A Tale Of Two Spoilers
posted 9 years, 9 months ago. by Audibly Lost to Damon Lindelof, DarkUFO, DocArzt, Interviews, Speculation, Spoilers

[Author’s Note: There are no Lost spoilers contained in this article.]

When, if ever, is it ethical to post detailed spoilers about the biggest plot twists on Lost? I am in no way attempting to answer that question, but I am trying to show that there are seemingly logical reasons for several arguments regarding major Lost spoilers.

Last year, someone by the name of Lostfan108, spoiled the big twists of the Season 3 finale. Andy Page, of DarkUFO, ultimately re-released the same spoilers and, due to the popularity of his website, became the primary source of the material for many readers and other spoiler hunters.

Andy explains his motives:

“They were posted by Lostfan108 directly into an open discussion forum at AICN, without any warning, causing choas. They were then deleted but the cat was out of the bag. Lostfan108 told us we could post them but if we didn’t by a certain date he would release them into the wild. We then slowly reposted the spoilers to try and limit the damage and to give people warnings that these big spoilers were about to break. We released them in snippets over a 3-4 day period.”

The backlash from DarkUFO’s decision is now widely debated. Some claim because of the spoilers the Lost creators backed away from talking to fans over the hiatus. However, Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of Lost, speaking just after the season ended last year, denied that their lack of willingness to talk to fans resulted from the spoilers.

“Honestly, the reason for the silence is we don’t want to tell the audience what to think about where the show is going to be next year.”

“Next year” is now, and a similar scene is playing out across the internet. Andy has posted details of the Season 4 finale on DarkUFO and what followed was seemingly a bit chaotic. For example Lostpedia, the popular Lost wiki, was victimized by vandals spoiling other users about next week’s finale. They have now locked their spoiler section and prevented new users from registering to the site as defensive measures to prevent the thousands of users that edit the wiki daily from unintentionally being spoiled. Part of this preventive measure, on Lostpedia’s part, was due to alerts from DarkUFO that the spoilers were eminent. Unlike last year, the spoiler details were directly released through DarkUFO. Andy told me that this was partly done to help other websites, like Lostpedia, curb people from ruining it for those who did not want to be spoiled.

“I personally would rather Lostfan108 did not release the info at all, but once he does it’s not going to stop him. We tried this year to give as much warning to users and fellow Lost sites/message boards to “batten down the hatches” so to speak.”

The preventive measures seem to have worked, to a degree, as Lostpedia’s actions show. Many Lostpedia users were still spoiled unintentionally, which is something that Andy, from my impressions, would in no way be happy about. Jon Lachonis, “DocArzt” of DocArzt.com, also posts spoilers about Lost on his blog.

Jon told me that as far as spoilers are concerned “If it’s been in a preview, it’s fair game.” That seems to be a very different mantra to that which Andy is using for his choices regarding spoilers. Jon elaborates.

“If you’re out there with an exclusive, the only reason you are running it is to enhance your business.  Now what separates something like Star magazine from Entertainment Weekly?   Star doesn’t care who they hurt when they publish their exclusives, Entertainment Weekly goes for a more complimentary and collaborative approach.”

Notice Jon uses the word “hurt.” He again used the word when referring to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s opinions of spoilers.

“Those are two very nice guys who are way more geeky about this story than we are, you can hear it in their voices, and who wants to hurt them?  And it does, it hurts them to put so much effort into creating a unique viewing experience for us, and the spoilers just reduce it to a pantomime of what they originally intended.”

Jon thinks that the readers have their impressions of the show pre-determined by the opinions that spoiler leakers, in this case Lostfan108, have on an episode.

“It creates a false impression of the episode.  It’s like somebody walking into a gallery, looking at a painting, then going and telling someone about it.  They’ll have an emotional impression of that person’s reactions, and they’ll only know the subtleties that he remembered.”

Andy and Jon’s stances may seem almost opposite, but when you start thinking about the bigger picture they may not be. Both are huge fans of Lost. They each say they love the show more than they’ve loved any other TV show. At the end of the day, I’m sure they both would tell you they do what they do out of love for the show.

The two have kind words for each other as well. It is my understanding that they consider each other friends, albeit friends with slightly different viewpoints when it comes to spoilers. Neither of their sites simply focus on spoilers. Each have insightful reviewers posting articles about the show. Each have enthusiastic communities that go hand in hand with their sites. And the message boards that accompany these communities have many more discussions about theories, easter eggs and Jater/Skater arguments than they do about spoilers.

Spoilers aren’t going to disappear by any means, and the community seems to be evolving with this idea even more as the seasons pass. I wouldn’t be surprised if by Season 6 the release of the episode synopsis about the final episode of Lost would be something that was coordinated by many sites, to ensure that those who want to read it can. And those who don’t want to read it, don’t. Lostpedia’s actions this year seem to be a step in that direction.

Is it ethical to post these detailed spoilers? Many will say yes. And many will say no. Either way they exist, and it is up to the community to embrace this fact as elegantly as possible to ensure the best viewing experience for everyone involved.