The Spoiler Police

Steven Moffat went mad this week and in a moment of blind rage destroyed every remaining episode of Doctor Who Series 6 as retribution for the inconsiderate leaking of The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon spoilers on the web…

…or so you would think judging by the over-reaction of some fans and websites.

Only today one extremely prominent fansite was defending its use of clips and trailers provided by the BBC and BBC America by marking them as “spoiler free”. However, this is clearly balderdash; not that the website in question is taking a spoiler free attitude, but that they’ve been forced to by an over-reaction in fandom.

First things first: Steven Moffat was well within his rights as the public figurehead of Doctor Who production to criticise any individuals that were fortunate enough to attend the preview screening of the first episodes of the 2011 series who went on to leak the key spoilers across the web, especially given that he had quite reasonably requested that people keep it under their hats.

Sadly the disregarding of this request from the man who makes Doctor Who has overshadowed this week’s build up to what promises to be a very memorable episode. Not only that, but the persons concerned are under the misapprehension that they are somehow “better” fans than anyone who hadn’t seen those episodes, taking the chance to spoil the surprises online in the most cynical and pathetic way.

I’ve been a part of online fandom since the 1990s and I’ve seen a hell of a lot of nonsense; this counts among the classics.

However, when websites are having to defend their use of clips for fear of material that can be described as a “spoiler” – even if it is released and approved by the BBC – then we start getting into nonsensical territory.

If the BBC or whoever have released images and video content for use to promote a broadcast, it is not a spoiler as far as they are concerned. There are websites out there who take pleasure in breaking embargos on photos and press releases from prominent magazines, which goes to demonstrate that some people are more interested in getting in with a scoop rather than delivering anything substantial.

However no website should have to defend its use of approved material. Ultimately it is down to the individual fan to recognise what they want to know and what they don’t want to know before an episode airs and either make the decision to stay online and risk finding out stuff they would rather have avoided or take a few days away from the web and tune in at 6pm or whatever time and enjoy the surprises.

Sites like Kasterborous, as noisier voices in fandom, can guide the fans and let them know what might be a spoiler, what might give them too much information when combined with other material they might have seen; ultimately it is up to the reader.

While we might have poked fun at Steven Moffat earlier this week, he was right to take the leakers to task on Radio 5 Live, but whoever is marching the web prodding websites with sticks and accusing them of revealing spoilers is going too far in the wrong direction. The only logical next step for the Spoiler Police is to prevent the BBC from broadcasting the episode!

Let’s put this load of old nonsense behind us and enjoy The Doctor’s Wife on Saturday.


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