'Game of Thrones': Why Is This Show Never Spoiled? (Opinion)

In an Internet age ruled by spoilers, it's remarkable that we can still be surprised by events on HBO's hit fantasy series -- despite the fact that George R.R. Martin's novels have been out for a decade.

We live in the Age of the Spoiler. Today's Internet seems to exist for only two reasons: to create ever more GIFs of Tom Hiddleston playing with kittens and to reveal every piece of information about a movie or TV show as soon as humanly possible. Script leaks, casting rumors, costume tests, long-lens on-set photos, bootleg trailers, torrented screeners … There are whole industries that thrive on the dissemination of information that shouldn’t be disseminated.

And in the geekosphere, it’s even worse. Generations of feeling that nothing has been created for “us” -- of being ignored by the mainstream and forced to trade fragments of salient information via newsletters, fanzines and bulletin boards -- has given way to a rabid sense of entitlement. Like Veruca Salt, we want to know and we want to know now.

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Everyone wants to know who’s in the new Star Wars movies, or what’s in Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight script, or what’s happening on the Avengers: Age of Ultron set. And what’s more, the darker corners of the Internet -- which, to be honest, is most corners of the Internet -- take great pleasure in being the ones to spoil. Knowing a secret is not nearly as fun as spilling it.

Which is what makes the attitudes surrounding Game of Thrones all the more astounding.

There seems to be an unwritten compact governing the show based on George R.R. Martin’s epic saga: Nobody say anything.

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Witness the mania that swept the population surrounding the infamous Red Wedding sequence from last season’s “Rains of Castamere” episode. The events of the Red Wedding first appeared in A Storm of Swords, the third in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which was published in 2000. That information had been sitting there, unmolested, for 13 years before the episode aired. The book was translated into 25 foreign languages. The world knew what was going to happen … but didn’t say a word.

And it’ll happen again. There’s a thing coming, early in the fourth season of Game of Thrones, that is momentous in both its shock and affect. And when I saw the screeners, I was amazed, once more, that the Internet didn’t ruin it for me, as it ruins so many other things.


Maybe it’s because this information isn’t a precious commodity -- it’s there for anyone with a decent search engine (or Bing, I guess). Or maybe it’s because those who’ve read the books -- and I am steadfastly not one of them -- want to vicariously relive these pivotal moments through the eyes of the unsullied. (Which would explain that wave of videos shot by readers when their friends/loved ones first watched the Red Wedding episode. Even Martin quipped, “Now you know why your nerdy friends were depressed 13 years ago.”)

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Or maybe it’s because pop culture gives us so few things to rally around, to bond with on an ongoing basis. Lost was the last great “watercooler” show to hit the airwaves and since then -- since streaming, time-shifting and cord-cutting took hold -- TV viewers have been hungry to share the kind of surprise, horror and joy that great TV can deliver.

And, apparently, when that great TV comes along, we wanna keep it pure.