, just not as much, especially as you can get tired of that crap in a way you can’t with something enduring. Americans want melodrama so they shall have melodrama. If a good story is what entertains most Americans most of the time, you are quite correct. Melodrama in that sense is a good story.

  5. May 21, 2019 at 11:30 am

    David Benioff and Daniel Weiss can both join me in a dark alley where we suck dick for cash and feel our meth addiction.

    That’s my career move. Call me at 1-800-GOT-COCK.

    • (((They))) Live
      May 22, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      Could they be any worse than (((JJ Abrams)))

      And BTW why does (((Disney))) hate white people ?

  6. mikeCA
    May 22, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    If your objection to the ending is that a nerdy white guy became king rather than one of the strong women, I think you need to blame George R. R. Martin for that. He gave Benioff and Weiss this outline.

    I never cared about that show, which is why it wasn’t a topic of discussion on this blog till its last two episodes. The only reason I wrote about it was the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction to Season 8. The identity of the person who sits on that fictional throne is irrelevant to me, because I have no emotional involvement in that story. Having said that, it is clear that the post Nov-8-2016 Zeitgeist favored a woman sitting on it.

    I think seasons 7 and 8 were weaker because Benioff and Weiss only had the outline to work from and not all the dialogue and story telling that are in GRRM’s books.

    Upon reviewing a few older episodes, it appears that the rot started in Season 5 and was definitely evident by end of Season 6. Which makes sense since the books (which I haven’t read) stop at events shown in Season 5

  7. Jack Donovan
    May 22, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Looks like (((our))) arch nemesis didn’t like GoT either:

    We will have to endure future spinoffs of GoT including:

    Sansa the BarbAryan

    Aria the Columbus of Westeros

    Tyrion’s Nasty Sex Journal-Inside the Brothel (((AD’s favorite)))

    Jon Snow’s Dog

    Poop on the Deck: Yara get’s Her Greyjoy

    ooooh, how the white race has declined….

    we will hafa let you become an honorary aryan once that skin whitening stuff works….

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