The Internet is Dark and Full of Spoilers

 

**WARNING GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS AHEAD**

Game of Thrones is without a doubt one of the most popular TV series on television today with season 7’s finale having over 16.5 million viewers. These numbers become more impressive as we realize that Game of Thrones is also the most pirated show of all time. The show has gained such popularity because of its complex plot, sophisticated visuals and terrific acting. But the series special ingredient relies on one element: surprise. Which is why I want to talk about why social media is killing GoT.

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As an avid fan of both book and show who’s watched more than his fair share of youtube  analysis on GoT, what really sucks people in is the unexpected. The shows first defining moment is the killing of what you are thought to think is the main protagonist. Following his death, one assumes the story shifts to the end to a tale of vengeance for his son and their people. The series iconic moment comes of course during the fabled red wedding – where that journey for justice comes to a sudden and tragic end.

What made this moment particularly beautiful is despite this plot-point in the book was never really divulged to mainstream fans. It caught so many people off-guard and book readers were smart enough to film their friends live reactions — resulting in some of the best youtube videos of all time. Unfortunately, in recent years this element of surprise has been stripped from GoT by the internet and as an avid fan, I’m hoping to draw some light on this issue.anigif_optimized-12293-1424565799-11.gif

There are two main reasons social is killing GoT, the first and most obvious of which is the hackers. For example this year Iranian hacker Behzad Mesri was able to infiltrate HBO’s systems and gain access to private material including but not limited to the scripts of shows and the actual episodes themselves. After HBO failed to meet his demands of 6 million dollars in bitcoin, Mesri released the episode “The Spoils of War” online. What really makes me irate was that despite my ability to stay true and loyal to HBO and wait for the episode to release, the plot and twist ending was spoiled to me because someone who did not have such self-control had made a Facebook status discussing it, one that happened to pop up on my newsfeed. What made it worse is an avid fan I follow several You-tubers who cover GoT related material (RedTeamReview, Emergency Awesome & Preston Jacobs to name a few) all of whom released early analysis and commentary on the episodes leak because if they didn’t they’d be a step behind their competitors. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened either, as season 5 of game of thrones actually had the first four episodes leak in their entirety. When-Your-Friend-Walks-Restaurant-Annoying-Dude-Went-Home-Last-Night.gif

The second and, in my opinion, more significant way that social media is killing GoT is through its biggest fans and the media – specifically those who wait outside sets and manage to capture and release footage well before the season is set to release. Before season 6 was released a fan happened to film a battle sequence of what turned out to be “The Tower of Joy”. What makes this tragic is it helped to spoil the biggest twist of the entire series, the parentage of Jon Snow. Special shoutout to all the book readers who were waiting from 1996 for this information. Again, fan websites – specifically the Watchers on the Wall – gave this leaked footage over-exposure and brought it into an almost unavoidable mainstream light. It’s one thing to stay off the internet for a day if you couldn’t catch the most recent episode at release, it’s a whole other deal to try and avoid such spoilers that are being revealed months and months before. This actually caused production teams during season 6 and 7 to film fake scenes simply to throw off the scaveging media and personnel. That means both actors times and most importantly the shows resources are being wasted fighting social media, rather than giving the fans what they want, like the CGI that brings us our beloved dire wolves.source.gif

Humor aside, lack of resources to produce such characters helps contribute to certain plot holes that have plagued the show since season five – another reason GoT seems to be losing its touch. Even now as we approach the last season, the internet has been ruthless in its attempt to cover anything and everything on season 8 production. Take for instance  this article which reveals some of Cersei’s season 8 plot lines (http://watchersonthewall.com/category/spoilers/).

Now I know most of you are probably thinking that a great way to avoid spoilers is to simply avoid most GoT related websites. But that in itself is a travesty because the world is so immersive and these websites really help to place fans in the world of Westereos, Essos and Sothoryos. Didn’t know the series didn’t just take place in Westereos? You’re missing out my friends. Another really fun aspect of GoT is the crazy theories that the fan base comes up with — including but not limited to the idea that Jon Snow and Meera Reed are in fact identical twins and that Peter Dinklage’s most recent Doritos commercial actually was meant to tease the ending of the series. These while silly, are something that many fans love. Inability to check these websites for fear of spoilers, not to mention those with which you cannot control such as a friends facebook status, really are taking away from the show the world has grown to love.

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So what do we do to preserve what makes the series so special? I’m not 100% sure but first and foremost we as fans need to stop checking leaked material, and the media needs to stop publicizing it. Beyond that we need to stop our innate desire for immediate gratification that has become ingrained on us as the internet  becomes more and more accessible at our finger tips. It can result in a degradation of things as important as accuracy of news all the way to the minuscule but important emotional impact an unsuspecting plot twist can have on us. The 6th sense wouldn’t be a Hollywood classic if we knew immediately that Bruce Willis was dead the entire time – and Game of Thrones wouldn’t have the fandom it earned today if we all knew how easily the Starks were to kill. We must as a collective whole stop the spoilers to preserve the entertainment we’ve grown to love.

