Dead is dead. Except when it’s a lie.
Spoilers for both “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” ahead…
For 10 months now, we’ve heard producers, show runners and actors profess what we all knew to be a lie: That “Game of Thrones’” heroic Jon Snow is really dead.
We knew he couldn’t have survived that many plunging knives. Still, few people thought the lord commander of the Knight’s Watch had swung his sword for the last time.
Not true, said those involved with HBO’s blockbuster show. He really is dead. Kit Harington, the actor who plays Jon, was forced to mislead fans and even his fellow cast members. Despite the misdirections, Snow was miraculously resurrected during the most recent episode.
It’s still anyone’s guess as to whether he will be himself again or a zombified version a la “The Mountain.”
Harington voiced his misgivings in this video about the calculated lies. It’s similar to a video Steven Yeun created after “The Walking Dead” tried to convince us fan-fav Glenn Rhee was eaten alive by walkers earlier this past season.
The show is known for killing off primary characters. So Glenn simply could have been next.
The show’s producers didn’t stop there with the lies.
They went so far as to remove Yeun’s name from the credits. (Even “Game of Thrones” wasn’t that cruel.) Yeun essentially had to go into hiding to avoid being forced into a lie.
Live Long and Lie
Go back to the last “Star Trek” movie for another high profile lie.
For months, director J.J. Abrams and crew swore that the enemy for the rebooted sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness” would not be Khan. No, they insisted, Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing a different baddie, not the one immortalized by actor Ricardo Montalban.
Of course, that wasn’t the case. Cumberbatch’s Khan went on to “kill” Capt. Kirk as quickly as Abrams killed his credibility with fans.
Abrams could have taken a lesson from the man whose footsteps he followed by making “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Think back to the summer of 1980. Did George Lucas tell us whether Darth Vader was really Luke’s father after the stunning reveal in “The Empire Strikes Back?” Nope. He went back to his sound stage and immersed himself in Ewoks and droids.
He could have toyed with us. He could have misdirected us. Instead, he simply allowed the question to our imaginations and let the answer play out on the screen a few summers later. Why couldn’t Abrams have followed that lead?
Hate Lies? Blame Twitter
A lot of these lies can be connected to the actors’ and directors’ promotional duties – particularly in a social media-fueled world. In the past, it was much easier to avoid the tough plot questions from reporters. But with our pervasively connected culture – and the need to be heard – few filmmakers can escape the prodding from rabid fans.
During a presidential campaign, it’s normal for a candidate to stretch the truth, to misrepresent an opponent or to pad one’s experience. We expect it. We tolerate it, even if we don’t relish it. But when an entertainer lies to us, we’re outraged.
FAST FACT: Actor Steven Yeun didn’t tweet during the time his character was allegedly dead on “The Walking Dead.” He told ew.com that fans might detect something from his messages that could reveal the truth.
We bring Jon Snow and Glenn Rhee into our living rooms because we love the characters and the situations they find themselves in. We might vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but they’re not our friends. We wouldn’t have them over for dinner or to play with the kids.
With a few exceptions, we haven’t seen their personal struggles play out in front of us.
Obviously, Harrington and Yeun are actors. They are paid to transform into characters. In a sense, that’s a lie unto itself. But it’s one we accept at the outset of our relationship with them. What we don’t accept is when the people writing the stories or creating the look and feel of the show intentionally misdirect us.
You have us hooked already. Don’t lie to us.
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche