Game Of Thrones Creator Thinks Star Wars Does One Thing Terribly

Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin has some thoughts about Star Wars and they are not exactly positive.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin created one of the modern classics of fantasy literature with his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which was then exposed to an unimaginably wide audience when its HBO adaptation became a cultural talking point. Arguably, that put him in the very select echelon of living people (sorry, Gene Roddenberry) who can truly criticize the Star Wars franchise from the perspective of someone who has built something remotely comparable. And according to the Game of Thrones creator, Star Wars is really bad at how they kill people

More specifically, George R.R. Martin thinks that death is treated too casually in the Star Wars universe. According to a recent interview with The Independent, the Game of Thrones writer believes that death has become trivialized in media and that it does not have the emotional impact that real-life tragedy should. This might seem a little hypocritical, considering that Game of Thrones is particularly known for its savage and ruthless treatment of its characters, many of whom die in horrible, drawn-out ways. But what Martin actually means is that he believes that if you are going to portray death in a sorry, it should be meaningful, which is why he tries to maximize its impact. This is what he says about Star Wars, on the other hand: 

Star Wars kills more characters than I do!. In the very first Star Wars movie they blow up the entire planet of Alderaan, which has, like, 20 billion people on it, and they’re all dead. But you know what? Nobody cares. Everybody on Alderaan is dead. Oh, OK. But we don’t know the people on Alderaan. We don’t feel their deaths. It’s just a statistic. If you’re going to write about death, you should feel it.

It is hard to argue with the Game of Thrones writer on that one. The destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope does pass rather bloodlessly (given that it is via planetary destruction rather than being repeatedly stabbed in the stomach) and it does seem like its greatest immediate effect is an old man having a headache. He goes on to describe the effect he felt the infamous “Red Wedding” of Game of Thrones had on viewers:

It’s a horrible chapter, and it upsets people. It makes people angry, it makes people sad. People throw the book against the wall or into the fireplace. When it was on TV, it had the same effect on tens of thousands, if not millions, of people. To my mind, that’s good. We’re talking about death here!

Again, difficult to argue. That particular scene is one of the Game of Thrones sequences that most drew a line in the sand with audiences to determine whether they could bear the kind of brutality of death and treachery as depicted on screen. By that measure, Game of Thrones does place more weight on death than Star Wars. 

On the other hand, it can be argued that Game of Thrones and Star Wars have very different intentions in their storytelling. The latter is commonly described as a space opera, a genre that is purposely melodramatic and favors ideas of chivalric romance over realism. On the other hand, Game of Thrones was written in response to the ideas of chivalry in fantasy and deconstructing them with the general assumption that human nature is essentially violent and power-hungry. So, really, trying for different things here, George R.R. Martin. 

It also could be posited that the entire point of entertainment (even that which contains death, which is pretty much all of them) is not to mirror the trauma of life precisely, but to provide either escape or perspective on it. At the end of the day, Game of Thrones does what it does and likewise for Star Wars. But you do you, George R.R. Martin.