The Martin vs. Lindelof Feud and the Downside of Twitter


The hype machine for HBO’s new show Game of Thrones has been in overdrive lately, with billboards in several large cities and a food truck giving out free food inspired by the novels. But the reason the show made headlines most recently came because of comments by George R.R. Martin.

Martin created and wrote the series of epic fantasy novels on which Game of Thrones is based, and as part of the aforementioned hype machine he has been doing several interviews over the last few weeks. In a recent interview with The New Yorker, he revealed that he was disappointed in the ending of Lost.

“We watched it every week trying to figure it out, and as it got deeper and deeper I kept saying, ‘They better have something good in mind for the end. This end better pay off here,’” Martin said. “And then I felt so cheated when we got to the conclusion.”

Martin went on to say that he’s terrified of “doing a Lost” and “fucking up” the ending. That one comment caught the attention of Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof, who went to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with Martin.

In a series of mostly facetious tweets, Lindelof began a “Twitter feud” with Martin. He dropped several tongue-in-cheek insults; making fun of Martin’s beard and the length of time it has taken him to finish his next book in the series.

But as the old saying goes, “Within every joke lies a kernel of truth.” And Lindelof’s most significant tweet said, “I don’t take issue with his opinion, I take issue with the fact that he coined ‘Pulling a LOST’ as empirically ‘fucking up the ending.’”

Lindelof clearly was hurt by Martin’s comment, and probably is a bit defensive about the ending in particular because even some avid Lost fans expressed displeasure over it.

And in an interview with EW.com, Lindelof revealed that he had been in the middle of reading and enjoying Martin’s books. So it was probably a special blow to the ego to have someone he admires criticize his work.

But when Lindelof took the fight to Twitter, he created a storm that has continued to get bigger by the day. Several media outlets picked up the story – the Los Angeles Times termed it a “geek war” – and fans across Twitter started drawing lines in the sand. You’re either with Martin or Lindelof.

And that’s the problem. Twitter often can be interesting because you get direct access to celebrities and their thoughts, but the masses are an over-reactionary bunch.

Lost fans are a notoriously … let’s say passionate … sort. They treat the show more like a religion than a piece of well-crafted fiction, and the ones who supported the ending have grown even more fanatical because of others’ negative reactions.

The fans still firmly in the pro-Lindelof camp have taken it on themselves to start a movement basically condemning Martin and boycotting his works. Across Twitter, fans are joining together and trying to get people not to watch Game of Thrones.

Twitter creates a unique environment in which fans feel like they are buddies with the celebrities they love. Because they have so much personal access, they feel the need to jump to the defense of the people they follow.

But the result is something I’m sure Lindelof never intended. He even admitted in his interview with EW that he still will watch Game of Thrones and likely will love it. Yet his fans have taken his original complaint a step too far and are now actively poisoning other people against Martin and his work.

I take no sides in the actual Martin-Lindelof “feud.” I think Martin was asked a question and just answered it honestly, a rarity in Hollywood types and something he may think twice about now. I highly doubt he meant it as a direct insult to the creative forces behind Lost or that he even realized it would get back to Lindelof.

But I also understand Lindelof taking exception and wanting to defend something on which he worked so hard. He poured his lifeblood into that project and it likely will be the defining series of his career, so wanting to make sure it doesn’t become synonymous with “screwing up the ending” makes sense.

The problem is that once Twitter became involved, the results moved out of Lindelof’s hands. From that point forward, his possibly overzealous fans took control.

I realize this is a first-world problem; it isn’t exactly world hunger or Darfur. But Twitter basically has become a high-tech version of “Telephone.” A story gets picked up one place and regurgitated across the Internet, with the content and meaning of the story getting twisted in the re-telling.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of Twitter and how it has affected the proliferation of information, and it can be both a blessing and a curse.

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Filed under Random Observations, Television

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