Despite my best efforts, the audience for HBO's Game of Thrones continues to grow. Over the past two seasons, I've done my best to shame all responsible adults into rethinking their attachment to this faux-medieval malarkey, first here and then here. But to no avail. As season three begins this week, "Thronies" show no sign of relenting in their effort to further imperil an already moronic culture with even more toxic levels of regressive fantasizing.
I can only make one final attempt to convince Game of Thrones fans to cease and desist before it is too late. Below are actual case histories, gathered from regional press coverage and psychiatric journals, that demonstrate just what a terrible influence Game of Thrones is having on the culture at large. After reviewing these true accounts of the series' harmful impact on its viewers, it is my sincere hope that all people of taste and intelligence will stand together to wipe out the scourge of "fantasy"--in print, on film, on TV--once and for all. Thank you.
1. Roy Tolcheck (42) Tampa Bay, Florida
Co-workers first began to worry about Roy Tolcheck when he brought in the "diorama."
|Barbie's severed head.|
When HR manager Ken Bakerson asked Roy about the display, he explained that it depicted a key scene from his favorite TV show, HBO's Game of Thrones. "A place where they have honor," Roy added, "not like here at Terra Mock and Grovel."
Bakerson asked Tolcheck to remove the display by the end of the day and to also refrain from calling the company "Mock and Grovel."
"Roy took an early lunch," remembers Vallens, "and when he got back, everyone acted like nothing had happened. Still, we were concerned."
Two weeks later Roy brought in another diorama. "This time it was two Barbie dolls wearing only fur vests, really going to town on each other," remembers Vallens. "He had them on this chunk of foam rubber that he had cut and painted to look like a giant slab of rock, and there were these little maces and jousting javelins on the floor under them."
Bakerson was less patient during their second confrontation. "I told him to 'cut the shit.' You know this isn't appropriate in an office environment. What the hell is wrong with you?"
Tolcheck agreed to remove the offensive display immediately, but oddly, he first circulated through the office demanding that his co-workers stroke the little fur vests on the two Barbie dolls. "They were very soft and realistic," recalls data processor Gus Zeitman. "He seemed really proud of the craftsmanship."
In the days that followed, Bakerson began the necessary paper work for a formal reprimand and possible dismissal. But in the end there was no need. After Tolchek missed an entire week of work without notifying his employer, Bakerson called the police to check on their troubled employee.
They found Tolchek dead at the bottom of the staircase in his condo, his neck cut at the jugular vein.
"We thought for sure it was a suicide," said Detective Harry Coupland, the first investigator on the scene. "But in the end the coroner ruled it an accident."
"Mr. Tolcheck had apparently been running down the stairs in some homemade medieval pantaloons when he tripped and landed on his broadsword. He was knocked unconscious by the fall and bled out on the carpet."
Finding Tocheck's exsanguinated body was disturbing, certainly, but even this did not prepare authorities for the weird spectacle in Tolcheck's basement.
Authorities found nine small animal cages stacked in three rows of three against the back wall of the basement. At the top of the cages, Tolcheck had fashioned his own crude coat-of-arms cut from balsa wood with the motto Ludus Thronis ("Game of Thrones" in Latin) written in red magic-marker.
By the time authorities arrived, only two animals remained on Tolcheck's "Death Row." A corpulent raccoon dozed in a cage affixed with a note card reading, "Judged guilty for repeated and wanton mischief in the Kingdom's trash cans." Inside another cage was a shoebox, taped shut and punched with air holes. Inside the box was a small field mouse, condemned for "pillaging the Kingdom's last box of Devil Dogs."
"It was a pretty weird sight," Coupland recalls. "And then we found the tannery."
In the back of the basement, Tolcheck had been drying several cat and dog pelts--the apparent source of the realistic detail in his dioramas.
"In a way it's fortunate he stopped himself before we had to stop him," reflected the Detective. "Nut jobs like that almost always escalate to hunting and killing humans. I blame Game of Thrones."
Krissy Ronson (15) Yazoo City, Mississippi
Sitting in the shadows of her kitchen in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Angela Ronson is crying. Her daughter, Krissy, has been missing for three months, and with each passing day her return seems more and more unlikely.
"If we could go back in time, I'd make sure Krissy never saw a second of that goddamn show," sobs Mrs. Ronson. That "goddam show" is Games of Thrones, the HBO series Ronson blames for turning her impressionable daughter into a witch, perhaps even a thrall of Satan.
"My husband and I didn't really think it through when we let her watch the show with us. At first we couldn't even tell if she understood it, but by the second season some dark force had obviously come over her. It's all she talked about."
Krissy's love of Game of Thrones proved to be a gateway to an interest in magic, witchcraft, and other forms of mystical horseshit. On the night of Krissy's 13th birthday, the Ronsons found an old suitcase under Krissy's bed. "It was full of tarot cards and books on Wicca," remembers Mrs. Ronson. "Her father made her throw it all out--He wouldn't abide any devil stuff in the house."
But this only made Krissy pursue her occult interests in private. Through the fall of 2012, relations in the Ronson family became increasingly strained as Krissy worked to perfect her "white magic."
"I can conjure a unicorn," she announced one morning at breakfast. "After she left for school, her father and I just sat down and cried for an hour," Mrs. Ronson remembers.
|Mr. Ronson's photo of the backyard pentagram.|
What the Ronsons saw was a pentagram burning in their grass. In the middle, mysteriously untouched by the flames, was Krissy's backpack-- still full of her magic books and witchy totems.
