George R.R. Martin recently gave a very public “f*** you” to readers speculating on whether he’ll die before he finishes A Song Ice and Fire. Martin, who is currently 65-years-old, had this to say those readers in an interview with the Swiss daily newspaper Tages-Anzeiger: “I find that question pretty offensive, frankly, when people start speculating as to my death and my health. So, f*** you to those people.” He then gave the finger to the camera. While some have been taken aback by his comments, in my view they’re completely justified. While I can understand fans wanting to get the complete story, that doesn’t make it okay to just talk about his death so casually. The problem with doing so is that it reduces a PERSON to an object that just creates things for your amusement.
Entitled Fans The Reason For GRRM Lash-out?
Part of the reason for their concern is that it took him six years to finish A Dance With Dragons, but the real reason, in my opinion, is fan entitlement. What is fan entitlement? Simply put, it’s the view, held consciously or not, that the creators of our favorite shows, books, movies, ect, are there for our convenience and pleasure, and that we are entitled to demand whatever we want from them. However, even if one is worried about Martin never finishing his series, it’s been established that writing at his usual 350 words a day, he’ll be able to finish the next book in 2017, which really isn’t that long a wait. But Martin is not making any promises, nor should he, as he puts it in another recent interview, “I make no promises. I found out long ago that when you look at the overall task, the cathedral you have to build, it looks so daunting that you just give up and sit down and play a video game.” Certainly most of us reading this site can identity with this, right? Writing something of any real value–long or short–takes effort.
This is not the first time the criticism has been made against Martin, it goes all the way back to the first decade of the 2000s, in fact. And yet, no matter how many times people are told this is not okay to say, it keeps rising again, a zombie meme repeated by people who ought to know better. Neil Gaiman spoke about this issue back in 2009, responding to the question of whether Martin was “letting down” fans by not finishing his work. Gaiman’s response: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch. This is a useful thing to know, perhaps a useful thing to point out when you find yourself thinking that possibly George is, indeed, your bitch, and should be out there typing what you want to read right now. People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.”
And really, what else needs to be said but that?