More than half a million fans are demanding that HBO “remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers,” just days before the season — and series — finale. While the online petition has rapidly racked up signatures since it went viral just one day ago, the number represents a small fraction of Game of Thrones’ immense fan base. But what it does provide is a stark glimpse at just how fierce the larger fandom-wide backlash over this season has grown.
A Game of Thrones fan created the petition on Change.org a week ago, on May 9 — several days before the cataclysmically divisive, penultimate episode of the series, “The Bells,” aired on May 12. But the petition didn’t pick up traction until it garnered media attention on May 15. At that point, it was gaining steam and had almost reached an earlier target of 15,000 signatures. As of this writing, on May 16, that number has leaped to nearly 500,000 signatures.
The rate of signatures seems to be slowing, and Change.org petitions are typically performative and rarely actionable. It’s also hardly a significant number next to the average viewership of Game of Thrones, which has typically drawn around 17 million viewers per episode so far this season. But the fact that so many people are angry enough to ask for a complete do-over indicates that the fandom’s overall level of discontent is very high indeed.
Throughout the season, fans and critics have admonished Game of Thrones’ showrunners for everything from poor character development to bad pacing and rushed storylines, and for production issues ranging from dark lighting to wayward coffee cups. “The Bells,” however, helped crystallize much of this fomenting dissatisfaction around a hugely polarizing twist in which Daenerys Targaryen effectively morphed into the villain of the series, after a full eight seasons of being presented as an unconventional savior and heroic figure — even a feminist one.
“Justice for [Daenerys’s] character assassination and the characters’ poorly rushed story arcs,” exclaimed one of the petition’s signatories.
“It’s the fact Season 8 was rushed with so few eps,” wrote another. “[E]verything just felt so sudden and fast with no build up! It was just Bang Boom White Walkers beat, Bang Boom suddenly Danny is the Mad Queen!”
The request for a do-over may seem entitled at a glance, but perhaps it’s not that unreasonable, especially considering that we’re living in an age when superhero franchises reboot themselves every few years or so. Rebooting or releasing a new adaptation also happens often with anime, especially if the manga a show is based on goes somewhere different than its initial anime did. It’s very plausible that this scenario could come to pass if George R.R. Martin ever finishes the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series on which Game of Thrones is based, considering how much time the author has taken to release each installment thus far. So the idea of a remake that attempts to capture some of the threads and characters that the show omitted isn’t entirely out of left field.
But even if HBO were to reboot the series, there’s a good chance fans would take issue with the new vision of the series, too. That’s because at this point, Game of Thrones fandom is a fractured fan base, not a united one. Viewers include die-hard book fans who’ve been in the fandom for more than 15 years at this point. There are also Targaryen loyalists who have built their fandom around the idea of Daenerys as a feminist queen. There’s a whole subculture of fans who still want Stannis Baratheon to be king (seriously).
Some people are mainly watching because they’re invested in certain ships; and then there are casual fans who don’t have any deeper attachments but want to see their favorite characters get happy endings. There are hardcore show fans who refuse to go anywhere near the books or spoilers, and hardcore book fans who obsess over the differences between the show and the novels. Entire forums have been devoted over the years to tracking down, discussing, and analyzing spoilers from upcoming seasons and individual episodes, to the extent that Game of Thrones spoilers practically have their own sub-fandom.
In essence, whenever you have a fandom this big, the culture of that fandom will be divergent and multifaceted. Game of Thrones fandom is, in essence, like a microcosm of the internet at this point — something as far from a monolith as civilization itself.
So while it can be fun to watch the petition’s number of signatures go up, it’s worth remembering that Game of Thrones fans don’t exactly have a unified vision of how their beloved show should end. What is clear, however, is that while fans may not all be mad about the same things, many of them are definitely mad. After eight seasons, Game of Thrones is going out in a blaze — but maybe not of glory.
Alexa Chung ELLE Cover Star March 2012
Lil Nas X and Wrangler’s “Old Town Road” clothing line inspires country music fan backlash
“Old Town Road” star Lil Nas X’s latest move is into fashion, courtesy of a collaboration with Wrangler, the legacy denim and apparel brand that’s become a signature element of the Western aesthetic.
The chart-topping rapper has partnered with the company to launch a capsule clothing collection inspired by his hit song and featuring graphic T-shirts, jeans, and other denim apparel. The collaboration is essentially an extension of one of the most memorable lyrics in “Old Town Road,” which shouts out Wrangler by name: “Cowboy hat from Gucci / Wrangler on my booty.”
Wrangler describes the capsule collection, which launched May 20, as “fresh remixes of classic Wrangler styles for the kind of modern cowboy that can’t be put in a box.”
That’s a cheeky reference to “Old Town Road” itself, which sparked an intense debate over whether the song counts as country music when it debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in March, and was subsequently removed. Despite its references to established Western themes and imagery — the song’s lyrics revolve around a lone cowboy riding his horse into the sunset, after all — Billboard said the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Some country music fans and industry observers agreed, arguing that “Old Town Road” qualifies more as hip-hop than country. Others criticized Billboard for feeding rigid ideas about who or what qualifies as country enough, and suggested that Lil Nas X’s race played a part in the song’s reclassification; the fact that Lil Nas X is a black teenager from Atlanta and country is a predominantly white genre did not go unnoticed.
