Topic: How to Deal with Spoilers in Today's World
Yesterday, the producers of Westworld trolled some people on Reddit. If you want the full background, here's an article on it:
What I'd like to talk about is the idea itself. The letter posted to Reddit actually makes some compelling points. In a world of crowdsourcing ideas on places like Reddit, harmless theories can actually create massive spoilers. It's a problem faced by many shows, and it's actually altering the content itself. Sam Esmail (creator of Mr. Robot) actually de-emphasized a big twist in season two because he figured that people would figure it out before he was ready to unveil it. He was right: viewers figured out the twist, with the limited knowledge they were given, in the season 2 premiere....five episodes before they were going to reveal the twist.
Westworld itself had a massive twist that was figured out weeks before it was revealed. And for twists like this, it isn't only online nerds that get it spoiled for them. I heard the twist from several different people, and I passed it along to many others. It was a cool twist, and it was fun to talk about with other fans of the show. One theory spread to many people via many mediums.
And what's interesting is that a theory isn't a spoiler by itself, and it usually isn't treated as such. If you posit something as "I have an interesting theory about _____" instead of "Hey, this is what I read about ______" then people are apt to believe it.
So what do you do? Do you alter your content so that mysteries aren't important (see: Star Wars: The Last Jedi vs the mystery boxes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens)? Or would you actually do something like release the content ahead of time so that spoiler-seekers or curious minds don't ruin things for other people? The rationale that Game of Thrones book readers didn't spoil the plot for non-readers is true. Curious non-readers could've easily read the books themselves or read summaries to know what happens to certain characters. The plot was out there if people wanted to look, and there was no reason to "theorize" what happened (and if one did, there was an easy way to verify).
It was played as a joke by Westworld, but I wonder if the reaction to it (that it was a genius move in a post-Reddit world) might influence other shows to actually go for it? After all, is it a bad thing to ruin the show for people who want the show ruined? Especially if, at the same time, you can save big reveals and epic surprises for people who legitimately want to be spoiled?