Westworld’s fake spoiler plan would have been a worthwhile social experiment

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Well, that was intense. On Monday, April 9, the creators of Westworld Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy had a Reddit AMA in which they announced that they planned to publish a video that would ruin the whole of the next second season of Westworld. Nolan expressed it this way:

We think about this long and hard, and come to a difficult (and potentially very controversial) decision. If you agree, we will post a video that sets the plot (and the twists and turns) of season 2. Everything. The whole sordid thing. In the front. In that way, community members who want the season ruined can look to the future and then protect the rest of the community and help distinguish between what is "theory" and what is a spoiler.
It is a new era, and a new world in terms of the relationship between the people who make shows and the community that watches them. And trust is a big part of that. We have made our cast a part of this decision, and they fully support us. We are very happy to be in this with you, together. Then, if this publication reaches 1000 ascending votes, we will deliver the merchandise.

Of course, the news was widely publicized, and the fans were passionate on both sides of the debate: would there be enough spoilers available to reduce the craft industry to outperform the series while it aired? Or would it simply be impossible for viewers who are averse to spoilers to prevent trolls from attempting to interfere with their visual experience? However, it turned out that it did not matter: the publication got its thousand votes in favor and, in response, the Westworld crew published … a tailor-made Rickroll.

So, there are no spoilers approved by the creator for you, and we're back to where we were in the first season, with the understanding that fans and critics, trained by the incredibly elaborate treasure hunt of a marketing campaign, will continue to analyze each frame of the show and theorize about each new twist of the plot. But could the spoiler-video plan work? Could the narrative have changed around Westworld? Is that even something we want? We are from different minds here. Let's talk about this.
Devon Maloney, Internet Culture Editor: For me, seeing people online react positively to the prospect of having a whole television season ruined in advance by the showrunners was strange, if not totally surreal. One of the most convincing parts of Westworld as a show has been its mystery. Like The Prestige, which Nolan co-wrote, the structure of the story is based on crumbs of bread that naturally incite the audience to theorize and speculate between them, both during and after the show.
In the case of the first season of Westworld, both fans and journalists did discover the turn (s) before their revelations, but I do not understand the appeal of having the answers in advance because the creators gave them. Is not the trip the whole point? The "revealed" turns online are not spoilers, only theories. Nolan and Joy evoked Game of Thrones to suggest how spoiling the show for everyone could have a positive outcome, because knowing how things would develop in that series was still fun for audiences who had read the books. But that is a false equivalence, because Westworld is not an adaptation of a novel series. People who read the Game of Thrones books still experience the revelations when they were reading. There was an element of surprise for them at some point. And the show was different enough to keep them guessing. So I do not see how the spoiler plan would improve anything. I imagine that it must be frustrating as a creator to get people to immediately discover the elaborate and elaborate twists of the plot. But answering the fun of fanatics theory is to prioritize creators' egos about the way people choose to enjoy their art.

Photo courtesy of HBO

Tasha Robinson, Film / TV Editor: But I do not think they are reducing the ways in which people can enjoy their work, if they are suggesting a new option. I thought the initial plan outlined was clever, because it invited people to consider what they really wanted outside of Westworld, and to choose their own experience, whether that meant getting ahead of the plot, or shutting down the spoilers altogether. It seemed they were pressuring viewers to consider whether they really want all the answers in advance. It seemed like a unique social experiment, the opportunity to try something that had not been tried before. It was an unconventional idea, but that was what made me so convincing.
And he seemed more daring and creative than the program is doing right now. I have been frustrated with Westworld's dependence on drafts and disclosures, especially when the hiding of information from the audience has meant extending the frames after their expiration date. There has been a lot of repetition at Westworld, in places where the plot could move faster. And the endless circle has actually replaced the fascinating ethical questions posed in the first two episodes. There is great commotion and joy in a single turn that changes the game, but when a story is based largely on the value of the download, it also depends on the audience not being able to see certain things coming. And by extending the narrative this has given the fans a lot of time to discuss, debate and see everything that is coming. There have been so many complaints about the culture of anticipation around this program: why not change the narrative completely by undermining people who only care about the destination instead of the trip?
In retrospect, I am ashamed of having fallen for the joke. Of course, the creators are not going to ruin the next season, because that would reduce the number of people who speculate non-stop about the show, which gives Westworld more attention and attention. Is not it more selfish to expect viewers to have these endless debates? Giving away the game and trusting the spectators with these revelations seems much more ego-free than playing the game "You will never guess my puzzle in time".

