“Don’t fuck with my love” wasn’t sung by Sheerios, but spewed by Thronies after GoT’s highly anticipated return on July 16th. Though reactions to Ed Sheeran’s infamous cameo were either hilarious, witty, or (excessively) aggressive, most of them are rooted in the same simple fact: the singer’s appearance on the show was a terrible idea.
Celebrity—i.e. non-actor—cameos are far from being new in the film and TV industry. Through all ten seasons of Friends, dozens of superstars ranging from Chris Isaak to Richard Branson have starred as guests. A sans–make–up Michael Jackson portrayed an alien in Men in Black 2. David Bowie was basically an accredited actor: throughout his career, he had more than twenty appearances on the silver screen. In fact, it’s safe to say that almost everybody who’s somebody has made at least an appearance either in a movie or in a TV show.
The reasons behind a celebrity cameo vary. Sometimes producers choose to call on guest–stars in an attempt to attract a more diverse audience. Other times, celebs are invited as a means to acknowledge their artistic contribution. The sheer frequency of these appearances implies that most of them will basically go unnoticed. However, there are some that attract a lot of praise, such as Britney Spears’ 2008 comeback on How I Met Your Mother—and then, of course, there are disasters like that of Ed Sheeran’s.
But what makes a cameo good or bad? Realistically, the on–screen time of non–actors is minimal, and to say that their roles are generally insignificant would be an understatement. When cameos become a publicity stunt, it’s not even worth assessing their artistic value. So why are GoT fans fuming?
The show’s setting is a fictional realm. Historically, the time period it depicts was inspired by the Middle Ages. Much like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, GoT absorbs its fans into an imaginary universe: when you watch Arya Stark riding her horse in the woods, you can almost feel the smell of the cold, damp ground. You’re there, with her, but then an all–too–familiar voice bursts your bubble: uh–oh, the same guy that sings “Shape of You” on the radio 24/7 (when is it going to end?) has somehow infiltrated Westeros.