The hype around bizarre fan theories

David Kelly

With the final season of Game of Thrones on its way, the internet has been rife with speculation regarding its ending. 

A new theory concerning Cersei of house Lannister has been making the rounds in the media, with many calling it convincing.

This theory is essentially this: Cersei Lannister will sacrifice her new-born child to the Night King in order to save Westeros. The White Walkers do accept babies as sacrifices. Would a royal sacrificial offering prevent another Long Night?

The answer: almost certainly not.

Despite being based on pretty poor analysis of both the character and the plot, this theory made internet headlines on major news publications. Numerous outlets called it convincing and loaded the theory with credibility in what could be described as a positive feedback loop.

Fan theories tend to propagate themselves. One media publication will pick it up, then another, causing this snowball effect where the fan theory, regardless of its credibility, will gain immense traction and enjoy vast circulation in the arts media space.

This may be due to the click value of such articles, or the sheer ease it takes to write such a story. Most franchises are subject to fan theories, particularly those in the superhero and fantasy genres. People enjoy speculating about art that they enjoy.

It’s a shame that the media doesn’t devote more time to debunking such theories, rather than milking them for clickbait. It’s much more interesting to think these propositions through and look at their flaws, rather than pumping them out to the public.

For instance, take the Cersei Lannister example. Cersei’s defining characteristic is her love for her children. It’s her one redeeming quality. The show has continually broken her down by taking away what she holds dearest.

Cersei lost her children and consequently grew worse. Her appearance transformed from motherly lady to masculine tyrant. Now, her sole motivation is the survival of her remaining family.

This created a schism between her and her twin brother Jaime. Season seven ended with Jamie abandoning his lover for the sake of his honour, with Cersei declaring that her unborn child can replace him, if necessary.

All Cersei has left is her unborn child. Furthermore, she has shown no inclination for saving the world from the dead, rather the opposite. It is simply not in her character to sacrifice her final source of love for the world she hates

A more likely ending to Cersei’s story is her death at the hands of her brother. There are many hints in the books that Cersei and Jamie will leave the world the way they entered it; together. Jaime killing his malevolent half would be a compelling end to his arc.

While this fan theory is superficially interesting, it does not stand up to scrutiny and makes no sense when placed in the context of the characters and story. Undoubtedly, Cersei will receive a compelling conclusion, just not the one offered by this theory

That’s not to say that no fan theory has credibility. A longstanding Game of Thrones theory that was proven right was one regarding Jon Snow’s mother. This was known as “R+L=J” and was first published in 1997. It was eventually confirmed 20 years later in the show’s seventh season.

Fan theories tend to be hit or miss, though usually the latter. The problem arrives when the media becomes oversaturated with terrible theories. When most theories are poor, all theories lose credibility. A journalist role is to determine the truth of something, perhaps that should apply to arts journalists too?

David Kelly

Image Credit: Bustle