A long time ago in a galaxy not so, far away…
It is a dark time for Who fandom. Although the season six premier has been aired, a few journalists and fans have rooted show secrets from their hidden scripts and posted them across the internet.
Evading the dreaded SPOILERS, a group of purists led by Steven Moffat has established a new secret keeping method called the honor system.
The evil Lord Spoiler, obsessed with finding the tiniest tidbits of information, has dispatched thousands of search engines into the far reaches of the internet….
It sounds a bit over blown and over dramatic, just like the movies, but Steven Moffat’s passion is for real.
The Doctor Who show runner isn’t a fan of fans who post spoilers online. “You can’t imagine how much I hate them,” the writer said after crucial plot details of the series six premier were revealed on the internet. At the press launch for the new series last month, Moffat pleaded with journalists not to spoil details of the two-parter, which was packed with surprises and revelations, a request to which they largely conceded.
But one fan who had been invited to the screening posted the entire storyline on an internet forum. Moffat told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s only fans who do this, or they call themselves fans. I wish they could go and be fans of something else. It’s heartbreaking in a way because you’re trying to tell stories, and stories depend on surprise. So to have some twit come to a press launch, write up a story in the worst, most ham-fisted English you can imagine, and put it on the internet? I just hope that guy never watched my show again, because that’s a horrific thing to do.”
There’s a balancing act between a fan’s desire and reality, to know everything they can about something they are passionate about, versus becoming so “in the know” they can no longer enjoy the object of their passion. Part of it is the role of mass media today. Between television, the internet, Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, etc… human beings are wired in more than ever before in the history of the planet. News and information circle the globe in a flash, picked up and re-broadcast by legions. Spoiler news is no different. When something leaks, and people’s natural response is, “Did you hear…” it’s tough to stay pure and un-spoilt.
But part of it is the dark side of fandom. Those who relish in showing off how plugged in they are, how much they know, and how quickly they can get it. I liken these fans to Paparazzi, laying in wait for a juicy tidbit in 4-inch high heels to walk by, then ambushing their subject and posting the results on line.
And, I’m forced to admit, that once upon a time, I was one of the jackals. I worked for Suncoast Motion Picture Company back in the day, (it was a Tuesday. Not sure if you knew that, but “back in the day” ALWAYS refers to a Tuesday.) Anyway, I dealt with a lot of people, and a lot of information. And I found that the more information I had, the more I was sought out. I was in demand. People came to ME to get their news. It was a very heady feeling. I liked being needed. So I devoured more information and passed it on. I never consciously ruined the end of movies or anything, and any true spoilers were always tempered with “are you sure you want to know?” as if those seven little words made what I was doing okay.
**** SPOILERS AHEAD. (Old news for almost EVERYONE on the planet at this point, but just be warned so I don’t accidently ruin something…)
Eventually the game caught up with me, when a customer presented me with an advanced copy of the script for “Star Trek: Generations”. Now I was all for some advance knowledge, but the script? Surely that was overkill. But I gave into the temptation, and flipped through the book. Not reading it, just flipping pages. And what two words did my eyes seize upon? KIRK DIES. This was before the flap and hubbub, before the world knew this was even a possibility. And of course, it ruined the movie for me. The big emotional moment of the film left me hollow, cause I already know it was going to happen.
I started shying away from entertainment news at that point, but still got hit with several, (Excitedly picking up the soundtrack to “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” two weeks before the movie came out and seeing the track “Qui Gon’s Noble End” listed on the back. D’OH! Lucasfilm struck again and showed a “spoiler free” 10 minute sneak preview of “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith” at SW: Celebration III in 2005, but I felt there was about 30 seconds worth of scenes that I didn’t need to see. Someone told me Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince before I’d read it. And I missed finding out the surprise twist at the end of “The Sixth Sense” by mere seconds, and only because I plugged my fingers in my ears and started screaming at the top of my lungs.) I mean, who does that? Especially knowing that people haven’t seen/read/listened or whatever yet? That’s like walking out of “Empire Strikes Back” and commenting on Vader being Luke’s father. (Thanks Homer.) Or what if you read TV Guide the week after the big cliffhanger, and found out who DID shot J.R.?
Even currently, I had two elements of Neil Gaimen’s wonderful episode spoiled. The episode title “The Doctor’s Wife” made the rounds on Twitter a month before the episode aired. (In hind sight, not so bad as it was a bit of a Red Herring.) But then I found out about the TARDIS taking over a body the day before the episode airs, and suddenly the title makes sense and… DAMNIT!!
**** END SPOILER SECTION
So here comes “The Impossible Astronaut” in a special premier in the US. And here’s the show runner, and author of that episode, live and in person on stage, pleading with the audience to NOT ruin the surprise and to keep the story under wraps. And then this guy goes and posts the ENTIRE plot online?
Way to go, Jack-hole. Not only have you given all of us a bad name and reputation, but you’ve seriously jeopardized future screenings like the one you were fortunate enough to attend.
I completely support Steven Moffat in his battle to keep things secret. As a writer myself, as media person who does write a blog and record a podcast, but mostly as a fan. Because, while yes, there is a part of me that does want to hear the news, the larger part of me enjoys the journey enough to say,
That’s okay, I’ll find out in due time….
…of course, if everybody rigidly adhered to that philosophy, Doc Brown would have died at the end of “Back To The Future”.