Two weeks ago, it was the rapecest controversy. Then last Sunday, it was about how Game of Thrones is veering away from George R.R. Martin’s books. And let’s not forget the overnight online stardom of Ser Pounce. Through it all, Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have declined to publicly respond to the waves of online noise. They’re probably very busy, and perhaps they prefer their HBO hit speak for itself (the series keeps setting ratings records, after all). But their silence in regards to week-to-week fandom controversies might also have something to do with this: Last year, the producers made a pact that they would no longer read comments on the Internet.
We spoke to Benioff and Weiss about online fandom during our set visit last year (the interview took place in September, but this is the first time we’ve published these comments). “We both made this pact that we were going to stop looking at stuff online because you can go into the rabbit hole and get lost in this world of online Thrones commentary if you’re not careful,” Benioff said. “We both felt a lot saner after we stopped doing that. There’s many more important things to be reading about online than our own show.”
The producers noted they saw some of the online reaction to the Red Wedding, which they felt like a “fair exception” to the rule. But otherwise, they try their best to stay away from the Internet chatter. The producers added that this troll-abstinence strategy wasn’t in reaction to any one incident or headline.
“You look at a message board and there might be nine positive comments, but the tenth one is negative — and that’s the one you’ll remember, that’s what sticks in your head,” Benioff said. “And you want to have an argument with the person: ‘Well, here’s why this happened [in the show],’ and you can’t. You start having an argument in your mind and you realize you’re losing your mind. You’re having an internal argument with somebody named DragonQueen42 — you’re never going to win that argument.”
That the bulk of Thrones commentary is really positive doesn’t necessarily make the prospect of wading through it more healthy, Weiss noted. “Even with the positive stuff it becomes a bit like trying to have a conversation in an echo chamber,” Weiss said. “It completely confounds the normal creative process. It seems like an all-or-nothing thing. Either you’re listening or you’re not listening. It feels great that they enjoy what we’re doing. You read five, six, seven of those [comments] and you get the feeling people love what you’re doing. But there’s a certain point that it gives you a little pleasure-hit each time you click on a comment and before you know it you’re like a coke-addicted lab monkey clicking-clicking-clicking. I don’t want to be a coke-addicted lab monkey. I think a couple pellets is enough and move on.”
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