by Julian Spivey
Spoilers. The pesky little plot tidbits about movies and television shows that are likely the most overblown and controversial aspect of entertainment. Something many viewers seem to dread, avoid like the plague and are willing to start fights – both verbal and even physical over.
I have a few thoughts on spoilers and they all seem to be incredibly irritating to the many – likely majority – of viewers who hope to avoid them.
Let’s start with the only true way to avoid spoilers…
The only true way to avoid spoilers is to watch the thing you don’t want to be spoiled ASAP. If you don’t want a television episode spoiled by someone as soon as it airs or the next day at work by the watercooler than watch the episode live as it airs. I understand this is the day and age when nobody, including myself, watches television live and instead waits to view it on a DVR or online, but people who have seen an episode of your favorite show shouldn’t be expected to keep their traps or social media feeds silent about it just because you’ve yet to see it.
There are a couple of reasons why this should be understood. 1) We don’t know what your television viewing schedules are like and 2) How long should we have to wait before we can talk about something? A day? Two days? A week? A month? Or if you’re waiting for the season to come on Netflix should we be expected to wait a year? This is frankly asinine. Waiting long after the fact to talk about something you’ve seen would frankly make it irrelevant or at least untimely.
If you don’t want a movie spoiled, you need to get to the cinema as quickly as you can to avoid it. If you wait a week or more before seeing a movie you run the risk.
Some people seem to be under the assumption that there is no time limit for when something can be spoiled. If this were the case nobody would ever really get a chance to talk or write or tweet about their favorite television shows or movies. And forget the “spoilers ahead” tags – those may work for full length reviews of television episodes or movies or even possibly verbal conversations, but they don’t work for 140 character tweets where you’re going to see the tag, but also be unable to avoid the spoiler.
It may be controversial, but you are the only one who can truly avoid spoilers. And, sometimes you’re going to have to use extra precaution to do so, especially if you’re waiting a while to watch something. You can’t expect the rest of the world to stay mum for as long as you need them to on television shows or movies. It’s not just ridiculous, it’s frankly selfish. If you don’t want to be spoiled you’re going to have to do things like avoid all social media sites or entertainment websites and forums, because you don’t (and shouldn’t) have control over what’s posted on them.
Blaming others for seeing spoilers – whether you see them directly after a television episode ends or months after the fact – is simply weak. It’s blaming others for your own inability to do your due diligence in avoiding the spoilers. Unfortunately, if you’re spoiled on a TV show or movie it’s ultimately your own fault.
To use an example I believe works better than any other – I’m a huge sports fan and occasionally I have to DVR a sporting event that I want to see because I have to either work or do something else during the event. Sports fans are notorious for talking about sporting events on social media while they are taking place. Because of this when recording a game I try to avoid all things Internet or sports cable channels until I can watch the recorded event. Friends and I will even text each other that we’re unable to watch live so we don’t accidentally text results or moments to one another. If I get on social media or turn the TV to ESPN I’m taking responsibility for the fact that I may have the result spoiled (which is actually way more of an issue than having a specific scene or moment from a movie or TV show spoiled, because the outcome of a sporting event is the entire point of it). It should be no different for people who are waiting to see television shows or movies.
My most controversial opinion on spoilers is that they ultimately don’t make a difference in what you’re watching. Sure, knowing something ahead of time can change one’s reaction to it, it can dim the surprise factor, but what it doesn’t do is affect the quality of what’s onscreen in any way whatsoever. Knowing about something ahead of time doesn’t change the result of it. For instance, knowing what Rosebud is in the classic film “Citizen Kane” (one of the biggest spoiler moments in the history of entertainment) doesn’t change the significance of it.
Our culture has become too concerned with spoilers. It makes sense why it’s something that wasn’t commonplace in the past, but all of a sudden is – because in the past if you wanted to watch a television show you had to do it live and there weren’t social media websites like Facebook or Twitter where one could post their stream of thought about what they were watching. Social media and being able to DVR and watch TV shows online has somewhat made our entertainment culture selfish and at the very least unreasonable when it comes to consuming and discussing our favorite shows and movies. It has basically turned discussing anything other than if you liked or disliked a movie or show without going into details criminal. Isn’t that asking too much of people? Should we really be expected to remain completely silent on our favorite movies and shows until we’re 100 percent certain every single person on Earth wanting to see it has done so?
I think you know the reasonable answer to those questions.