In Case of Spoilers…
Do not break the glasson September 26, 2013 at 8:00 am
Disclaimer: Even though this is an article about getting over our obsession with avoiding spoilers and raging out about them, there are going to be some in here. Spoilers for: Final Fantasy VII, Citizen Kane, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Walking Dead game, and The Sixth Sense.
We like being surprised by things. This is what makes the concept of surprise parties work. This is what is exciting about unwrapping a present. This is what makes those interesting twists in TV, movies, and video games have such an impact. Surprises keep people talking and they keep people on their toes.
No one likes having these surprises ruined for them, or “spoiled” as we’ve grown to call it. There is a feeling that if certain things are spoiled for you, that they’re now worthless. That there is now no value in experiencing them. We’ve gotten to the point that everyone has to tiptoe around spoilers in every conversation that we have. We have to announce, almost in defiance of people who may not be privy to the information, that spoilers are inbound, so walk away if you don’t want to hear them. You can’t participate in this conversation anymore, philistine.
However, when something “spoils”, it goes bad and people treat their entertainment as such. Heard what happens in the latest episode of “Breaking Bad”? Whelp, no point in watching it now. Someone told you that Rosebud is a sled? Well, no value in spending an evening viewing “Citizen Kane”. Read something about Aerith’s death in “Final Fantasy VII”? Better sell that game, because now it’s a complete waste of time.
Hate for spoilers has ballooned to the point that people will get visibly upset if they hear one. I’ve seen spoilers ruin evenings and put wedges in friendships. They have a very emotional effect.
It shouldn’t be that way, though. While they may be called “spoilers”, I think that word is too strong. We’re implying the premature knowledge of an incoming surprise is the same as food that has become rotten and inedible. Food that has spoiled is trash, but our entertainment isn’t. Our TV, movies, and games can still very much be enjoyed, even after we’ve found something out too early.
If you accidentally come across a spoiler, don’t get mad. Shrug it off, experience something for yourself, and enjoy it anyway.
I used to try and avoid spoilers, but over time, I’ve become less and less bothered by them. At this point, I don’t even care if I hear one. I’m now immune to their toxicity. This is because I eventually went back and finished the stuff that was spoiled for me and, you know what? I still had a great time. These things still had an impact. I was still – believe it or not – surprised.
Over a year ago, I started watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for the first time. I went in completely blind. I knew nothing about the show, never really talked with anyone about it, and was convinced it was worth viewing by some friends. So, I fired up Netflix and started mowing down episodes.
Roughly midway through the series, I read an interview with Joss Whedon. Of course, during the interview, there was a spoiler for the show. It was the death of Anya. “Oh no,” I thought, “now I’m just going to be waiting for her to die. She’s ruined for me now.”
Here’s the thing: it wasn’t ruined. That “spoiler” did not dampen my enjoyment of the show. It did not cause me to constantly moan and groan to people about the event. When it eventually happened, I barely even noticed. The show didn’t even treat it like it mattered. I thought, “Wait, was that it?” Yes, it was.
I’d built it up in my head. I thought it was going to be some grand event that was going to have a measurable impact on the show, but it didn’t. It was a freak occurance during the show’s last episode. The characters were too busy dealing with more important stuff and I was there with them, more concerned about other things. Her death was a mere casualty of war. To be honest, I’m surprised MORE characters didn’t die.
The point is, the show wasn’t ruined and the moment wasn’t ruined. Hell, my imagined moment was BETTER than the one on the show. Nothing was lost from knowing this. I still ended up loving the show.