I’m not going to spoil anything new in this post. I make reference to The Sixth Sense for instance, Harry Potter, Empire Stikes Back, Citizen Kane, but things nearly everyone knows. I’m steering well clear of anything remotely new, whether it’s Captain America: Civil War or… you know. The show that for a while, everyone agreed to stop spoiling.
I do want to talk about what’s happening all over the internet though. That is to say, otherwise perfectly reasonable people accidentally spoiling things. Including a disturbingly high percentage of you reading this.
So, spoilers suck, I hope we can all agree on this. Obviously it is fine if you are the type of person to actively seek them out for your own ends for some reason. I do know of actual real human beings that exist who deliberately seek out full plot details before watching TV shows or movies. I don’t understand why they’d do that, but then again I value unpredictability extremely highly when watching a film or what-have-you.
“Hey kid, did you know I’m a ghost? Someone told me on the way in, it really changes the experience.”
While it’s certainly possibly to thoroughly enjoy something where you know exactly what’s going to happen each step of the way, there’s something special about being caught off-guard in a well-written way. It doesn’t have to be a massive plot twist for the time, like the Darth Vader = father reveal, or the end of the Usual Suspects. Hell, even before the internet made plot leaks commonplace, to keep a twist under wraps you needed to do stuff like keep it a secret from even the actors in the scenes involved!
So what’s happening now? It’s not quite the infamous Snape moment outside of a crowded book store that went viral. People aren’t quite spelling things out so blatantly. (those people are obvious villains, and will do whatever they want regardless)
Still brings a tear to the eye.
No, what people are doing recently are making not-so-cryptic comments that by themselves might not give anything away, but in the context of the rest of the world also dropping subtle, but different hints, ends up being a spoiler. People might not even realise they are being spoiled, until a certain phrase is repeated and they can’t ignore it. You can’t un-see things after all. Someone might be hinting that there is an unexpected romantic coupling without mentioning who it is… meanwhile someone else you know is commenting ‘I’m pleased for [character], not saying why though’.
Even if you only get some of the spoileriffic hints, not enough to know in advance of the show starting, you end up being spoiled half-way through the show. A statement that makes no sense in a vaccum suddenly obtains new meaning, and the outcome of a tense situation suddenly becomes obvious and all tension is lost.
I don’t think people realise the cumulitive spoiling effect of these vague comments. For all the previous big moments that various people and websites haven’t spoiled, I am quite sure the intention is to ‘react’ to a certain thing without spoiling.
Here’s what it’s like, using an old plot twist. Imagine Citizen Kane was just released, and throughout the day you observe seemingly innocuous things, but together…
Some people: “Man, I can’t wait to sledding this winter.”
Other people: “It makes me really thankful to have others around me.”
Yet more folk: “It’s important to remember that money isn’t everything.”
Etc.: “I’m so glad I kept my favourite toys safe in my parents house.”
Once or twice seeing any of these statements, you might just think someone is being wistful. See a dozen comments along those lines, then you won’t be able to see the film through the same lens. You might still enjoy it, but you won’t have the same feeling from watching it “pure”.
Instead of ‘Ohhhhhh’ you go ‘yeah, I realised it from the first scene’.
I am lucky enough to be in a position to quickly watch something, so I personally wasn’t spoiled much on anything lately. It’s fine for me to close Twitter, refuse to look at Facebook or Imgur or… well any website really until I see something if I really need to.
Not everyone can though, sometimes people need to message others on Facebook or Twitter, or you see Skype statuses or for some mysterious reason people at work start parroting chatacter catchphrases while others talk about how they feel today, after watching an episode.
So yeah, I know it’s hard not to react to certain things. Even if you’re well-meaning, just try not to unless you know the people reading you either already know or don’t care. People form the links in their head automatically. The more popular the show, the smaller window a person can reasonably expect to exist without being spoiled, but it shouldn’t come at the hands of their friends, less than 12 hours of a show airing.
I hope at least, maybe I know nothing.