The Game of Thrones premier this year may have been the most-anticipated premier of all time. It was certainly the most watched premiere in HBO history. More than 10 million tuned in to watch the first run, and six million more tuned in for replays or streamed the show on HBO GO or HBO Now. And, fortunately for HBO, the show sure didn’t disappoint…
The episode kicked off with Arya Stark, wearing the guise of Walder Frey, killing nearly every important warrior or leader in House Frey, effectively ending that House for well and good. And it careened on from there, before ending with a triumphant, ambitious and hopeful Mother of Dragons returning to rule at her birthplace, the island castle of Dragonstone.
But it was what happened in the middle that really got fans talking, around water coolers and on social media. There was Arya again, riding through the woods and happening on a group of Lannister soldiers sharing a meal and a song around the campfire. Most fans fully expected the assassin in training to hop down off her horse and end all those Lannister men, even the silver-tongued devil with the red … wait … wait … hold on … is that ED SHEERAN???
It certainly was. Standing out among the, mostly, dark-haired Lannister detail, carrot-topped singer Sheeran finished his song, then chatted up Arya as the vengeance-minded Stark found her single-minded purpose blunted by the easy manner of the men who offered her warmth and food … and never once threatened to do what just about every other patrol has threatened to do to women in this show.
Response to the guest shot was decidedly mixed. Sheeran fans loved it for multiple reasons. First, they heard the voice and thought, “no, it couldn’t be…” but then it was, and they were delighted. Then there was the other half of the equation. For that, we need a bit of context.
For some reason, social media, like a middle school lunchroom crowd, has chosen certain celebrities to hate, really for no reason. Topping the list are acts like Nickelback, who sells out shows, despite all the vitriol they get online. And then there’s Sheeran, who also sells both his music and his concerts well, but still manages to draw a tremendous amount of bile on the ‘net.
Many people can’t really figure this out. Count Sheeran among them. After being barraged by negative tweets, the singer closed down his Twitter account. It was back up hours later, but the number of fans went from the millions down into a few thousand. Sheeran explained his decision to the Sun, essentially saying he’s dropping away from using Twitter for much of anything because the platform is chock full of people “saying mean things,” and he doesn’t want any part of that.
This opinion of Twitter is shared by many, in and out of the spotlight, and Sheeran may not be the last celeb to make this call.
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