I'm not quite ready to review the last Potter book (notice how I haven't quite lived up to my other self-imposed reviews. Must structure time better...). However, this time last week the issue of spoilers came close to rivalling, if not overshadowing, the book's impending release.
Fans asked that people keep the details to themselves. J.K. Rowling asked that people let those who have waited ten years for this book find out how it ends on their own. Bookstores, newspapers and online newsletters made pledges that they'd avoid spoilers. And yet, when it came down to keeping that promise or getting the scoop, many chose the scoop. Most often, in the follow-up apologies sparked by the fans' outcry, the contrition has an asterisk - "We're-sorry-but..."
"We're sorry, but we didn't think any of what we said was a real spoiler."
"We're sorry, but why are you even reading reviews if you don't want to know what happens?"
"We're sorry, but this is news."
The parties in question seem genuinely surprised that anyone got offended, including at least one industry publication which sent out its newsletter with Harry's fate in a headline and quickly sent another message warning people not to open the first one.
And of course, all over the internet, people are gleefully spoiling the books - threads on forums with plot twists in the titles, sneakier ones where the subject seems innocent, but the message inside holds the revelations. What's the point of it? I suppose the cynical answer is simply that some people are jerks. What I really need to do is rephrase the question.
Why is it that this series in particular draws such maliciousness?
Is the amount of people looking to ruin the ending for others disproportionately large, or does it just seem like there are more because of all the hype and because the series is so successful?
I don't remember anything like this happening when Stephen King finally released The Dark Tower VII. I never felt like I had to hide myself away from message boards and media in the days and weeks leading up to its laydown. Granted, the audience for the Dark Tower books is very different - you probably wouldn't want your ten-year-old doing a book report on it. (I read The Gunslinger for the first time when I was twelve. My mother was afraid one of my teachers would see me reading it and take it away.)
When the season finale of Battlestar Galactica aired, I was away from home and the hotel didn't get Sci-Fi. It was only a day's wait for iTunes to make the episode available, but I wasn't worried that anyone would post the names of the Final Five on any websites I frequent - at least, they wouldn't post them without hiding them behind spoiler warnings. I know that, again, the audiences are very different between Battlestar and Harry.
Are there any better examples? Did this happen with the last Lemony Snicket book? What other series might have the same potential for asshattery in the future?
Still mulling this over. Thoughts and theories welcome while I better flesh out my own.