【媒库文选】《权力的游戏》在流行文化和外交上教给我们什么

2019-06-12 12:46   参考消息网  

The eight-year-long cultural phenomenon of HBO's Game of Thrones culminated on May 18 with the fiery destruction of the Iron Throne and the death of the formerly beloved Queen Daenerys. The show's final season has produced an explosion of commentary on what it all means. What is the appropriate basis for political authority? Can Daenerys be both a feminist hero and a war criminal? Does might make right? Should it, in a time of war?

Among the foreign-policy intelligentsia, and society broadly, interpreting Game of Thrones has become a cottage industry. Every political analyst, historian, or theorist has his or her take on what lessons can be drawn from the story for real-world foreign policy. This enthusiasm tells us something about the show's political implications:fans and writers argue over Game of Thrones precisely because there is power in interpreting a story to support one's own arguments about what is right and who gets to choose.

In 2012, I joined this fray, arguing in these pages that the overall narrative arc of Game of Thrones favored a constructivist rather than a realist view of global politics, in that it disrupted stale formulas, privileged the marginalized, and taught that power hinges on attention to justice. The series' denouement largely confirms this reading. Those left standing can include women, cripples, bastards, and “cowards.” Meaningful and necessary institutional changes can arise from global collective action. Brute force cannot win the day in the absence of ethical restraint.

Above all, Game of Thrones contains a still deeper constructivist message about the power of narrative to lead or mislead. Tyrion's message to the elites of Westeros in the season finale sums up this lesson of the show: “What is it that unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags?” Tyrion's answer, is that “there's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.” His argument draws on a deeper critical constructivism that emphasizes the productive power of political narrative. Storytelling, a critical theorist would likewise say, makes sense of political reality, constructs political community, engenders rebellions, foments genocides, and forestalls wars.

People love stories, and, as Paul Musgrave notes, storytelling matters in how we understand political reality. Well-known fictional tropes can be used to set political agendas and sell political ideas. For example, as Manjana Milkoreit has written, environmental activists have used the popularity of Game of Thrones to encourage actions that fight climate change. That climate change turned out to be only a subplot in Game of Thrones doesn't really matter; here political actors used a cultural meme to serve their own ends. Political analysts need to know more about how people do this and when it works.

If Game of Thrones teaches us that stories matter, then the foreign affairs community should take political fiction seriously—not as fans and literary critics but as political analysts. We can and should take a hard look at the effects of this tale in the real world: how concepts from fictional stories circulate through the policymaking process, and how pop cultural artifacts or narratives influence real-world political discourse and policy decisions. Then—just like Jon Snow—we can use that knowledge to inform difficult decisions about how to act.

5月18日,随着铁王座被愤怒地毁掉,此前深受人们喜爱的女王丹妮莉丝死去,HBO电视网制作的《权力的游戏》掀起的持续八年的文化现象在这一天达到高潮。这部电视剧的最后一季激起了一次评论的大爆发,探讨这一切到底意味着什么?什么是政治权力的恰当基础?丹妮莉丝可以既是一位女性主义英雄,又是一个战争罪犯吗?强权即公理吗?战时应当是这样吗?

在外交政策知识界和广泛的社会层面,解读《权力的游戏》已经成为一项全民参与的活动。每一位政治分析家、历史学家或理论家对于现实世界中的外交政策可以从这个故事中吸取什么经验教训都有自己的理解。这种热情告诉了我们这部电视剧的政治影响:粉丝和作家们就《权力的游戏》产生争论恰恰是因为,他们有权力解读一个故事来佐证自己关于什么是正确的、谁有机会选择的观点。

2012年,我加入这场论战之中,在本刊撰文提出,《权力的游戏》的整体叙事弧线对全球政治的看法支持建构主义者而不是现实主义者,因为它打破了乏味的模式,特别照顾被边缘化的群体,而且告诉人们权力取决于对公平的关注。这部连续剧的结局基本上证实了这种解读。最后活着的可以包括女人、跛子、私生子和“懦夫”。全球集体行动可以带来有意义的、必要的制度性变革。在没有道德约束的情况下,蛮力无法取得成功。

尤其是,《权力的游戏》关于叙事的引导或者说误导力量包含了一种格外深刻的建构主义思想。提利昂在最后一季中向维斯特洛大陆的精英们传达的信息总结了这部剧集带给人们的思考:“是什么让人们团结起来?军队?黄金?旗帜?”提利昂的答案是“世界上没有什么比一个好故事更有力量”。他的观点运用了一种更深层的批判性建构主义思想,它强调政治叙事的生产性力量。一位批判理论家同样会说,讲故事能让政治现实易于理解、构建政治群体、制造叛乱、酝酿屠杀以及阻止战争。

人们喜欢故事,而且,正如保罗·马斯格雷夫斯指出的那样,讲故事对于我们如何理解政治现实发挥重要作用。可以利用众所周知的虚构的比喻制定政治议事日程并兜售政治理念。例如,马尼亚娜·米尔科瑞特曾写道,环保活动人士一直利用《权力的游戏》的热度鼓励采取行动对抗气候变化。气候变化在《权力的游戏》中只是一个次要情节这一点并不重要,在这里,政治人物利用文化基因达到自己的目的。政治分析家们需要更多了解怎么做到这一点,以及什么时候这种做法奏效。

如果说《权力的游戏》告诉我们故事至关重要,那么外交界应当认真对待政治小说,不是作为粉丝和文学评论人士,而是作为政治分析家。我们可以而且应当认真思考的是这个故事在现实世界中的影响:虚构故事中的观点如何在决策程序中流传,以及流行文化艺术作品或者故事如何影响真实世界中的政治论述或者政策决定。接下来——就像琼恩·雪诺那样——我们可以利用这种知识做出如何采取行动的艰难决策。(刘晓燕译自美国《外交》双月刊网站5月27日文章)

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