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Speculation on Spoilers: LOST Fandom, Narrative Consumption & Rethinking Textuality

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Presentation for MIT5 Conference, paper written by Jonathan Gray & Jason Mittell, April 2007; full paper forthcoming on participations.org

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Speculation on Spoilers: LOST Fandom, Narrative Consumption & Rethinking Textuality

  1. 1. Speculation on Spoilers: Lost Fandom, Narrative Consumption, & Rethinking Textuality Jonathan Gray & Jason Mittell forthcoming in http://participations.org
  2. 2. Key question: Why do fans read spoilers?
  3. 3. Key question: Why do fans read spoilers? Conducted online qualitative survey in May 2006 Solicited on fan boards & email list 179 completed surveys - 150 “spoiler fans”
  4. 4. Extra-Textual Pleasures
  5. 5. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans consume spoilers as a game in and of itself, a contest between fans and producers
  6. 6. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans consume spoilers as a game in and of itself, a contest between fans and producers • Not substantiated by survey
  7. 7. Extra-Textual Pleasures
  8. 8. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans are anti-fans, resisting the pleasures of the text in an oppositional manner
  9. 9. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans are anti-fans, resisting the pleasures of the text in an oppositional manner • Not substantiated by survey
  10. 10. Extra-Textual Pleasures
  11. 11. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans seek the communal relations of the spoiler-circulating community
  12. 12. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans seek the communal relations of the spoiler-circulating community • Relevant, but not primary motive
  13. 13. Extra-Textual Pleasures
  14. 14. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans regard the spoilers themselves as enjoyable texts to be studied and parsed
  15. 15. Extra-Textual Pleasures • Spoiler fans regard the spoilers themselves as enjoyable texts to be studied and parsed • Looking for “foilers” is pleasurable, extending paratexts beyond weekly episode
  16. 16. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story
  17. 17. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans seek pleasure & comfort of the known, enabling enjoyment of familiar text on first viewing
  18. 18. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans seek pleasure & comfort of the known, enabling enjoyment of familiar text on first viewing • Tempered by regret; rereading aesthetic
  19. 19. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story
  20. 20. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans see plot revelations & suspense as minor pleasures, obscuring more enjoyable textual qualities such as narrative mechanics, romance, & production values
  21. 21. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans see plot revelations & suspense as minor pleasures, obscuring more enjoyable textual qualities such as narrative mechanics, romance, & production values • Suspense & mystery still central; operational aesthetic
  22. 22. Reasons to Primary Reason to Pleasures of Spoiler Fans (n=150) Watch Watch I want to discover the answers to the island's mysteries 91% 28% I enjoy the suspenseful plot 90% 24% The show surprises me 77% 1% The show is unlike anything else on the air 75% 9% I find it exciting 71% 3% I enjoy the innovative way the show tells its story 68% 9% I am interested in the philosophical issues raised by the show 60% 5% I like to discuss the show on websites or with people I know 59% 1% I find some of the actors attractive 54% 0% I want to solve the show's puzzles before they are answered 51% 3% I am impressed by the show's production values 43% 1% I am invested in the relationships that exist or that could form 38% 4% between characters The show makes me laugh 37% 0% It's a ritual that I watch with friends or family 33% 5% It reminds me of playing a game 31% 1% I find the show to be a good distraction from my own life 31% 1% I want to see the characters escape the island 22% 1% I want to be able to relate to other people I know who watch it 21% 0% I find it scary 18% 0% The show makes me cry 13% 0% The show reminds me of other programs I enjoy 10% 0% It teaches me something useful about the world 9% 0% Other (please specify) 2% 3%
  23. 23. Most significant pleasures (more than 2/3 responding) • I want to discover the answers to the island's mysteries • I enjoy the suspenseful plot • The show surprises me • The show is unlike anything else on the air • I find it exciting • I enjoy the innovative way the show tells its story
  24. 24. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story
  25. 25. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans view Lost’s narrative practices differently from traditional stories, using spoilers to participate in a puzzle-solving quest
  26. 26. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans view Lost’s narrative practices differently from traditional stories, using spoilers to participate in a puzzle-solving quest • Spoilers as additional clues to be discovered within game logic; adding to & extending mysteries
  27. 27. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story
  28. 28. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans take control of their emotional responses and pleasures of anticipation, experiencing suspense on viewers’ not creators’ terms
  29. 29. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans take control of their emotional responses and pleasures of anticipation, experiencing suspense on viewers’ not creators’ terms • Heighten suspense & anticipation; reduced surprise & curiosity; strategy for managing serial form
  30. 30. Pleasures of the Spoiled Story • Spoiler fans take control of their emotional responses and pleasures of anticipation, experiencing suspense on viewers’ not creators’ terms • Heighten suspense & anticipation; reduced surprise & curiosity; strategy for managing serial form • Continued on http://justtv.wordpress.com

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