Spoiler Cues from the Source

By | Thursday, October 27, 2022 Leave a Comment
Towards the end of the day yesterday, I popped over to YouTube to kill a little time. Right at the top of my home page was a thumbnail for a video detailing all the Easter Eggs in the latest episode of Andor. While I'm not subscribed to that particular channel, it is the type of thing I would watch; however, I had completely forgotten it was Wednesday and the new episode had dropped early in the morning. While I don't really participate in Star Wars fandom, there's enough overlap with comics fandom that I would've expected to see at least some mention of it on one of my social media feeds.

By contrast, I made a point of watching the past weekend's The Power of the Doctor Doctor Who special because I knew it would be spoiled if I even came anywhere close to social media between when it dropped and when I watched it. And I knew that because it's happened to some degree with almost every episode over the last several years. And it's not just zealous fans or jerks who enjoy spoiling things for people, but I've had a couple of major reveals spoiled by the BBC themselves. This time, I watched it as soon as I got up and it was a good thing I did, because my timelines were splattered with screen shots of people who were going nuts over this cameo or that one.

Now, granted, the latest episode of Andor was considerably more sedate and understated compared to Power of the Doctor but as I've said, I've had plenty of other Doctor Who stories spoiled for me in the past. And that's depsite taking precautions like muting keywords and people I know are hard-core fans.

So it got me thinking about how different fandoms act, and how that's almost always a direct result of the people producing the content they're a fan of. I can't recall the last time I accidentally stumbled across a spoiler for any Marvel comic I've read and these days, I'm often months behind on them. The Marvel movies I might get spoiled on, but I almost never go to the theater to see them, preferring to just wait until they're streaming, which is often months later.

Some of that, of course, is simply a matter of numbers. The number of people watching Doctor Who far exceeds the number of people who buy Fantastic Four regularly. Power of the Doctor garnered somewhere north of 4 million viewers, but the FF comic has been in the 40,000 ballpark every month. So yeah, that alone makes it more likely I'm going to come across DW spoilers. But that doesn't tell the whole story.

All of these stories, regardless of the medium, have some degree of surprise to them. Why would you bother reading/viewing/listening to them if you knew precisely what was going to happen? But if you've got the producers themselves dropping spoilers within hours of the release, as the BBC has repeatedly done, that gives fans tacit permission to do the same. By contrast, the folks putting out Marvel comics rarely let spoilers leak out and fans abide by the same rules. The MCU is somewhere in between as spoilers do leak from time to time -- mostly by virtue of the media blitz they put actors on -- but they do try to clamp down on them. (While formal sanctions are almost never mentioned publicly, I can guarantee many of the MCU actors were expressly told to make fun of Tom Holland's penchant for dropping spoilers to try to shame/embarass him in front of everybody.) Consequently, we do see spoilers for the MCU, but not quite as rampantly as other properties.

In my book, I talked about how fans take cues about what are the most desirable fan traits from the creators, either directly or by extension through the media itself. Their approach to spoiers is no exception.
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