BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Northern English Stereotypes and Pop Culture Part 3-The North Remembers

Here we are! The big finale! As we move on to the last stop of this tour of sci-fi and fantasy Northern English stereotypes we come to the twenty tens (I think that’s what we’re calling this decade, no one seems to have decided yet). In the nineties a lesser known fantasy author from America wrote an epic book that became a quiet cult classic. Then a few TV executives looked at it and turned it into one of the most popular TV shows of the last decade Game of Thrones. The series is fantastic and has a lot to say about politics, people and war. Within the programme the Northern stereotype is in full focus and plays a key role in the narrative.

blog 3Picture source: http://www.myteespot.com/images/Images_d/img_QEz164.jpg [Accessed: 27/05/2015]

Weak Spoiler Alert! I’m not going to be directly talking about spoilers but a few things may come up in the course of my discussion that could spoil you on at the least the first series. As we came into the twenty tens the Northern stereotype was improving, Doctor Who had shown the world that Northerners could be intelligent, funny and charismatic and this laid some brilliant ground work for House Stark in Game of Thrones. Ned Stark perfectly represents the new Northern Stereotype, he is fiercely loyal, he is smart and he is wise. He also is still defeated, in a way, by the South. Game of Thrones rallies the audience behind House Stark while also showing how the world breaks their morals and their loyalty apart. There is a constant sense that the Stark characters are stuck between their honour and advancing their own personal motives (particularly when it comes to Sansa and Jon Snow).

We are also presented with the older Northern stereotypes with House Bolton, he are barbaric, crude and vicious. This creates a contrast and a subtext. The series seems to suggest that yes northern stereotypes have progressed and so has the North itself. For various reasons (which I hope to cover in a later article) there has been a cultural and technological boom out of the North of England that has resulted in the BBC relocating to Manchester and Liverpool winning capital of culture among other achievements in the last decade. But all of that doesn’t mean we can stop, it means we have to continue to push the boundaries. The North of England has amazing potential to be a hub of culture as it is filled with brilliant artist and fun people who need to shine so that we leave the old stereotype of House Bolton in the dust and even triumph over the stereotype House Stark gives us and forge a new stereotype for the next decade and the one after that.

And the best thing that can happen is for the Northern stereotype to eventually fade as instead we show that we are a diverse people with diverse physical, intellectual and creative talents (which is not to say there isn’t talented people through out the whole of the UK). I want to be writing on this blog thirty years from now (which I’m pretty sure I will be) about a new sci-fi or fantasy movie of TV show where there’s a Northern English character that’s simply from the North of England instead of playing up to a cringey stereotype of what the North is…but then again maybe all the dust from the mines has driven me mad.

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