The popularity and passion it arouses is a mystery to many (to me, anyway), but there’s no doubting that a lot of people really love Game of Thrones.
And the fruity fantasy TV show has lately become a battleground for a debate over online spoilers – the revealing of plot details, in articles or social media posts, before many have seen it for themselves.
The spoilsport in chief as far as GoT fans are concerned is another fantasy hero, Steven King.
His tweet (and, by the way, spoiler alert!) went like this: “King Joffrey: one glass of one too many. See you later, you sadistic little punkass”.
It sparked fireballs of fury from those yet to see the episode in question, whose number included not just non-US viewers, but those in the western American timezone.
And it is just one of a series of spoiler tweets from the novelist, notes Alice Vincent in the Daily Telegraph, that has seen him “embroiled in 140-character disaster”.
Spoilerology has just about formed as a subject in itself. Dustin Rowles of the blog Pajiba writes in a post reprinted by Salon that
There have been countless articles written on the Internet devoted to the rules of spoilers: When they are appropriate and in what venue. Should you wait a week? A day? AT LEAST UNTIL THE WEST COAST HAS SEEN IT? Where can spoilers can be advertised (never on Facebook!) and even the appropriate use of spoilers in headlines.
The issue comes up a lot, naturally. We live in both the Internet age, and in the age of surprise twists, and the two “ages” often conflict. Sunday night’s Game of Thrones (NO SPOILERS) was just such an example: A huge event happened in the episode, and for many people, that event was spoiled within seconds after it happened or — in some cases — weeks, months, or even years before by book readers.
(Some have argued, not very persuasively, that the fact the plot developments already exist in book form makes the alarm at spoilers ridiculous.)
Rowles isn’t personally that bothered by the spoilerage – “The only thing I really get annoyed by are negative spoilers: When someone tells me that something is not going to happen in a particular episode, because takes away the thrill of anticipation” – but he is intrigued as to what makes spoilerers spoil.
I don’t think people that spoil are trying to be assholes. I guess I feel like people want to be able to self-identify with a show and that we live in a culture where we all want to chime in, where we all want to be a part of the conversation, and maybe people who drop spoilers believe that, by identifying themselves with that show, people will gravitate toward them, and social media conversations will be had.
At Jezebel, Madeleine Davies uncalmly exhorts everyone to simply “calm the fuck down about spoilers”.
A good thing to keep in mind is that spoilers don’t have to ruin a TV show for you (and if they do, you probably weren’t really appreciating that TV show to begin with). It makes sense to avoid them if you can … but sometimes that’s not how things work out. Rather than lose your mind or waste your time commenting “SPOILER ALERT” in response to the articles, tweets or Facebook posts that you accidentally stumbled upon, suck it up instead. All of the caps lock in the world won’t help you unlearn what you just read and it’s no one else’s job to protect you from the scary, spoiler-ridden world of the internet.
As for King (Stephen, not Joffrey), he doesn’t seem particularly contrite. A follow-up tweet, for example: “Another spoiler: Romeo and Juliet die in Act 5.”
See also: Binge TV – a small-screen revolution