The creator of the notorious Game of Thrones petition calling on HBO to remake the show’s eighth and final season only learned of its success (more than 1.2 million have signed) on Thursday, days after it went viral.
HBO’s high fantasy series Game of Thrones has for years been a juggernaut, giving the network some of its highest ratings ever. But the show’s final episodes have drawn the ire of fans and some critics who say the writing has been sloppy and plot points were unearned.
After offhandedly making the petition more than a week ago as a way to vent, Dylan (he declined to give his full name to Forbes), a 30-year-old analyst for a health system in Fort Worth, Texas, hadn’t given it a second thought. That is, until a coworker approached him after work.
“Hey, is this you?” the coworker said.
And that’s how he learned his Change.org petition had blown up. After learning of his newfound internet fame, he provided an online update, where he told the world that no one from HBO has approached him. He doesn’t reasonably expect HBO to remake anything, he said, but he wants to send a message: he’s disappointed.
In an email exchange with Forbes, here is what Dylan had to say about the petition. Warning: This contains spoilers.
What exactly prompted you to start the petition? You said it was a few days after Episode 4. What in particular were you disappointed by, both in that episode and the next one?
Really it was a combination of Episode 3 and 4’s failures that brought me to the point of writing the petition. There were many, many qualms I had with the episodes, but I’ll mention a couple. The Battle of Winterfell was a strategic disgrace. I mentioned in my long update that the show suffered from “everyone is stupid” syndrome. I’m sure there is a better term for it, but when the plot is intense and dramatic simply because every character involved is an idiot, that is not great writing. You had some of the wisest, most experienced individuals in Westeros all in one room, and THAT was the defense strategy? As for Episode 4 I had many lamentations, but the specific one that made me facepalm the hardest was how Rhaegal died. Easily one of the cheapest deaths of the whole series. I could probably go on for a long time about it, but that’ll do for now.
Have you started other Change.org petitions before?
I have not. I understand that they are normally for more social and humanitarian issues, but maybe this whole thing has drawn more people to the site that can browse these other petitions.
What do you make of the overwhelming response this petition has gotten? And some of the backlash about “entitled fans” and whatnot.
Well in my long update I talked about how I started it and how surprised I was by the response when I checked back in after a week. I was mostly just chuckling at it, taking it lightly, then I learned my parents had contacted news institutions and reporters and I was taken aback. This petition isn’t about me. Any passionate nerd could have written it. Heck I clearly put like the minimum effort into the original post! I have seen a few things calling out the petition and its signers as a whole, but nothing yet that calls me out directly. I guess if we’re entitled, we’re entitled together. I hoped to clear some things up in my update post, but I may have taken too long to put some clarifying words out there.
Did your parents reach out to reporters after you found out the petition had been doing well? Are they fans of the show as well? (Author’s note: I asked this question in a follow up email).
Yeah I had called them on my way home from work after I found out myself, just to say, “Hey check this out, neat huh?” They were notably more excited than I was about the “internet fame” and started reaching out to reporters on their own. I wasn’t terribly thrilled about it, but they were excited for me. Yes, I got my parents into the show maybe around season 5 or so…can’t remember when, but I introduced everyone in my immediate family to the show.
Has your life changed at all since the petition blew up?
Well since I only learned of its success [Thursday] after work, the only life impact I have experienced so far is a lack of sleep for one night. I think I was too pumped to sleep well last night! I would imagine that after the finale the petition will garner more attention, but we’ll see.
What do you hope to get out of the petition now? I know you said you don’t expect HBO to actually remake Season 8 and that no one from HBO has been in contact with you.
That’s the question isn’t it? Sometimes acknowledgement of the outcry is enough, and decisions are made behind the scenes to adjust for such backlash. I am also one of the somewhat disgruntled Star Wars fans as well – relatively unhappy with the writing of the new trilogy – so seeing D&D (D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) lose their Star Wars contracts might be interesting. I have seen people call for that. I just don’t know why they should be rewarded with another beloved story after what we saw from the end of Thrones, but who knows? If we get a Star Warstrilogy from them that’s as good as the first few seasons of Thrones, I might be eating my words.