But Krissy was nowhere to be seen. She has not been seen since.
Mr. Ronson believes he knows where she is. "She's with Lucifer now, the dark Lord. And we'll never see her again...all because of that stupid TV show where everyone talks in old-timey English about bullshit that never happened anyway."
A broken man, Mr. Ronson pauses beneath the tree where Krissy disappeared. "We should have made her watch Mad Men instead. Worst thing there she's giving hand jobs to strangers at the movie theater...but at least she'd still be alive."
In the kitchen, Angela Ronson bursts into tears once more.
Colby Gunderson (22) Kenosha, Wisconsin
The "summer of thrones" had been magical for Colby and his new girlfriend Chelsea, at least for the first few weeks.
They met on Memorial Day at Six Flags Great America, both standing in line to buy cotton candy for their little sisters. Five hours later, at closing time, Chelsea invited Colby to drive up to her parent's house in Peewaukee that weekend to start watching Game of Thrones.
Chelsea loved Game of Thrones and knew Colby would love it too. The plan was to watch two episodes each Saturday until they were both ready for the third season in 2013. They decided 8pm Saturday would be their standing Thrones "date night," enough time for Chelsea to freshen up after her shift at the Waukesha Taco Bell and for Colby to drive up from his auto-detailing job in Kenosha.
|Inadvertently soaked in motor oil.|
By the beginning of August, however, Colby sensed something was wrong. Chelsea seemed distant, almost embarrassed to have Colby showing up on her doorstep each Saturday night. Colby sensed it was because Chelsea was already thinking of the fall when she'd return to the UW-Green Bay for her sophomore year.
"Gotta do something big," Chuck told him one night, flushing out an engine block in the Gunderson back yard. "College girl like that. Soon as she's back up in Green Bay, she'll dump you for sure unless you do something real big. Got to give her a reason to remember you."
Driving back to Kenosha after a particularly awkward Thrones double-feature, Colby had an epiphany.
He would give her a dragon.
Colby's first attempt at a dragon was a complete disaster. Taking his own good idea a little too literally, he had convinced himself that an iguana might provide a suitable foundation for the mythical flying lizard. With a little latex and paint, he reasoned, he could fashion some fairly convincing dragon wings. But a trip to the Pet World in nearby Gurnee Mills put an end to that plan.
"Iguanas are like two hundred bucks," Colby recalls.
|The Gecko: a cheaper lizard than the Iguana.|
"They were pretty good. I made a frame and a little harness out of pipe cleaners and then stretched some green latex over them. The little bastard could wriggle out of it in a couple minutes, but for a little while he really looked like a dragon--and that's all I needed."
Saturday, August 11: Colby is on the Interstate heading to Peewaukee, his "dragon" in a small cigar box on the passenger seat. But tragedy strikes when he stops at a Shell station on the south side of Milwaukee.
"I left a Gatorade bottle on top of the box, but I guess he found a way out while I was pumping gas. When I came back from the cashier, I saw him darting across the concrete and into the weeds."
Inside the car, only the bent pipe-cleaners remained.
"I felt bummed for the little guy. I remember thinking if somebody didn't find him quick, there's no way he was going to make it through the winter."
That night's Throne date was even worse than the week before. Not only did Chelsea seem distant, she also started taking about "Ryan."
Colby remembers the evening bitterly. "Ryan was some dude in her graphic design class. Suddenly she's telling me how talented Ryan is, and how funny Ryan is, and on and on. Like I need to drive ninety minutes round trip to hear how fucking great this Ryan asshole is."
Colby knew he only had one chance left.
|Colby in costume, just before driving to Waukesha|
The plan: Colby, dressed as a dragon, would surprise Chelsea at the end of her shift at Taco Bell.
After making sure Chelsea was working the drive-thru window, Chuck and Colby would drive up to the menu. As Chuck placed a fake order, Colby would get out of the car and prepare his costume.
"I didn't really have time to make a special dragon suit," remembers Colby. "So I just rented this Godzilla Halloween costume instead."
Saturday, August 18, 2012: The plan is proceeding perfectly. With the decoy Nachos Belle Grande ordered, Colby exits from the passenger side and makes his way to the drive-thru window.
He stops briefly to prepare a final detail. Inside his dragon head is a small section of quarter-inch PVC piping. Colby inserts a dollop of paraffin into the pipe opening and flicks his lighter.
This dragon will breathe fire.
But something goes wrong, horribly wrong.
"I meant to shoot the fire from my mouth before Chelsea opened the window," Colby recalls. "But for some reason it took a while to ignite. So just when Chelsea swings the window open, whoosh!"
Luckily, the flames miss Chelsea. Colby also remains uninjured from the mishap.
But the errant flame arcs across the kitchen and ignites a leaky pilot light on one of the Taco Bell stoves. Soon a nearby closet used to store paper napkins and burrito wrappers is engulfed in flames. Patrons flee as the building becomes a raging conflagration.
Three months later, Colby and his brother Chuck sit in their back yard nursing a couple of beers.
"At least no one got hurt," Colby says, his head hung low. "But the Taco Bell was a total loss. And I'm getting sued by Pepsico, so there's that."
"I told you not to blow through the tube so hard," his brother adds.
"Go fuck yourself, Chuck," says Colby.
"'Summer of thrones,'" he adds, almost in a whisper. "I am such an idiot."
|August 18, 2012: The Waukesha Taco Bell burns to the ground, ignited by a man pretending to be a dragon.|