If You Ask Me: Only Daenerys Can Judge Me, or Endgame of Thrones
For many years, Libby Gelman-Waxner, an assistant buyer in juniors’ activewear, moonlighted for Premiere magazine and Entertainment Weekly as the world’s most beloved and irresponsible movie critic. Now she’s been coaxed out of retirement to make her mark in online criticism, at the urging of her close personal friend, the playwright and New Yorker contributor Paul Rudnick.
There are only two truly mortal sins which will zoom you straight to Hell, without a carry-on or a visit to Satan’s Ambassador Lounge. First, of course, is voting for Trump, or even saying his name in a Trader Joe’s, and second is admitting that you don’t watch “Game of Thrones.” I’m not talking about myself, because I’d never, ever do either of these things, I’m just saying that, if anyone suspects that you’re not completely caught up on “G.o.T.,” you will be scorned as a traitor to a sacred viewing event that falls somewhere on a spiritual scale between childbirth and “The Sopranos.” If you don’t watch “G.o.T.,” you won’t receive medical care, a decent burial, or anything but a savage beatdown at the office water cooler, as everyone sneers, “Oh, were you too busy volunteering at a soup kitchen? Do you think that people enjoy being served mashed potatoes by someone who doesn’t know who Daenerys Targaryen is, or who dares to suggest that her name has too many vowels and sounds like a mass-market Scandinavian ice cream?”
Slightly lesser crimes include posting even mildly critical or uninformed remarks about “Star Wars” or, if you’re dealing with millennials, Harry Potter. “Star Wars” is Jane Austen for little boys and their dads; it encapsulates their notions of honorable behavior, with only one chick allowed aboard each space cruiser. “Star Wars” also provides an infinite number of useless details to be memorized and debated; learning the exact dimensions of a Storm Trooper’s white plastic helmet is the only break most teen-age boys get from masturbating. Potterites can be even more passionate and disturbing, as they tend to believe that Harry and Hogwarts truly exist, and if you question the reality of magic, or ask them to remove their capes during job interviews, they’ll mutter, “You’re such a Muggle.” Potterfolk have chosen spellcasting as a viable alternative to adulthood and exercise, and can only reach orgasm by imagining the sorting hat selecting which house they’ll belong to, as they moan “Gryffindor!” Personally, I’ve always hoped that the hat would take one look at me and pronounce “Givenchy.”
But “G.o.T.” is another realm entirely, especially because it’s current, so the yoga-class recaps become gossip, as if a person might encounter a dragon or a White Walker at their cousin’s upcoming wedding. (They’ll certainly find both at their niece’s “G.o.T.”-themed bat mitzvah.) But right now, in the safe space of this column, I’m going to own my truth and admit that, while I’ve tried to watch “G.o.T.,” after thirty seconds my brain can’t stop demanding, “Why do all the actors seem to be wearing three cheap wigs, stacked atop their heads with Elmer’s glue? And why are they always trudging through some Arctic wasteland, while wrapped in what look like bearskin duvets, as if they’ve just been ejected from a Neanderthal slumber party? And why are many of the women tweezed and glossed into beauty-tutorial perfection, like Kardashians at a Renaissance Faire? And why does that Iron Throne look like a shop-class project designed for Hugh Hefner’s shag-carpeted man cave, to be flanked by a pole lamp and a bar cart?”
I am obviously a hideously ignorant mouth-breather who doesn’t deserve to live, let alone fantasize about any of “G.o.T.” ’s lumbering dreamboats, who all speak with high-school-drama-club, fancy-person accents. So I’ll have to content myself with focussing on “Avengers: Endgame,” because, while it’s reaping billions, the Avengers movies never inspire quite the same homicidal online wrath as the other franchises. Although, if a viewer wants to provoke apocalyptic fan rage, all they need to do is confuse Marvel characters with superheroes from the DC roster, as this will cause finished-basement tantrums among the sort of pubescent shut-ins whose moms willingly separate the green M&M’s from the blue M&M’s rather than risk having a retainer hurled across the room.
The producers swear that “Endgame” is the final chapter in the Avengers saga, which seems to have lasted since the Harding Administration. The movie is sweetly nostalgic as it revisits many of the earlier installments—it’s like sharing a crocheted afghan with your nana in assisted living as she pages through her scrapbooks—that is, if your nana had constantly saved the planet from annihilation by tossing buses across Times Square. In the previous movie, the evil Thanos obliterated half the world’s population, including many Avengers, because he was cranky about overcrowding; Thanos is Clint Eastwood before his Metamucil kicks in. In “Endgame,” the handful of remaining superheroes bands together to make things right, using time travel, quantum physics, and lots of group meetings, so the whole thing resembles a not-particularly-urgent pharmaceutical-sales-rep session in a Kansas City Marriott conference room. I half expected Thor to start handing out souvenir pens.
Everyone in “Endgame” seems weary and over it, and there’s almost no shirtlessness, as if the hunks couldn’t be bothered to get in shape since they’d soon be unemployed. I spent the movie picturing another franchise gathering: the current, ever-blossoming lineup of Democratic Presidential hopefuls. The beyond-adorable, hyper-educated Pete Buttigieg is our new Harry Potter, with his scrumptious husband, Chasten, as Ron Weasley. Beto O’Rourke is a stoner Luke Skywalker, always forgetting his lightsabre, while Bernie Sanders is our Gandalf, using Middle Earth enchantments to locate the reading glasses astride his head. Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams are Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, respectively, only with more grit, because they have to deal with Mitch McConnell as a new Batman villain: the Spineless Space Turtle. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz are vying for the role of Ephialtes from the gladiator flick “300,” the deformed Spartan turncoat so desperate for attention that he ultimately betrays everyone.
Joe Biden is a goofy, World’s Best Grandpa Star-Lord, bopping to seventies hits, and Hillary will always be Princess Leia, especially in Leia’s fed-up later years, once she realized that even killing Darth Vader didn’t bring peace or gender equity to the universe. Elizabeth Warren is Yoda, because she’s so smart but no one listens to her, and all of the other hard-to-remember candidates are like the back-up superheroes in “Endgame,” the ones who look vaguely familiar but don’t have particularly distinctive wardrobes, as if by the time they showed up for battle all that was left in the costume box were some wrinkled tights and plastic wristbands.
Of course, Trump wishes he were as savvy and attractive as Jabba the Hutt, but he’s really Jabba’s more disgusting brother Blabba the Snutt. Stephen Miller is an obvious Gollum, right down to the spray-painted comb-over barely disguising the bony skull, and Jared and Ivanka are off-the-rack Minions, squealing nonsense. Melania is a spidery, bogus mom from a Tim Burton nightmare, while Mike Pence is a Junior Chamber of Commerce, evangelical Thanos, promoting his used-car lot while trying to rid the world of gay people, racial minorities, and uppity women, with his grinning wife, Karen, dishing out the poisoned baked goods.
“Endgame” is thankfully more comforting than real-life politics, because most of the good gals and guys triumph. But there’s never been a supervillain who lies and smirks as repulsively as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and even the Transformers might be hard-pressed to vanquish Trump’s base. But my money’s on Captain America, because if Chris Evans ever ran for office, the polling places would explode with lust. Chris is so cute and so much fun on liberal Twitter that he could vaporize even a blathering Tucker Carlson (as the Doughy Preppy Reptile), if you ask me.