Do you still think Game of Thrones is one of the greatest TV shows of all time?
Absolutely. It is a universal cultural phenomenon. I heard someone once say something along the lines of, “This show shouldn’t even exist. It’s this crazy, convoluted fantasy epic with dragons and zombies and castles and political drama. We should be happy it was brought to us.” That’s some huge paraphrasing, but I do agree with the sentiment. In my long update, I say that D&D deserve praise for their adaptation of the books during the first several seasons of the show. Obviously the praise stops short towards the end of the rushed series.
-Rachel Sandler; Forbes Staff
The Art Of Survival: The Art Of Adire Gave This Textile Artist Global Fame, She Now Educates Generations Of Women In Nigeria
Textile artist Nike Davies-Okundaye worked as a construction laborer and carried water and firewood to survive. The art of adire gave her global fame and she is now educating generations of women in Nigeria.
There was no way Nike Davies-Okundaye could look the other way. For after all, she too had been a victim in her early teens.
Too many women were being pushed down the traditional path of marriage and child-rearing in her country.
Born in 1951 in Ogidi-Ijumu, a small village in western Nigeria known for its spectacular rock formations and traditional art industry, Davies-Okundaye resolved to fight this practice four decades ago.
“By the age of 13, they wanted to marry me off because my father had no money. I had to run away from home and join a traveling theater. I said I didn’t want to marry and wanted to pursue art,” recalls the internationally-renowned Lagos-based artist.
Not wanting to become one of six wives to a minister, Davies-Okundaye found her escape through adire, the name given to the Yoruba craft of tie-and-dye where indigo-dyed cloth is made using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques. Growing up in a predominantly art and craft household, Davies-Okundaye is a fifth-generation artist who decided to take the craft seriously due to poverty.
“I had no money to go to school and the first education parents give you is to teach you what they do. So, when I finished primary six and I had no support to go to secondary school, I said to myself, ‘let me master art so I can teach other women to also use their hand to make a living through their own artwork’.”
Davies-Okundaye was forced to work in the male-dominated construction sector, carrying concrete in pans to builders in order to save one shilling, just enough to buy a yard of fabric to create what she called wall-hanging art.
Her goal was to use the traditional wax-resist methods to design patterned fabric in a dazzling array of tints and hues. The adire design is the result of hand-painted work carried out mostly by women and through that, Davies-Okundaye saw a way to help women to become economically empowered. After all, her first break in life came as a result of that.
“There was no other job I was doing apart from adire. I was lucky the American government came to Nigeria to recruit an African who will teach African Americans how to make traditional textiles or crafts in the state. That is how I was lucky and got picked.”
Davies-Okundaye was the only woman in a class of 10 men who were flown to Maine in northeastern United States in 1974. That is where her whole outlook on life changed.
“Before I went to America, I used to carry three drums of water every day and carry firewood to be able to survive. It was like a breakthrough in my life when I reached America. I said ‘is this heaven?’ I was the only woman in the class and all the men were learning women’s looms and I kept telling them ‘this is for women’ and they said ‘yes, in America, what a man can do, a woman can also do’.”
This was in stark contrast to what she knew to be true in Nigeria at the time.
“If your husband is an artist, you are not allowed to do art. In the 1960s, if your husband has a PhD, you are not allowed to also have a PhD. You had to give room for your husband to be your boss.”
She decided to beat those age-old stereotypes.
As one of 15 wives to her then-husband at the time, Davies-Okundaye, with her newfound knowledge gained in America, started a revolution at home. She encouraged the other wives to create their own art business using adire.
“I said ‘if you learn this, you can earn a living by yourself and get your power because your money is your power’ and that is how they also started learning it. I didn’t stop sharing the knowledge there. I gathered girls on the streets who were selling kola nuts and peanuts and started training them. I said ‘if this textile can take me to America, let me teach other people’,” says Davies-Okundaye.
