Very few people in the world know what to expect when season six of “Game of Thrones” kicks off on Monday.
You can probably count writer George R.R. Martin among them and the producers, but even the cast members are in the dark as much as possible, having been given access only to those parts of the script which involved them.
Then there’s US President Barack Obama, who by now has probably binged on the entire series.
“He’s the leader of the free world,” HBO showrunner Dan Weiss told the crowd at a premiere event earlier this week. “When the commander-in-chief says, ‘I want to see advanced episodes,’ what are you gonna do?”
Vanessa Golembewski, writing for Refinery29, thought this presented the “perfect opportunity to test the limits of the Freedom Of Information Act”. Episodes of “Game of Thrones” are just a file. And given the president is in possession of a file, it’s her right as a US citizen to see it.
So she made the request, and this morning, it shifted along the line from “submitted” to “evaluation”:
— Vanessa Golembewski (@vgolembewski) April 19, 2016
“(It) means a real-life person is looking it over,” Golembewski said.
It was her first FOIA request, so she kept it simple.
“I wrote: ‘I would like President Obama to share his advance screeners for Game of Thrones with the public’,” she wrote on Refinery29.
Given the shift to “evaluation” seemed to happen quite quickly, Golembewski is starting to consider what to do if it actually gets greenlit. Maybe watch some episodes with the POTUS, if required?
“Yes, of course,” she said. “And I might get greedy and try to see if his dog Bo can also hang out during it.”
Here’s a curly one. If her request is approved, and she’s gone to the trouble of using government resources to process it in the public interest, it’s only fair to assume Golembewski is kind of obligated to share those details with the public, right?
“I honestly didn’t think it would get approved when I submitted it,” she said. “It was more of a fun experiment that’s gotten a surprising amount of attention.
“But, if it does somehow get approved, I would be happy to share whatever I was legally allowed to. Maybe have a big viewing party?”
So far, readers are divided over Golembewski’s mission. There’s a lot of angst about the “$50K of taxpayers’ money” that’s being wasted on her request.
Golembewski has no idea if that’s even accurate, but is pretty sure says the US government “did not have to hire an entire team just to process my request” and she’s still going by the assumption it will only result in a swift rejection letter.
“And, like I said, this was really just an experiment, never meant to be very serious,” she said. “So my hope is that a clerk is having a boring day, wading through FOIA forms, comes across mine, and gets a nice laugh.
“And who knows – maybe they’re a GoT fan too?”