Although George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is far too sprawling to be distilled to one point, if it’s anything, it’s this: war is hell. Also: war is stupid. Really, really stupid. The HBO adaption, known to people as Game of Thrones, has done a good job this season of illustrating how the royalty, far removed from the ravages of battle, are largely unaware of the horrors the people go through to serve their ideological, religious, or political gamesmanship. Most oblivious of all, perhaps, is the boy-king Joffrey, thrust into the role of ruler without any qualifications, or any real understanding of how governing works, constantly trying to project a fierce, powerful image of himself throughout the world, no matter how many lives must be lost along the way to do so.
On a completely unrelated note, here’s an image of George W. Bush’s head on a spike outside the castle walls of King’s Landing, via Forbes. The shows creators David Benioff and D.B Weiss, this Forbes article points out, have in fact confirmed that it is Bush’s head in the scene. “The last head on the left is George Bush,” Benioff and Weiss reveal in the DVD commentary. “George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It’s not a choice, it’s not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around.”
That’s an unwitting metaphor for Joffrey’s approach to war: sometimes someone needs to lose their head, it doesn’t matter who, just to prove that you’re capable of taking it. If you want to extrapolate any real world parallels from that, that’s up to you.