And that has been her calling ever since. Davies-Okundaye is the founder and director of four art centers, which offer free training to 150 young artists in Nigeria in visual, musical and performing arts.
One of the centers is the largest art gallery in West Africa comprising over 7,000 art works.
“They used to get the police to arrest me because they said I was trying to teach feminism in Nigeria because I went to America. They said I was going to corrupt our Nigerian women but I believe God sent me to liberate a lot of women who have the passion for what makes them happy but are afraid to do it because of what people will say. I say do what makes you happy always!”
Why This Photographer Looked Up During The Lockdown
Steven Benjamin chose to focus on the bird life in his garden in Cape Town to escape the confines of the lockdown.
During South Africa’s five-week shutdown (the country is still on Level 4 restrictions), Cape Town-born underwater photographer Steven Benjamin more used to sharks, whales and dolphins, used the period to look up instead – and indulge in bird-watching, another passion of his.
“Ever since the age of five or six, I have been interested in birds. I was dyslexic as a young child and I still have my first bird book where I ‘ticked’ backwards. I was trying to identify the birds that flew into my pre-school class and begged my mom to let me mark off what I’d seen, so birding has always been a passion,” says Benjamin, who also runs a seal-snorkeling business.
He has spent his life capturing South Africa’s marine world, and now, Benjamin had to redirect his focus to his Kalk Bay garden during the lockdown to photograph Cape Town’s resident birdlife.
He says photographing these feathered beauties is a way to bring joy during these uncertain times.
“They are so beautiful but incredibly difficult to photograph because they are shy and extremely fast. Photographing birds is a challenge but it creates a mental space to observe and admire nature.”
Soon after the lockdown started, Benjamin put white sugar in his bird feeder every morning and enjoyed the sight of local birds and documented them. He posted the images on Instagram and that garnered some online attention.
“The lockdown has made me relax and take the time to do things I would never have gotten around to doing. I settled on this project, which I work on every day. I’m always adding something new to the scene and there are always new birds and interactions happening. It’s made the days fly by,” he says.
During the lockdown, there was only one male Cape Sugar Bird that landed in his garden. This spectacular bird is unique to South Africa and mostly only found in the Western Cape. All of this will go into an exhibition Benjamin is working towards in Cape Town.
‘Our Home Became The Film Set, Blankets Became Props, Windows Became Locations’
A poem exclusively penned and performed in lockdown in the US for the readers of FORBES AFRICA, by Rwandan artist Malaika Uwamahoro.
Malaika Uwamahoro, an artist born in Rwanda, and a Theatre Studies BA graduate from Fordham University in New York City, has performed her own poetry on stages around the world including at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and at the African Union summits in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Kigali (Rwanda).
In 2014, she made her Off-Broadway debut at Signature Theatre in the world premiere of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho.
Currently resident in Portland, Maine, in the United States, she speaks to FORBES AFRICA about her life in lockdown, and about a poem she penned exclusively for the readers of the magazine: “To fight this pandemic, essential workers and medical doctors are doing their best on the frontlines to ensure everyone in need gets the necessary support and best care possible… Before we are all choked and out of breath just by thinking about this, I extend this poetry piece as an invitation to look inward.”
How did she come up with the poem, titled I Don’t Mind!, and its accompanying video?
“It was late in the night, my fiancé was fast asleep, and I thought to myself, ‘how do I really feel about all this, what are my true thoughts about this pandemic, what can I do’? I opened my notes and the words began to flow.”
A few days later, she shared the poem with her fiancé, Christian Kayiteshonga, a filmmaker.
“We had previously been pondering ways to make art in our home. This poem seemed like the perfect push to set us in our new path. Our home became the film set, using blankets and cake mix as props, windows and office space as locations, myself as the talent, him as the crew, and now you as the audience,” says Uwamahoro, who also performed for the ‘In the Spotlight’ segment at the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit in Durban, South Africa, on March 6.
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