- 16 Dec 19
The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones left many unsatisfied but the show's impact on culture lives on...
If there's one thing wily folks in the North know about, it's how to repackage a tragedy for commercial purposes. Ask anyone who's ever been on a black taxi tour around west Belfast, with some gruff-looking guide with a tenuous link to a paramilitary telling stories about the Troubles. Ask the millions of people who've passed through the doors of the Titanic museum.
So Tourism NI no doubt relished the challenge when the last season of Game of Thrones turned out to be - more or less, let's be honest - a bit of a damp squib. Sure, there were spectacular battle scenes, gut-wrenching twists and character pay-offs, but Season 8 of the most popular show of all-time was stripped almost entirely of the nuances and underhand scheming which kept people theorising for years. Characters were bludgeoned into bizarre plotlines, all for the sake of reaching a conclusion that was so twee and hurriedly wrapped up that you watched the credits roll thinking, 'Was that... it?'
Maybe you disagree. But for those who do, think about how much cultural impact the show has really had seven months on from its finale. From lighting up forum after forum for years, and with major players in world politics finding themselves compared to all manner of Lannisters, Targaryens and Starks, the show ended in such a way that it seemed to deaden all discussion. From being the most exotic-smelling perfume in the room, it went out like a bad fart whose lingering odour no one wanted to draw attention to.
Prequels are in the works, which means George R.R. Martin's ideas will continue to be the bedrock of the Northern Irish tourism economy for years to come. And if it continues to spur people to take a trip to explore some of the spectacular landscapes of the North, that's no bad thing.
You can read the complete 'Whole Hog On 2019' in one brilliant sweep in the Hot Press Annual – in which we distill the highlights and low-points of the year, across 132 vital, beautifully designed pages. Starring heroes of the year Fontaines D.C. on the front we cover Music, Culture, Sport, Film, Politics, the Environment and much, much more. Buy this superb publication direct from Hot Press here.