Who did Negan kill? Well we aren't about to find out anytime soon if AMC has anything to do with it, having just issued a cease and desist letter on 'The Spoiling Dead Fans' Facebook page. In a spoiler-laden world you have to either watch a show as soon as it airs, or go into hiding. You don't want to be that one person who said "they killed Ned Stark?!?" three years after everyone else. Whilst spoilers can be frustrating, there is obviously a market out there and some of us can't help but read ahead. The Spoiling Dead Fans may have started from humble beginnings, but rose from the grave like so many of Greg Nicotero's walkers to reach an impressive 363,000 followers. At the forefront of The Walking Dead community, it has become a regular stomping ground for those who don't want to wait until October to find out who met a grisly end in the Season 6 finale "Last Day on Earth." The page (and its fans) were shocked the other day when a representative of AMC got in touch saying that if they were to post any spoilers, or even theories on who bit the dust in this year's season finale, they would be well and truly sued by the network. We caught up with 'Shinyfirefly', our own TWD deep throat, to find out why the two sides have gone to war. It is Alexandria vs. the Saviors and only one group will come out alive!
How did AMC get in touch, and is this the first time you have heard from them?
AMC sent its first communication to us via my TSDF email on June 7. We have never heard from them personally before. In the past, their investigator (Jason Smolanoff) tried once to reach us through site email as well as contacting a few of our members on their cell phones (one was a minor). He even offered my (then) co-owner exclusive cast interviews if we’d sell out the owners of another site and our sources, which we refused to do. I responded to Mr. Smolanoff’s email and told him to quit harassing our members and never heard from him again. Other than that it’s been through third-party legal processes.
Moving forward how will AMC's decision affect you?
I think that’s too early to make a decision on. Right now this issue concerns one detail – the Lucille Victim. We consulted counsel for this one item. After we received the cease and desist, in three days Mr. Wilson made no less than 12 attempts to contact us through our family members, workplaces and public social media. Their cease and desist letter didn’t even request a response. But since the attempts weren’t going to stop, we prepared a response. We have a lot of research and consulting to do before we determine how or if this will change the way we operate in the future.
How do you feel now that you can't even air your personal thoughts on who will meet Lucille?
Honestly? We are angrier at the tactics AMC has taken more than the fact we can’t make our Lucille prediction. Why? AMC doesn’t seem to grasp that the information doesn’t come FROM us, it comes TO us. I comes to us in many, many different ways. It doesn’t matter if we post it or not because whoever has it figured out will find somewhere else to post it. And if that happens, it may not even be under the cover of a spoiler site, it could go out to the press for all we know, which would be worse for AMC. We are not condoning that, but at this point we have no control over it. I’m not sure, but I think they believe that the only way we figure things out is by illegally obtaining information, but that’s just not true. Regardless, we agreed not to post what we think we know and not to assist anyone else with posting what we think we know either. And that’s what we’ll stick to.
A part of me wonders if they truly realize the creative mistakes they have made and how they have mishandled their audience this past season and are looking for someone to blame for some ratings decline in this upcoming season. Look anywhere on the ‘net and you’ll see plenty of disillusionment after that finale. That had nothing to do with us even though a lot of that episode was spoiled too. People still tuned in.
What do you think about the whole spoiler culture?
There’s been some interesting studies about spoilers and the finding that they actually increase a person’s enjoyment and make the story better.
Like anything, people will agree or disagree with that. We have had people message us and thank us for our updates because they have some anxiety issues and couldn’t watch otherwise, or parents with children who want to do some due diligence on whether or not their child should watch a certain scene or episode, and then there are people internationally who can’t see the show until it comes out on DVD and they simply just want to know what the heck is going on. During filming, some people just like the thrill of being an armchair detective. Some people are so totally invested in this show that it’s like seeing the fate of a family member unfold and it truly affects them. Spoiling isn’t going anywhere. We are in the age of lightning fast information and saturated with social media feeds. The same unique opportunities networks have now to get their marketing hype and buzz out about their show is the same opportunities we use.
What has the fan response been to TSDF?
Our fans are extremely loyal and supportive, as are fans of many spoiler sites and groups. Even though our viewership is about 400K, that’s a small number in terms of total viewership. But wow, are they vocal. Are all our fans pleasant in voicing their opinions? No. We’re known for our sass and snark as well. The reactions have been varied and you only have to look at our site or page comments to feel their intensity. We love our fans and right now they’re angry. What is surprising is that our fans can range from 16 year olds to 70 year old and cover all walks of life. It’s a great demographic and sparks some really fascinating discussions. In this situation with AMC I think it resonates with our fans because it is another instance of corporate power pressing their thumb down on people. They are just trying to have some fun.
If you were Negan, which character (past or present) would you have Lucilled?
Not going there, lol. No matter what we say it will be taken as a confirmation (unfortunately).
Well, it was worth a shot!
Is there anything you would like to say to AMC?
We are not unreasonable people. We are fans of this show who root for its success. Their ratings have consistently increased over time and we enjoy helping our fans keep that show on the tips of their tongues through the off-season. Is that to say they wouldn’t have increased without us? No. But they also aren’t decreasing because of us either. The people who seek spoilers watch the show anyway and the people who don’t seek spoilers are watching as well. Dictating how someone should enjoy a show denies them the opportunity to absorb the story in a way that suits them best. Being condescending and dismissive of that fanbase serves no great purpose.
So, how do you feel? Clearly AMC are a little 'miffed' at the existence of TSDF's Facebook page, but ultimately spoilers are always going to get out. Should the page close it doors, or keep rambling into the night like the undead they worship?