Game of Thrones: A Fandom Fraught with Frailties

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.  In what was essentially a protracted series finale, and something of a rough draft for what would eventually become Spider-Verse, Spider-Man had to gather together his superheroic allies from Earth like pieces on a chess board, and use them to fight Earth’s mightiest villains (the prize: a spot on a multidimensional spider-Man team-up to take on Spider-Carnage).

In a crucial moment, a nigh-omnipotent Doctor Doom is told to give up his newfound Godhood.  He turns to the assembled heroes and demands “And which of you would give up your powers if asked.”  Earth’s mightiest heroes sheepishly look away.  Regardless of if they were X-Men, Fantastic Four or independent operators, they all knew that their powers were part of who they were, and they would be loathe to give them up.

But, of course, there’s Spidey.  He steps forward and proclaimed “I would.  Because I’ve learned, time and time again, that with great power comes great responsibility” – responsibility, of course, that God-Doom lacks.  And that is what makes that Peter Parker the ‘ultimate’ Spider-Man: the only one worthy to lead a team composed of, well, himself – the first among equals.

I’ve said it before on TVOvermind and I’ll say it again: with great fandom, there must also come great responsibility.  After all, when the Russo brothers asked us to not spoil the Endgame, we listened.  We took it upon ourselves as a group – as a fandom family – to bite our tongues for just a little bit and keep the movies secrets so that other people who have spent years working up to this point could enjoy the movie the same as everybody else.  Or, put another way:

Fandom isn’t just about liking or talking about the same things, it’s about coming together as a community in the light of some great, shared love.  And while not every fan will love everything about the fandom, as a community it is our responsibility to be good to one another, to try to come together and do what needs to be done for the sake of everybody.  After all, a wise man once said “with great power, there must also come great responsibility.”  It is no less true for a community joined together for a shiny new blockbuster as it is a community joined in commiseration over the loss of Notre Dame.

And, thankfully, everybody seemed to step up, understanding the small role that their silence had to play in millions of fans’ enjoyment of the movie.  It was a wonderful little moment in popular culture – and, in all likelihood, a shrewdly calculated ad campaign on Disney’s part to get people to come together about their latest product – but its lessons seems to have been forgotten while that very same movie has been in theaters.

At the same time that Endgame has been tearing up the global box office, HBO’s Game of Thrones series finale has been commanding the small screens of our living rooms.  Based on the long-running (and still unfinished) book series by George R. R. Martin, you would think that the same coming-together, spoiler-free moment of nerd fandom would apply.  After all, it’s not like all of us can watch it on day one, and it’s not as if quite a few fans have been trying to hold off on spoilers until the books proper come out.

And yet, this has absolutely not been the case.  Whereas Endgame was under a virtual self-imposed media blackout for weeks after it debuted, it has been nigh impossible to be able to avoid detailed, obvious and omnipresent Game of Throne spoilers immediately after – and, in some cases, while – the episode airs.  Twitter Timelines, Facebook Newsfeeds and even the very titles of major news outlets’ articles have spoiled every last detail about this show.  I have known each and every week every character that has died, who has killed them, what major character arcs have resolved, what out-of-character betrayals have gone down… EVERYTHING… all while, in typical fashioned, I actively avoided spoilers everywhere I went.  My friends and I made a point to make sure that everybody had seen Endgame before saying anything that so much as bordered on possible spoiler territory, no matter how small, and now many of those same friends are freely revealing major plot and character details at the drop of a hat.

It bears repeating – here and everywhere hereafter – that you should not spoil the endgame of any story like this.  It’s common courtesy, it’s making sure that people can maximize their enjoyment of the movie or show or book that they’ve dedicated so much of their life to absorbing.  So please, remember this as the final episode of Game of Thrones gears up, as Spider-Man: Far from Home prepares to hit theaters… as literally anything of fandom-sized proportions hits our collective eyeballs… don’t spoil the endgame.  Be a responsible fan and have a heart for the poor folks out there just trying to make it through until they can see it before they learn what happens.

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