The return of Game of Thrones for a seventh season after nearly 14 months away should have been a triumphant moment for fans everywhere.
But instead, pretty much all anyone was talking about the next day was the sight of Ed Sheeran, dressed as a knight, eating a squirrel on a stick.
Then came the arrival of Christopher Nolan’s Second World War epic Dunkirk, a sprawling cinematic tour de force that ranks among the filmmaker’s best work to date.
And yet, again, while there was plenty of praise for Nolan, far too much time was taken focusing on the presence of One Direction’s Harry Styles and his foppish new hairstyle.
In both instances, the presence of Sheeran and Styles has dominated the social media coverage surrounding Game of Thrones and Dunkirk and proven something of a distraction from the main event.
And herein lines the main gripe: that Sheeran and Styles are unwelcome distractions, ones that take you out of the fictional universes so carefully constructed and ultimately detract from the power of the overall film or show.
It’s made worse that Sheeran and Styles are passable actors at best, skating by on their star statuses rather than their suitability for the roles at hand.
Put it this way: would either Game of Thrones or Dunkirk have been improved with the casting of a young actor or unknown in their respective roles? The answer, whether you care to admit it or not, has to be yes.
In fact, in could be argued that by casting them, viewers could be missing out on seeing a young acting talent earn their big break.
Things could be about to get even worse too, with the scene-chewing Lady Gaga returning to the American Horror Story TV franchise for another series that’s likely to find her stealing scenes for all the wrong reasons once again.
And all of this feeds into the wider issue: musicians need to stop trying to make it as actors in the world of television and film.
There are exceptions to the rule of course – the likes of Justin Timberlake and Will Smith or Cher have been dab hands at both from an early age.
But for the most part, pop stars who have turned their hand to acting have been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
Sting, David Bowie, Madonna and Rihanna to name but a few have all tried and failed to turn their hand to acting, and all have proven unwelcome impediments to the projects they were involved in – Madonna actually found a way to make the lamentable James Bond outing Die Another Day even worse.
Some simply can’t shake off their star persona. Others simply cannot act their way out of a paper bag. Styles probably falls into the former, Sheeran undoubtedly the latter.
Styles’ performance is manner, all exaggerated grimaces and bellowed lines, like a drama school graduate auditioning for a part on Coronation Street but secretly eager to remind everyone he was once in a boy band.
Sheeran, for his part, treads a fine line between confused and vacant before starring in arguably the worst scene in Game of Thrones history – they actually let him sing and play a guitar, it’s a wonder the resulting song wasn’t available for download on iTunes after.
No one is enjoying these forays into film either. It’s rare for a pop star to find sustained success in the world of film and, those that do, are rarely at the cutting edge of movie making.
And now it must stop.
Pop stars need to take a step back and cherish the things they do have – fame, fortune, an abiding talent for writing and singing catchy, radio-friendly tunes.
To try and branch out smacks of arrogance and delusions of grandeur – in what other lines of work would this kind of move occur? How many electricians taking up plumbing because someone asks them to?
Okay, maybe that’s not the same thing, but the point still stands: musicians are an unwelcome distraction, unbalancing carefully put together productions and blocking the route to success for other more talents actors.
Pop stars rarely enhance a film, but instead, detract from it and it’s time this stopped – because it’s clear that few, if anyone, would care all that much if it did.
If the saying is true and in the Game of Thrones you win or you die, our only hope now is that the Hound puts Sheeran’s character out of his and our misery sooner rather than later.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.