The brilliant Game of Thrones fake political attack ads

Where is Joffrey Baratheon's birth certificate? Mother Jones cleverly spoofs modern political tactics by riffing on the vulnerabilities of the HBO series' power players

King Joffrey
(Image credit: YouTube)

"Election Day is coming." Mother Jones, the left-wing magazine, is spoofing the increasingly common use of negative political commercials with a series of fake political attack ads. The twist? The mock ads center around characters from HBO's Game of Thrones, the hit epic drama about various corrupt players who each make dubious claims to the Iron Throne, and thus control over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. (Watch the videos below.) Here, a guide to the clever videos and the reaction they've stirred:

What's the idea behind these ads?

According to the magazine's news team, Game of Thrones is fundamentally a story of "intense political intrigue." As various players battle for control of Westeros, "alliances are forged and broken; backroom deals are cut; principles are sacrificed." And it would all be worse if today's super PACs and dark-money outfits existed then. To illustrate how outlandishly such groups target rival campaigns, the magazine produced three videos that apply the tropes of modern politics to the wheelings and dealings of Game of Thrones. "As summer heats up, so do the political attack ads," says Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku. That makes Mother Jones' project perfectly timed.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

What are the videos?

(Warning: Spoilers lie ahead.) The three fake attack ads recast three of Thrones' power-hungry leads as campaigning politicians. The first, titled "Daenerys Targaryen: Wrong for Dragons, Wrong for Westeros," is paid for by the fictional Committee to Protect Dragons, and blasts Daenerys for her inability to care for her dragons, her request for a bailout, and her unsavory ties to Dothraki "terrorists." The second, "Joffrey Baratheon: Where Is the Birth Certificate?," spoofs birtherism by ridiculing Joffrey's royal parentage claims, and implying that he's actually the son of his mother's twin brother. The third ad, "Robb Stark: The Biggest Celebrity in the North," echoes attacks on Obama by insinuating that Robb's popularity with the people doesn't mean he's fit to rule.

What has the reaction been?

The ads are "wicked funny," says Gayle Falkenthal at The Washington Times. Not only will Game of Thrones fanatics enjoy them, but "astute observers of modern politics will shriek with glee." Of course, "the saddest part is how true to life some of these ads actually are," says Carter Matt. Not everyone found the satire particularly sharp. "We laughed… but only because they're so outrageous," says Kirsten Acuna at Business Insider.

Daenerys Targaryen: Wrong for Dragons, Wrong for Westeros

Joffrey Baratheon: Where Is the Birth Certificate?

Robb Stark: The Biggest Celebrity in the North

Sources: Business Insider, Carter Matt, Forbes, Kotaku, Mother Jones, Wash. Times

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.