Photo courtesy of HBO

Devon: As for the excessive dependence of the series on the turns, I do not disagree with you at that point. I recognize that it is exhausting to constantly think about the program along two lanes: what happens on the screen and what theory of the fans can contextualize what is happening on the screen. And the ethical dimensions are little exposed at a time when we need that kind of cultural incisive comments on technology more than ever. (This is the part in which I unashamedly connected Jonah Nolan's previous program, Person of Interest, as one of the most incisive series on AI and technological ethics of this era on television.) Nolan would do well to carry more of the philosophy of that program to Westworld.)
But if turns are the problem, the hypothetical option to spoil those turns in advance seems overcorrected, when the problem could have been solved much more easily simply by changing the format of the show to depend less on those puzzles. With the way things shook in the end, that's a clear possibility: all the cats let themselves out of a very bloody bag, and no turn, in my memory, was left untwisted. We will begin season 2 in the incredibly lucky position (speaking narratively) of a new day for the Westworld hosts. "What will happen next?" It is currently a much less convincing question than "What could happen next?" If the narrative directs us back to the first one, that raises a more essential narrative problem. But if we are going to choose these structures of enigmatic stories, to keep people paralyzed and talking about the show, and really, what is the meaning of a puzzle, if not to solve it? – To spoil them in advance defeat the whole purpose.
Tasha: Actually, I expected the full-season spoiler treatment to be a clue that this season depends less on surprise boxes and "surprises," and more on execution and exploration. A spoiler like "Dr. Ford is still alive, and he sent a duplicate of his host to be killed in his place" blows a lot of secrecy and configuration. (Disclaimer: I have not seen any of season 2 and I have no idea if this is true, but I would not be surprised if it is). But it is much harder to spoil something that is not based on a reversal of gotcha, such as "Dolores and Maeve meet and have a deep conversation about what they believe about their own nature." The revelation of Ford would be a secret, and seeing it coming has the impact it could have had. In the case of that possible Dolores / Maeve scene, you would still have to see it to get the value, because everything is in the way the characters respond to each other, in what they learn from each other and in how their beliefs and states Mental issues emerge in storytelling. If you knew what was coming, that would be a spoiler, but in reality it would not ruin anything.
Personally, I am quite averse to the spoiler. I tend to avoid trailers and early interviews, except when my work makes it impossible, and the endless speculation about what's going on in a given program bores me, because it gets in the way of enjoying what is really happening while it's happening. I like surprises. So I suspect that I enjoyed the full season spoiler plan mainly because it was going to be a surprise. Would it have had the effect that they were supposedly looking for, with people who speculated less because the answers were already available to anyone who wanted to look? You were not curious about how it might work?

Photo courtesy of HBO

Devon: I like surprises too, but I value the surprise of knowing what fan theories were more accurate than the surprise of how a full season spoiler could play. In any case, fans may choose not to interact with external talk and marketing. (However, I can relate to having to go to rabbit holes as a cultural journalist when I would prefer to avoid them as fanatics). For me, however, the difference is that the full season spoiler would eliminate the possibility of pure speculation for those who do want to talk feverishly between friends and fans every week.
Technically, that congregation would still be possible with the MegaSpoiler. (It must have a name, is not it? Just spitballing.) But the existence of the MegaSpoiler would devalue or answer the questions that many people want to keep asking until the characters answer them on the screen. Normally I do not like to advocate extravagance when I talk about the culture of the fans, but the potential move that Nolan and Joy threatened to make here simply shouted me magic assassin – it inspired a sense of genuine, almost visceral terror in me that a show I enjoy so much I could eliminate something that I would come to see as more or less integral to its appeal.
Tasha: That's the difference between us, so, I do not see all the speculation as an integral part of the series' appeal. I see it as a lot of people trying to be smarter than the creators in getting ahead of them, and a lot more people who distract from the show by spinning a million imaginary alternative universes where it's something completely different. For me, everything feels like a straw that gets in the way of seeing the show. And the part of me that wanted the MegaSpoiler was probably seeing it as a cool breeze blowing straw. As human nature is what it is, it probably has not reproduced in that way at all. However, I hoped to discover how the conversation would change. I recognize that this is only my prejudice, and if people genuinely enjoy playing the game of speculation, I have nothing to object to. It seems counterproductive and frustrating, even if I choose not to participate, the old argument "if you do not like it, do not read it", it still extends to my conscience in many ways, in social networks, or comments from sites, or RSS headlines , or whatever. It is difficult to avoid
Spoiler's culture has affected our works in strange ways: now I routinely receive emails that say: "Here is a filter for a movie or a TV episode, and here is a list of things that happen in it that we do not want you to talk about. about. "Basically, public relations people are ruining their own programs to tell us how not to talk about their shows. I wanted to see if it was possible to completely interrupt that culture, or if people really enjoy speculation so much that they would completely ignore the MegaSpoiler in order to continue playing the game that sees it coming.
I think we only come from opposite angles in this case. Any last idea?
Devon: I'm interested in how it was delineated between the "spoiler" of Ford and the "developer" of Dolores / Maeve. Obviously, the best scenario would be that a smaller number of unique turns like the Ford "spoiler" would make the MegaSpoiler. in itself less disappointing or "spoiler", but it is already clear that reality will involve many boxes of surprises. An ad like this undoubtedly painted a very vivid image in the minds of the many people who enjoy this show, so I wonder what he invented for you. In his mind at that moment, what was that MegaSpoiler like?
Tasha: Oh, there are already many good online examples of what a full season recap looks like. Just check on YouTube "everything that happened on [show name]" or "[showname] summary of the season", and you'll find a whole industry of people who summarize the seasons. I thought it would look like Westworld's recap of season 1 of Vanity Fair, only with plot points we had not yet seen. But maybe he would not have looked like that at all. Maybe it would just be a video of Jonathan Nolan being carried through a crowd, like Charlton Heston at the end of Soylent Green, shouting: "Peter Abernathy will come back! And he will be a samurai this time! And he will take over Shogun World in the finaooode episode! "


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