|By Alan Hall | Excerpted from the July 2011 Socionomist
Originally published under the title “A Game of Thrones: Almost Everybody’s a Bad Guy”
Artists take note: If you understand socionomics, you will have a strategic advantage in the marketplace.
In this July 2011 article, socionomist Alan Hall explains that the HBO series Game of Thrones has been harvesting profits from the long-term social mood trend toward the negative. Here is an excerpt of Hall’s article.
George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire launched in 1996, became a niche hit and then went mainstream in the mood decline following the 2000 peak. HBO filmed a pilot for its adaptation, A Game of Thrones, in 2009, following the second big market debacle in the 2000s, and in March 2010 committed to produce nine more episodes. In January 2011, Thrones the book hit the New York Times bestseller list. In April 2011, the first TV episode drew 8.7 million viewers3; two days later, HBO committed to a second season.
Time declared Martin one of the most influential people of 2011.
In a 2005 book review, Time magazine’s Lev Grossman proclaimed George R.R. Martin “The American Tolkien,”2 after John R. R. Tolkien, the English author of the immensely popular fantasy classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was immensely talented, as is Martin. But talent and hard work alone cannot create an enduring cultural icon. To attract and enthrall a vast number of receptive minds, a work of art also must harmonize with the collective mood of society. Tolkien’s and Martin’s epics are cases in point.
According to Robert Prechter’s Pioneering Studies in Socionomics (2003), “Definitive morals and heroes accompany a bull market; blurred morals and mixed heroes accompany a bear market.”5 Tolkien’s masterpiece was almost entirely a bull-market work. It featured clear divisions between good and evil and a virtuous hero on a defining quest accompanied by good-natured hobbits, dwarves and elves. As you might expect, his trilogy became massively popular near the mid-1960s Cycle-degree social mood peak—within a historic Supercycle bull market. The Lord of the Rings films—the highest grossing motion picture trilogy worldwide of all time—hit theaters in 2001, 2002 and 2003 after eight years in production, the entire process nicely bracketing the 2000 Grand Supercycle peak in social mood.
Martin’s epic, in contrast, is a decidedly bear-market work. In fact, it makes Tolkien’s trilogy appear to be a pleasant fairy tale in comparison. It portrays a chaotic and unpredictable political struggle peopled with complex characters whose morals come in all shades of gray. It visits and revisits the grisly details of such themes as betrayal, immolation, hanging, beheading, amputation, poisoning, cannibalism, incest, disinherited bastard children, deformities and prostitution, to name just a few….
In this three-page article, Alan Hall explains that Game of Thrones’ stories and plotlines echo today’s real-world headlines. In this lies Martin’s success – “giv[ing] the public what they want, when they want it” (Robert Prechter, History’s Hidden Engine, 2006).
Bonus: A brief analysis of Breaking Bad – another dark, mixed-morality success story.
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Most economists, historians and sociologists
presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes
the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The
events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events,
macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally
occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not
randomly distributed, as is commonly believed, but are in fact probabilistically
predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available
meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social
mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different
in that financial decisions are motivated by the herding impulse while economic
choices are guided by supply and demand. For more information about socionomic
theory, see (1) the text, The
Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior © 1999, by Robert Prechter;
(2) the introductory documentary History's
Hidden Engine; (3) the video Toward
a New Science of Social Prediction, Prechter’s 2004 speech before
the London School of Economics in which he presents evidence to support his
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