In 2017, spoiler culture is in full swing.
Unless you keep on top of the latest shows chances are you’ll have them ruined by some sad act on Twitter or even by publications that just can’t help themselves.
It’s odd how people seem more eager to reveal and discuss spoilers for certain shows. When Breaking Bad’s final season was airing weekly on Netflix, fans seemed to be respectful and simply enjoyed it as it happened. Likewise, when the streaming service puts entire seasons of Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, or Stranger Things up, there appears to be an unwritten respect for audiences and spoilers don’t find their way into unsuspecting folk’s Facebook feeds. As testament to this, I never once saw anything that spoils the above, so why does that not apply with Game of Thrones?
Official findings suggest either you or a close friend will, at some point, have had a Thrones moment prematurely revealed. I’m obviously making these ‘official findings’ up, but I challenge you to find a fan who hasn’t stumbled upon or had a spoiler rammed down their throats.
But the spoiler culture around the HBO show is rife. Seriously, people cannot seem to help themselves.
And it’s not just selfish people on social media that get a kick out of sharing massive twists (often shocking, unexpected deaths) into the public domain. It’s like standing on a packed tube and screaming out that Jon Snow is murdered at the end of season five – why would a person do this?
Aside from social media going into meltdown over fan theories, revealing cast interviews, general speculation and – until recently, at least – the smug book-readers who knew what show watchers didn’t; it seems even the big media outlets enjoy ruining people’s enjoyment, too. Remember when commuters got angry at Metro for publishing spoilers of The Red Wedding just days after it had aired? They aren’t alone in how sites and print media report on Westeros, that’s for sure.
Outlets see it as a necessity to offer up episode reviews, fan theories, and in rare instances outright reveals of some of the show’s monumental events. Personally, I don’t think it’s right or in fact needed from a fan point of view. But in a click-driven world where online media relies on readership and daily traffic, anything Game of Thrones-related usually does the business. And yes, I’ll admit, I’ve written plenty of articles on the programme myself; from theorising how it’ll all end, to episode reaction pieces, to features. But what I’d never do is include images, taglines, or details that spoil it for others or actively try and ruin it for myself.
So what is this obsession with fans wanting to know the ins and outs before it’s been on?
Only last week HBO released a number of stills from season 7. Why?
And why would anyone want to see images from a show they’re definitely going to watch that thrives on its revelatory twists and turns?
What would encourage a person to go out of their way to remove said surprises?
When it came to the teaser trailer, I’m fine in holding my hands up to say I took a peek. It’s a great promo, but significantly (and as per other season teasers) it reveals NOTHING other than what we already know: Cersei, Jon, Daenerys, and the Night King all have their eye on the Iron Throne. Whatever you read beyond that is up to you.
Yet, actual still from the episodes are something totally different.
As a Twitter Moments went up with said images and a plethora of giddy fan reaction, I had to restrain myself from a) getting angry, and b) flicking through the entire Moments out of morbid curiosity. I half-read one entry that said something like ‘I can’t believe Daenerys is really at the-‘ before I stopped myself. Already people were picking up on locations and subtleties; piecing together portions of the season’s narrative.
To me, seeing characters – both old and new – in familiar, new, or recognisible locales from the GoT world is too much. Witnessing who meets with whom, and where is a problem because it reveals which characters liaise and what they’re potentially up to.
If there’s a photo of Daenerys anywhere other than on her ship, marching the warpath, or in King’s Landing, then that ruins the suspense of her journey. I don’t need that. I want it all to be a brand new information as it happens.
If only we could experience Game of Thrones with the respect that some other shows are granted where spoilers are concerned then I’d certainly be a lot happier and less scared about visiting social media on the air dates. It’s worth remembering that just because a show has been on, it doesn’t mean everyone has seen it and isn’t a green light to tweet ‘OMG JOFFREY IZ DED OMGGGG!!!1!’.
Life doesn’t work like that.
More importantly, there’s even less reason people will have seen it when it airs in the US (at 2am on a Sunday), so you’ve definitely no excuse to ruin things.
In short, and regardless of my above rant and mild hypocrisy as a Game of Thrones writer, I won’t be checking out any stills of season 7. I won’t be searching online for spoilers or fan theories as the show airs, either – I was unfortunate enough to do this during Westworld and truthfully it ruined the big twists for me.
From now on it’s all about the enjoyment of experiencing Game of Thrones as it airs, without the internet tweeting the moment someone dies within seconds o it occurring – and believe me, lots of people actually do this for some inexplicable reason. My advice: just don’t.
Do you enjoy Game of Thrones spoilers of do you avoid them like contact with greyscale? Share your thoughts below…