The song quickly became the catalyst for an industry-wide discussion about the definition of country music and racially tinged gatekeeping within the genre. It also became the top song in the country, and has now been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks straight.
Just like the song itself riled some country music fans amid an outpouring of support for Lil Nas X from his own expansive fanbase, the rapper’s collaboration with Wrangler has met with a polarized response.
The Lil Nas X capsule collection is clearly intended to celebrate and capitalize on the success of “Old Town Road.” Although many Lil Nas X fans have expressed interest in buying the collection, Wrangler is also facing criticism from some consumers, many of whom are threatening to boycott.
Much of the backlash is playing out on social media, where Wrangler has received thousands of comments from customers expressing anger and “disappointment.” (It is unclear if customers have also been contacting the company via other, less public methods; Vox has reached out to Wrangler for comment.) And much of the current conversation revolves around how Wrangler seems to be promoting inclusivity by branching out from its reputation as a brand worn by cowboys and farmers.
Two recent Instagram posts from Wrangler showcasing items from its Lil Nas X collection have received more than 1,000 comments each. While plenty of people have commented on how awesome it looks or asking questions about where to buy, several have declared that the “Old Town Road” items are “ruining the cowboy name that y’all have.”
“Wranglers are to be worn by cowboys and farmers not rappers this is very disappointing,” reads one representative Instagram comment.
Some commenters have more explicitly mentioned race — or called out others’ racism.
“This is the dumbest thing i have seen all day,” one user wrote. “Wtf @wrangler? Why is it about diversity and equality ? There jeans. Quit playin politics.”
WRANGLER JUST PARTNERED WITH LIL NAS X AND THE RACIST ARE MAD GO BUY UP ALL THE WRANGLER LIL NAS X COLLAB JEANS YOU CAN PEOPLE SUPPORT DIVERSITY pic.twitter.com/gwH2G7dULj
— tyler (@tylerujhazy) May 21, 2019
Lil Nas X, for his part, seemed mildly surprised by the response.
i mean honestly white people act like they are the only ones who are cowboys. come to my town in louisiana, we pull up to mcdonalds on horses and have rodeos every weekend.
— Blair Waldorf (@teonnyspears) May 21, 2019
These comments are in the same vein as those used by some country music fans to describe “Old Town Road” when the song made its chart debut, arguing that rappers have no place in the genre (often while neglecting to acknowledge modern country’s own hip-hop influences). Lingering over this debate is race, which many Instagram users have called out in the comments on Wrangler’s posts. Country music is perceived as an insular, predominantly white genre, while Lil Nas X is a black rapper who draws influences from black artists and musical styles.
But Wrangler’s continued support of Lil Nas X is clear; the brand has been actively responding to its detractors on social media, simply repeating on that is devoted to creating high-quality products for all of its customers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the drama over the Lil Nas X collection has only served to draw more attention to it. Some pieces have already sold out, like a pair of shorts that say “Wrangler” on the booty, in keeping with the lyrics of “Old Town Road.” Considering that items in the collection cost between $39 for a graphic T-shirt and $129 for a pair of jeans, the outcry, at least from Wrangler’s perspective, seems to have paid off.
20 Times People Snapped Something Truly Exceptional and Shared the Pics With the World
We are living in the world that is full of surprises where every single day is a new chance to see something so unusual that it makes you doubt your own vision. A treble clef in a bag of fries, a cat whose fur went gray only on his ears, or a person with 6 fingers — these are just a few extraordinary sights that made people reach for their phones and take a pic.
Here at Bright Side we can’t wait to share our list with you of pics showing the standout things people snapped on their ordinary days.
20. Someone found a treble clef in their fries.
19. The pattern on this dog’s chest resembles a cat’s silhouette.
18. Someone saw a landscape on the bottom of their coffee mug.
17. This stone looks like a pile of mini chocolate bars.
16. This cloud looks like a shark.
15. “This stick I found looks like a burning torch, flame included!”
14. “My sweater sort of matches my pillowcase.”
13. “This truck is carrying nothing but a toy dump truck.”
12. “My empanadas have the filling stamped into them.”
11. “I randomly found the tiniest snail I’ve ever seen! (standard bobby pin for scale)”
10. “My cat has double fangs on both sides.”
9. “This tree near my school track has absorbed a fence and shows the pattern on its bark.”
8. “This is an X-ray of my hedgehog.”
7. “My 12-year-old sister made this perfect cake on her first ever try making one.”
6. “I won every single prize on this lottery ticket.”
5. “I made a giant cardboard statue of my face.”
4. “My cousin’s wedding dress from last night has its own pockets.”
3. This is one million dollars in $10 bills.
2. “A customer came in and let me take a picture of her hands that had 6 fingers on each.”
1. “My aunt’s cat’s ears grayed to here a couple years ago and haven’t changed since.”
Have you ever spotted something truly rare? Did you manage to take a picture of the unusual sight?
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