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Thoughts on "spoilers" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Thoughts on "spoilers"
I know I've hit this before a couple of times, but I keep running up against it. I do not seem to be in the current cultural milieu on the subject of "spoilers." I don't even like the word.

So, I watch a lot of reactors. My favorites are After Show Reacts, Van, Daeny, Liam Duke, and Arvin. It's fun to see how people respond to things that they don't know the outcome on, and I'm all for not saying things like "In the last episode, Buffy's going to call on the Martians, and they totally come through for her."

Though I may say that, just sarcastically. But is it a spoiler to say that there are no Martians on Buffy? In the current fashion, that would actually be considered a spoiler.

Most of what is called a "spoiler" is actually a "teaser"--meant to increase interest, not "spoil" a plot point. Previously ons are meant to pique interest in what's to come. "Hey... Faith's in these scenes. OMG... Faith!" Not to mention that not only would that not have been hidden, it would have been advertised for a week as a reason to tune in for people who maybe had tuned out on the Initiative plot.

To "spoil" something is to make it pointless to watch it because you already know everything that matters. It's a standard mystery plot when someone tells you "the butler did it." It's a movie that depends on a twist for its impact having the twist revealed.

Though honestly, a twist movie that can't survive a second viewing doesn't have much going for it. In fact, knowing the twist should make the second viewing better than the first.

Saying, "There's a butler in this show" is not a spoiler. Even saying, "There's a butler played by Major Movie Star" isn't a spoiler. Maybe he's the killer. Maybe he saves the day. Maybe he's a Martian in a twist ending. What he certainly is, is an advertising point to get you to tune in. Knowing he's there is not "spoiling."

And it's gotten worse. People literally went into a frenzy when someone "leaked" the title of the next Avengers movie, because... honestly, I have no idea. It's a title. It's a a title that riffs off a line in the movie that was already out. And it's a title that says nothing other than what you can pretty much already tell at the end of Infinity War: The next one is the endgame.

I absolutely can't make sense of that. Are all movies now supposed to be called "Movie" and advertised with blank posters? How do you know which one you're buying a ticket for? (Actually, that might be a fun promo for a theater for a weekend: Blind date with a movie, only a rating given so you know whether or not you can take the kiddos.) All of those pre-movie things are designed to be part of the experience of the movie, for God's sake.

Sigh. I admit, my first experience of someone trying to protect me from "spoilers" was when I was six and reading Little Women, and my mother teased about how good it was about to get, refusing to tell me anything else so I could "discover" on my own how amazing it was. Needless to say, going into Beth's death unspoiled and expecting a treat was... not a high recommendation for not getting forewarnings. Even, "It's going to be sad" would have been enough. But "Ooo, I'm not going to tell you, I want you to be surprised!!!!" Grrr. I have been leery of "surprises" ever since. Usually with good cause; they're almost always bad.

But mostly, I think what gets me is that there are very few movies, books, or tv shows that can actually be "spoiled" by knowing even important details, since most of those just have to do with the plot. Most of the good ones turn out to be even better once you know how they end, because you can see the whole thing. And you can then talk about it, which is the point. I like reactions, but responding to them, I feel like I have a gag in my throat... over shows that have been over for years and sometimes decades, and talked about at length.

I don't know. Something about the whole culture just rubs me the wrong way.
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Comments
matril From: matril Date: December 18th, 2018 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I completely agree. A movie whose entire enjoyment rests upon The Shocking Twist is a once-and-done thrill, cheap and gimmicky. I've had movies "spoiled" and still enjoyed them greatly -- and repeatedly -- because it's not the basic beats of the story that move me; it's the execution of it.
princesselwen From: princesselwen Date: December 18th, 2018 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was still shocked by the 'No, I am your father' twist, even though I knew it was coming!
rusta_wilwarin From: rusta_wilwarin Date: December 29th, 2018 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is so very well-put. People that claim you're posting spoilers by posting a movie trailer or gifs of a movie trailer annoy the crap out of me. It's so excessive and just implies the end product is weak. I've never understood how we got to the point we're at with this.
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