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The GoT Red Wedding: Can you keep a TV secret?

Posted by Joanna Weiss  June 7, 2013 07:04 AM

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Peter Dinklage_ photo HBO.jpg
At war? Or watching the Red Wedding?


Last Sunday's "Game of Thrones" episode marked a milestone in the history of addictive TV: the point when the Internet proved it could keep a secret. Viewers of HBO's "Game of Thrones" finally got to experience the Red Wedding, a devastating scene that -- one more spoiler alert -- killed off a bunch of major characters at once. And here's the remarkable part: Readers of the book series "A Song of Ice and Fire," on which the TV show is based, knew what was coming for years, and didn't tell.

As a Globe editorial points out today, the Red Wedding was a victory for the Internet code of ethics that has built up around TV secrets. But in an age of binge watching, rampant tweeting, and Netflix series dumps, not everyone agrees about when it's safe to speak. Do you try to avoid spoilers? Do you take pains to protect your friends? Or do you think that once something airs, it's fair game? Below are some thoughts on spoilers,TV culture, and the infamous Red Wedding. Add yours to the comments below, or tweet at the hashtag #spoileralert.

We passed the test

In an age of delayed viewing and instant reaction, some spoilers are inevitable. But Web denizens have developed an informal code of ethics over how to handle knowledge of plot twists, both before and after they’ve aired: which secrets are worth protecting, and how; when to expect an open conversation. “Game of Thrones” has been a grand test of this “spoiler code.” And this time, nearly everybody passed.
Boston Globe editorial

How to protect a plot turn

matthew gilbert.jpgAfter the “House of Cards” episode dump, most of my conversations about it went something like this.
Me: “Have you seen ‘House of Cards’ ”?
The other person: “Yes! But don’t say anything, I’ve only seen three episodes.”
Me: “OK, bye.”
Matthew Gilbert, @MatthewGilbert

When is it safe to speak?

A Storm of Swords, written by George RR Martin, was published 13 years ago. And how can it be possible to spoil something that has already aired on television? Is a genuine spoiler the leaking of a plot detail before a show or movie has been screened, or is it when your mate down the pub – or a national free newspaper – tells you about it?
Metro, a British newspaper that published details of the Red Wedding on Monday

all spoilers.jpg

The magnitude of this one

Good job, Internet! From the very first episode of the show, I can imagine that every single person who had read the books had the same thought: "Oh, man, I can't wait until they drop the Red Wedding on everyone." And yet we kept it in check and didn't tell our friends who hadn't seen the show. I'm trying to think of another time when a spoiler that big has been known by some but unknown by others. Like if, before Star Wars Episode IV came out, a subset of the audience already knew that Vader was Luke's father. And then, years later, Empire finally came out…
Kirk Hamilton, @kirkhamilton

It's good to be spoiled

Many of us go to extraordinary lengths to avoid learning the endings of stories we have yet to read or see...But we're wrong and wasting our time, suggests a new experimental study from the University of California, San Diego. People who flip to the last page of a book before starting it have the better intuition. Spoilers don't spoil stories. Contrary to popular wisdom, they actually seem to enhance enjoyment.
Science Daily, August 11, 2011

How Sarah stayed spoiler-free

th.jpgSunday night I was reviewing the Luke Bryan concert with that constant low-level sense of dread familiar to anyone devoted to a buzzed-about TV show: "Someone is going to spoil 'Game of Thrones' (and 'Mad Men') for me!" Either I follow the right people or the word has finally been spread that spoilers are not welcome, but I was amazed that beyond the rampant "oh my god!" responses neither anyone in my Twitter feed nor any of the book readers who knew what was coming spilled details on the "Red Wedding." Yes, I knew something was coming but it was a treat to make it over 24 hours without knowing just what it was.
Sarah Rodman, @GlobeRodman
Globe TV/music critic


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