If you don’t…

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9 comments

  1. I can totally relate with you on this one. I personally don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I have seen that its tough to keep the outcome of any sort of show like that a secret. I have watched series before where I learned the hard way that social media should be avoided if you miss an episode. It is so easy to accidentally come across spoilers these days that its almost unavoidable. To solve this, maybe its not the we should stop checking spoilers but that people should stop posting them.

  2. This was one of my favorite blogs so far. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan. Although I don’t go into the websites about the theories, my friends and I discuss them at length. Full disclosure, my roommate found the streams and we had to watch them before the premier. I hate how social media ruins the fun with spoilers but I do love to see how passionate people are about the subject. From everyone that I’ve watched with, and spoken to, I tend to find that watchers of the show love it because the surprise you’ve discussed in consistent throughout the show. Additionally, it provides an escape from the real world, and that escape is tarnished or even taken away all together with the spoilers.

  3. I’m not a Game of Thrones watcher either, but I understand your frustration. I especially liked your point on the innate desire for immediate gratification. These days, with the help of services like Netflix, we are so used to being able to binge-watch shows that we forget how to have patience. And, as you mentioned, it raises the question of whether or not those who post leaked material/spoilers are doing so with the goal of internalizing the episode’s event or just to prove completion.

  4. First of all, your GoT wordplay throughout is spectacular. Bravo. Secondly, I couldn’t agree more that this is a frustrating reality of social media’s ubiquitous nature. I am an avid user and community member of a website called Imgur, the sister site of Reddit, where this is an issue talked about frequently. What’s interesting about Imgur is that frequent users rally together and pledge to “downvote” spoiler posts into “oblivion” in order to protect the front page from unwanted spoilers. It is a fascinating example of strangers coming together around a common cause to protect other whom they have never met. All in all, it is very successful as I have watched many an unspoiled GoT season and Star Wars movie after spending time on this site daily. I guess there is still some good left in this world after all.

  5. I am also a Game of Thrones watcher but I have not become a fan like you. Social media platforms are a very powerful tool but so many people are involved in these communities that it is hard to control what happens on these platforms. I personally didn’t watch the GoT episodes as they came out and I was very careful to avoid websites and links that would lead me to spoilers. It is also a matter of timing because everything in our Facebook timeline keeps changing on a daily basis so what are the chances that we’ll see that post at the exact moment we’re scrolling down our feed?
    I think the solution to this is a collective effort on the internet to stop people from spreading these links containing spoilers. However, what is the incentive for people to collaborate if they have exclusive content that will benefit the views on their sites?

  6. Loved this post, as a huge fan myself I wasn’t strong enough to hold back from watching the episode before the premiere. The second my friends and I heard they were released the online searches began. However, I was a bit ashamed of myself after I watched them.

    I think there is little that HBO can do to help protect themselves from early releases rather than the steps they have already taken. Besides increasing the level of security on their work files I don’t see how they can keep people like Behzad Mesri from infiltrating their systems. As the biggest show on television spoilers are bound to come out and I think because of that the task falls on the individual to avoid spoilers at all costs. Even if that means going off the grid till they watch it.

  7. Nice post. I actually stopped reading the books, because I found that when I got ahead of the show that it was far less enjoyable. I’m not sure SM is “killing” GoT, since it only has 8 episodes left, but the points above are still valid and applicable elsewhere.

  8. Do you think its because of the popularity that social media began to ruin the show? With such a strong fan base and such a large series of the books are there going to have to be spoilers and things ruined for the fans? I wonder if you look at shows that aren’t doing so well if you won’t find as many spoilers. I think since GOT is at the top of many peoples minds it comes up on my social media and that’s where I risk a lot of spoilers. I wonder if there is a way to prevent this because people are always going to spoil shows and the GoT producers can’t really change the culture amongst their fans. Even the fact that you can watch the series online right after it airs on HBO which could be a way to prevent spoilers from happening for people hasn’t seemed to work because some people are busy and can’t watch it right away. When in doubt keep your hopes up high and your head down low and avoid social media until you are caught up I guess.

  9. I really enjoyed reading your post and fully agree with most of it! That said, I want to play devil’s advocate for a moment and suggest that maybe the abundance of spoilers and leaks increases user engagement and interest in the show. Considering how much it’s talked about and spoiled online, it’s basically impossible to avoid seeing Game of Thrones and other popular shows being mentioned on the internet. As much as it isn’t in the spirit of enjoying the show as it’s meant to be enjoyed, it does generate buzz and publicity in such a way that might promote more people to start watching the show or at least get excited for the episode.

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