What the hell is it with people who complain about spoilers online?

First off, I’ve never felt that knowing some detail or other before reading a book or seeing a movie has ever “spoiled” it for me.

Bad directing, that’s spoiled movies for me. Plenty of movies. Bad acting? Sure! Bad writing? Oh, too many, believe me.

But knowing ahead of time, that somehow usually doesn’t bother me. It certainly doesn’t “spoil” the experience of the film. Maybe it’s because the majority of films are so predictable anyway. I’m developing a sense that most films are made the way newspaper articles are written: for the reading level of a 12-year-old. Most films these days have very clear hints for almost everything, and very few twists take me by surprise anymore. Sometimes, I say, “Ah, that option. Okay. I think it might go the other way,” but I very rarely say, “Oh my God! I never saw that coming!”

Or maybe it’s because, frankly, it matters much more to me how stories are told than what the content of the story is. There are very few truly original stories to begin with, and most of those have not made it into film anyway, so as far as I’m concerned, if we’re telling the same stories over and over, it’s how it’s told that determines whether a movie is good or bad. And all the adjectives in the world—dark, edgy, bleak, triumphant, jarring, silly—cannot spoil that because it’s purely experiential. Like if someone said, “Oh, Guernica, it’s really chaotic…” Would that spoil the painting for you? Only if you’re a moron.

Lastly, I have to say that people who haven’t seen a film shouldn’t go about on the internet, looking at articles and reviews about the movie, if they’re likely to find that learning information about it will “spoil it” for them. It’s juvenile to make such a big deal out of it, it’s juvenile to expect other people to warn you when they’re going to discuss something in depth. I am writing my website for you, but at the same time, I am writing it for many people, and for people who will come to it later.

So if you don’t want a film or book spoiled, don’t read a review of it. Skip it and come back later. And if it’s a good film or book, it’s good for more reasons than just the odd plot twist or surprise thrown in, and the “spoilers” won’t “spoil” it for you at all.

2 thoughts on “Spoilers

  1. Well, I am one of those spoiler-hating people, so I thought I would speak up on it.

    I really enjoy stories. I read a lot, watch a lot of movies, and I even write some. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the telling of a story, in getting it just way the teller wants it to be told. That includes things like holding back information until the appropriate time, whether it be five minutes ino the film or on the very last page of the novel. In that respect, the teller of the tale gets only one chance at this, because the pacing or surprise of anything is radically different between the first reading/viewing and the subsequent ones.

    But if someone else reveals those secrets ahead of time, then the teller has forever lost that chance to tell the story the way he wanted to. He can never get that back. These days, almost everyone sees Citizen Kane knowing what “Rosebud” means, so Welles will never be able to tell them that story the way he meant to.

    I just believe in letting the teller of the tale tell his story the way he meant to, not the way someone else wants to tell it themselves.

    Now, personally, when something like that is on the horizon (e.g. Revenge of the Sith), I have been known to restrict my exposure to possible spoiler sources. I’m responsible for my own experience, so I take charge of that. But I would be happier if everyone had the same respect for the teller’s wishes as I do.

  2. Dan,

    Well, okay, I can see your point a little. For one thing, if there is a plot-and-style crucial surprise, I usually don’t talk of it and I usually put it in the extended section of a post, ie., a part that doesn’t appear in full view but must be clicked through to read.

    On the other hand, I think (a) people should do like you, minimizing their own exposure to media about films or books they don’t want “spoiled”—the online version of interrupting someone in mid-explanation saying, “Don’t ruin it for me!”

    And I think that (b) if the main enjoyment of the movie you’re getting is out of plot-twists, either the film isn’t all that good, or else you’re not paying enough attention to appreciate the film.

    But you know, I should admit that I didn’t “spoil” the Lord of the Rings trilogy for my girlfriend. We watched the first film and I refused to answer her question as to Gandalf’s ultimate fate. So I do admit that despite what I said, I do also think some suspense and mystery are useful tools for a storyteller.

    How can this continue in the digital age? Good question. Hmmmm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *