The power that is Game of Thrones
Never in the history of TV has a single series enthralled the whole world like the Game of Thrones and ingrained itself so much in our daily lives, writes Somaya Stockenstroom.
The epic series Game Of Thrones must be the biggest show since TV became a thing.
On social media, every second person is talking about it.
HBO, the US's premium cable and satellite TV network, reports that season eight attracted 17.4-million viewers in New York alone, while the Daily Mail reports that global viewership was close to a billion. There were about five million tweets - a new record. Australia set a law in motion that anyone caught pirating the series would be jailed. About 30% of them downloaded it illegally.
Locally, die-hard fans woke up at 3am to watch the first episode of season eight as it premiered in the US.
The screening was a collaboration between Diageo SA, M-Net and Nu Metro.
Thembeka Mgobozi, from Capacity Relations PR, says it was planned and executed by Johnnie Walker, M-Net and Nu Metro and screened at the Pavillion, Canal Walk and Hyde Park. Nenzou says SA needed to ensure that they are riding this current wave.
"Game of Thrones is a massive TV series that has a huge following worldwide and we wanted to tap into this audience. We had a crowd of over 350 people nationally attending all three cinemas. We were quite surprised by the large number of people that actually woke up to watch the series launch at 3am," says Mgobozi.
Guests showed up dressed as their favourite characters.
Influences on our everyday lives
Mead, said to be an ancient alcoholic older than the wine of Jesus, is rising in popularity due to Game Of thrones.
Said to be the drink of vikings made from fermented honey, it's especially popular among England viewers.
But interestingly, Mead is an important drink in SA heritage, said to be made by SA's first inhabitants.
It's similar to wine and can be found abundantly in towns like Grahamstown and Franschhoek.
However, if you're a die-hard local fan, the drink to have is probably Johnnie White Walker, launched in SA last week.
Thembeka Mgobozi, Innovation Project Manager at Diageo, who are distributors of the brand, says because "Winter is coming" it's the perfect pairing to warm up.
"We are hoping to shift focus on whisky being an 'old man's drink' and being a drink that is relevant across various boards of culture. Our inspiration was the undead army of White Walkers that emerged from the Frozen North, bringing with them the chill of winter. The drink features notes of caramelised sugar and vanilla, fresh red berries with a touch of orchard fruit and is best served from the freezer. It develops complexity as it warms to room temperature. The packaging evokes a winter setting with icy white and blue colouring inspired by the White Walkers."
She states the collaboration has been the biggest and most successful innovation in their history.
The limited edition trades for R399 and who knows what it will be worth in the next few years to collectors.
"Limited volumes have been produced. Once depleted the stock will no longer be available. Only 3728 cases will be available in SA and expected to run out by end August."
KFC in Hong Kong jumped on the wagon by releasing an advert of their spicy fried chicken in the guise of dragon flames, while Donald Trump uses Game Of Thrones memes to promote himself.
In one image, Trump stands in fog, claiming "No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats - game over" using the show's typeface. HBO have expressed their disdain and complained against the American president sighting copyright issues.
And the popular grey hair trend is not because everyone wants to look old.
Arion Pereira De Figueiredo, a South African hairstylist, says almost every girl, black or white, wants a white mane as seen on the show's heroine.
"Khaleesi can proudly be credited as being the inspiration. And it's quite a process to get the hair to that shade and not everyone wears the trend well. But it's about fashion, I guess," he says.
He also notes the various braided styles we see on our streets that speaks of ancient kings and queens.
Luxury international menswear designer, John Varvatos, was also the first designer the show collaborated with this year. Being a huge fan, he released a capsule of eleven pieces hanging from distressed outerwear to printed t-shirts.
Paledi Segapo of Palse Homme says locally many designers like himself have also been inspired by the capes.
From the mouths of fans
Nolwazi Lusengo from Durban has never missed an episode since it first aired in 2011.
The 37-year-old says she roped in all her pals to binge watch the series in order to catch up. She breaks down what the fuss is all about.
"I was never into fantasy, but strangely I was drawn to this epic series which is made of sword fights, lots and lots of sex - some incestous relationships as well - and the politics very much like the real world. I watched the first episode and the next and got hooked on it," she says.
She jokes that hunky Jason Momoa, who featured as Khal Drogo, is one of the main reasons she was glued to the show.
"Pity he died so early in the series."
Lusengo says much like herself, a true fan watches to escape reality. She also loves the once virginal blonde Daenerys or Khaleesi played by Emilia Clarke, who spells female power.
"She is the paternal aunt of Jon Snow. Even they have an incestuous relationship," she laughs.
Ntombi Zokwana from Centurion in Gauteng, says she was too young in 2011 to understand the dynamics of the show and started season one back in 2016.
"I binge watched season 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for two weeks straight so I could be in time for the release of season six which came out in April that year."
Zokwana says she also likes the suspense filled story line. "It's an era I think I would have enjoyed being in myself."
She explains that season eight is the last of the series.
"I don't feel happy that it's all ending. Game of Thrones is a lifestyle, ...when the last episode airs in May, I feel like it will be both the best and worst day of my life."