**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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…