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HBO unimpressed by Trump’s Game of Thrones meme
To promote his administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran, President Trump turned Friday to the wildly popular television show “Game of Thrones.”
In a tweet that featured a cinematic poster with a steely depiction of the president, he included the words “Sanctions Are Coming.” That phrase mimicked one from the show, “Winter Is Coming,” a foreboding line that warns of a deep freeze that will herald an army of the undead from the north to conquer other lands.
HBO responded to Mr. Trump with a message of its own: Keep us out of it.
“We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes,” an HBO spokesman, Quentin Schaffer, said in a statement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
HBO’s official statement came after a dose of snark on Twitter in response to Mr. Trump’s tweet. “How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?” the company wrote. (Dothraki is a language spoken by a group of nomadic warriors, also called Dothraki, in “Game of Thrones.”)
Two members of the “Thrones” cast gave personal reactions of distaste. Sophie Turner, the English actress that plays Sansa Stark in the show, replied to Mr. Trump’s tweet with a blunt “Ew.” And Maisie Williams, an English actress who plays Sansa’s sister, Arya Stark, responded, “Not today.”
The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday evening.
Politicians have referenced the trademark phrase before. In 2015, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, tweeted “Big News Is Coming” to foreshadow the expected announcement that he was running for president.
Mr. Schaffer, the HBO spokesman, said that apart from Mr. Trump using the phrase, the company prefers that others don’t use it to “promote their own agendas.”
Several years ago, in a series of tweets, Mr. Trump repeatedly calledfor television viewers to cancel their HBO accounts because the network carried the late-night host Bill Maher’s talk show. Mr. Trump had a feud with Mr. Maher at the time.
Musical artists including R.E.M. and Aerosmith have previously asked Mr. Trump to stop using their songs at his rallies. Elton John, whose music Mr. Trump has played consistently at his rallies, told The Guardian in 2016 that he didn’t want his music involved in American politics.
Mr. Trump’s play on the “Thrones” phrase on Friday had a clearly partisan angle. On Friday, his administration reaffirmed sanctions on Iran days before midterm elections.
On Saturday, Turkey’s Tasnim News Agency tweeted what it said was a response on Instagram from Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The general’s poster also used the “Game of Thrones” font, and his message in Farsi read: “Come! We are waiting, I will stand against you. Quds Force will stand against you. You start this war, but we will finish it.”
#Iran’s General Soleimani responded to “gambler”#US President Donald Trump’s announcement:
Come! We are waiting, I will stand against you. Quds Force will stand against you. You start this war, but we will finish it,” Major-General Soleimani, wrote on Instagram in Farsi on Friday pic.twitter.com/fPkcMRIy4s
— Tasnim News Agency (@Tasnimnews_EN) November 3, 2018
The sanctions, promised in May, will target more than 700 businesses, individuals and other entities involved in Iran’s oil, banking, shipping, shipbuilding and insurance sectors. The Trump administration also announced on Friday that it was exempting eight countries from the Nov. 5 deadline for nations to cease importing Iranian goods or face financial penalties.