Happy New Year, readers! Hoping your year is as bloody awesome as the pun in my headline.
2018 has kicked off with the news that on January 23, the UK’s Royal Mail is releasing no less than 15 stamps commemorating “the significant British contribution” to the production of the TV series Game of Thrones.
Here’s the Royal Mail’s justification for jumping on the GoT band-dragon:
The Game of Thrones production involves a very significant British contribution. Principal filming of the series is at Titanic Studios in Belfast, at the Linen Hill Film Studio in Banbridge and on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland, with additional filming in Scotland and European locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain. Additionally, the acclaimed cast is predominantly British and Irish, and British expertise is to the fore in many areas of the production, including award-winning costume design and prosthetic special effects.
And here’s what they might as well have written: “Game of Thrones is huge and we are out to make a shipload of coin.”
Masters of Coin
Regular readers would know I’m a fan of pop culture on stamps, and no one does it with more class than the UK. I’ve gushed over releases on Star Wars, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Classic Toys and the Great Fire of London narrated in comic-book style.
I’m also a long-time fan of Game of Thrones, at least since last year when I binged on the series so I could re-engage with people I hadn’t spoken to for five years, because all they would talk about was Game of Thrones, which was tedious, but my only other option was to spend the party talking to people whose only conversation point was how proud they are that they’re not into Game of Thrones, which is even more tedious. Long story short: big fan, now.
British stamps do, of course, have a long tradition of depicting royals who are into getting it on with their own relatives, but… I dunno. It’s one thing to honour a long-time, culturally significant national contribution to pop culture like Star Wars, or Dr Who as the Royal Mail did in 2013. But immortalising a more recent TV series on your nation’s stamps before the show has even finished? That crosses a line even for me. It reeks of opportunistic money-grubbing. If Game of Thrones gets stamps, why not One Direction? 1D also involved a very significant British contribution, with a cast predominantly British and Irish. (In case you’re wondering: this is a negative analogy for the purpose of rhetoric. This is not me calling for an issue of stamps commemorating One Direction.)
And as with any stamp release susceptible to ongoing events, it’s fraught with danger. What if the final season sucks? What if one of the featured actors turns out to be dodgy or gets buried under the #metoo avalanche? Your stamp will look like a First Class turnip.
None of this is to say that Game of Thrones isn’t worthy. It’s a magnificent production of extraordinary worldwide popularity. It’s just… why not wait until the finale, give it maybe ten years, and then see if it has reached the pantheon of stampworthy cultural touchstones? That’s not to deny that this sheetlet is awesome.
I have one other problem with this issue. It features ten characters central to Game of Thrones (plus a sheetlet depicting dragons, direwolves, giants, White Walkers, the Night King and the Iron Throne)… and yet NO LORD PETYR BAELISH? What an OUTRAGE!
Olenna Tyrell gets a stamp for spending most of the show sitting around gossiping – and OK, fair enough, she does [spoiler redacted] – but they fail to honour the ONE character responsible for [a whole bunch of stuff that I won’t reveal]? I demand that smirking salt’n’pepper bad boy in my stamp album, thank you very much Royal Mail.
Don’t get me wrong, Olenna kicks butt and Diana Rigg is a legend, but come on, there are already 15 stamps in the series. Maximise that sweet profit and chuck in Littlefinger along with, say, Joffrey, Varis, and – well, I could say Bran or Margaery, but personally a man would name Jaqen H’ghar. It’d sure make a man buy a few more stamps. It’d be brilliant to see Brienne of Tarth and Yara Greyjoy too, and Caitlin Stark is suspiciously missing, and… OK, I’m starting realise how tricky this job must have been.
Happily, I CAN report that the designs are as sumptuous as the TV show itself, even if they do have Kit Harington in one of his I-couldn’t-possibly-put-more-clothes-on moments. I particularly love the use of a unique dominant-but-muted shade for each character, treating the eye to an intoxicating journey across the spectrum when viewed as a group.
So, just like when I watch the show, I’m going to put all my moral, political and personal beefs aside, and just soak in the pretty pictures. You win, Royal Mail.
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