The Stark Knight Rises

Pop Culture

The Stark Knight Rises

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré

he just-concluded sixth season of the popular fantasy epic Game of Thrones has left me with an empty late night Sunday slot to fill with some very confused ideas about who exactly our heroes and villains are.

I thought it was a fairly cut and dried thing: The hero is the guy who does the good, honorable thing and the villain is the guy who does pretty much anything – evil or otherwise – that he feels like doing. And then Sansa Stark feeds a prisoner to a pack of fierce dogs, Ned Stark wins a duel after his opponent is stabbed in the back and Tyrion rationalises the continuation of slavery while working for a queen called “The Breaker of Chains”. Watching on, like the rest of the world, every Sunday/Monday, I found myself questioning why exactly I was cheering for these characters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like my heroes with a strong streak of heroism. I’m not sure I like being served protagonists who buck the trend of upstanding behaviour. You may accuse me of being out-of-touch (you certainly won’t be the first), but I think it’s important that the heroes of our most popular stories convey a clear message about what’s right and what’s wrong.