Spoiler Alert

I randomly got caught up in two different conversations about spoilers fairly recently, and I started wondering what people’s guidelines are for spoilers.

For me personally, I try not to discuss major plot points on Facebook or Twitter (or in my book reviews) but if I do, I put the “spoiler alert” warning so that people can decide whether to read or not.

But I guess the question I really mean is, how much of it is the early watcher’s responsibility (being good citizens and not ruining things for other people) and how much of it is the late watcher’s responsibility (watching things in a timely fashion and/or staying off social media for high-discussion shows)?

I am able to watch many of the shows I watch live (since most of them seem to air on Thursdays and Sundays, two nights I am typically at home).  A big exception for this is American Horror Story, which airs Wednesday night.  (Also Nashville and Bates Motel.)  So for those, I tend to watch them the next morning so that I am less likely to see spoiler alerts.

But sometimes I come to shows late.  (I am currently watching Downton Abbey and just finished Scandal.)  Both of those shows are pretty high-interest (Scandal especially) and I definitely think the burden is on me to avoid as much as I can about those shows and be as spoiler-free as humanly possible.

With movies, I think it’s different.  A friend’s ex once got upset because she made some reference to the end of Fight Club and he hadn’t seen it.  This was probably a good decade at least after the movie came out, and it’s even on one of those shirts that lists all the different major spoilers in movies (“Bruce Willis is dead the whole time,” for example, and “Soylent Green is people!”).  I mean, yes, no one has seen all the movies and I see old movies for the first time on a fairly regular basis (true story: until last month, I had never seen Point Break!) so yes, it would kind of suck if someone had ruined that for me.  But at the same time, I am of the opinion that if seeing this movie or that TV show or reading that book is of huge importance to you, so important that spoilers would make you HULK SMASH all over the place, it’s definitely on you to make sure you do it in a timely fashion.  I was willing to wait something like 22 years to see Point Break, but I read the Hunger Games books on the days they came out.

What do you think?  When is it absolutely safe to discuss something?

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5 thoughts on “Spoiler Alert

  1. When I’m writing in my blog or posting on Facebook, I never give away major spoilers. If I want to say something vague, I will give a “spoiler alert” warning well before I give a little reveal.

    When it comes to my favorite shows like “Dexter”, “The Walking Dead”, and “American Horror Story”, I do my best to avoid reading anything that would ruin it for me since I have to wait almost a year to see them on DVD.

    I have learned about deaths on all three shows, but it was still interesting to watch because I didn’t know exactly how and when it would happen.

    So, I still have to wait until early November to see how “Dexter” ends, so don’t spoil it for me. :)

    AP

  2. I have been wondering about the ‘statute of limitations’ on spoilers lately.

    If I’m writing a book review, no matter how old the book may be, I’ll always put in a spoiler alert if I think I’m going to write/say something that could be seen as spoiler-y.

    When I talk about tv shows and movies with friends, I always ask the person if s/he is up to date, so that I know if I can safely talk about major plot points.

    As for having things spoiled for myself – it doesn’t really bother me that much. I’d rather not hear/read spoilers, but it doesn’t upset me or make me not want to watch/read something.

    That said, as a reader/viewer, I definitely think it’s MY responsibility to avoid spoilers. I waited a week to watch the Dexter series finale, and I pretty much avoided Twitter, Facebook, review sites like The A.V. Club, etc. until I caught up.

    I tend not to read book reviews of a book that I haven’t yet read, especially if there are spoiler warnings. I prefer to read reviews after I’ve read the book, and while there are cases where I read reviews before/while reading something, I do so fully knowing that it’s on ME if things are spoiled, not the reviewer.

    I think the topic of spoilers is very touchy. On the one hand, I would never tweet something spoiler-y about a book or show. That’s just not how I roll. On the other hand, if a book has come out that you’re dying to read, that you know everyone else (or at least people you follow on social media) is reading, why are you using Twitter? If it’s so important to you that things not be spoiled, shouldn’t you take it upon yourself to take all necessary precautions, like avoiding social media, until you can read it?

    In the end, the only person’s behaviour you can control is your own, so if you want to make absolutely sure that you don’t read/hear spoilers about a book/movie/tv show, do everything in YOUR power to make that happen. Stay off social media. Avoid websites that discuss or review the book/show/etc. Walk away when your friends that you know to be into that book/movie/show bring it up.

    I think we should be understanding and respectful of people who want to experience things on their own, without knowing the outcome already, even if the thing they’re excited about has been out for ages.

    But I think we also need to be understanding of the fact that people are excited about something and want to discuss it. How would you feel if you wanted to gush or rant about something only to find yourself stifled by a person who insists that you say nothing until s/he fits it into his/her own schedule?

    Clearly I have a lot of thoughts on this topic! Excellent post!

    1. Excellent comment! I try not to spoil things for people but sometimes I do. I’ve gotten better though. :)

      I think it depends about books. If I’m talking about Gone With the Wind, I’m not putting in a spoiler alert. If it’s more recent (say, within the past five years or so), I would. Basically it has to do with if it’s part of pop culture or not. (As in, we all know that Rhett leaves Scarlett and that Rosebud is a sled; we may not all know what happens in Mockingjay.)

      I try to stay unspoiled for things but as I’ve started watching popular shows very late in the game, I did know major plot twists in both Scandal and Downton Abbey well before I watched them. (It was still fun to watch and see HOW those twists happened but I think I would’ve had a better time if I had been surprised.)

  3. My own personal guideline is that once something has aired, been published, it’s fair game. If I don’t want to know something, I try to avoid places where there may be discussions, reviews, spoilers, etc. Since I am online ALL THE TIME, that gets tricky. Very tricky!

    Someone put a spoiler in their FB status last season about Downton Abbey that messed me up as I hadn’t watched the ep yet. Also, some pictures were posted on FB from a magazine photo spread of an actor from Game of Thrones. Someone posted in the comments that the character that actor played on Game of Thrones would eventually die.

    I was pissed in both cases, especially since in the second instance, it was done maliciously, I believe (he’d read the books, apparently). I didn’t scream or threaten to report either person because, hey, I *chose* to get online where I have little control over what I may see/read once I enter a site.

    Having said that, I *do* try to either generalize comments or use ‘spoiler alert’ if I’m discussing something that maybe my friends/followers/minions haven’t seen or read yet. Sometimes I will start private messages on FB if I want to discuss a show that I know 1 or 2 friends hasn’t gotten around to watching yet. I do live tweet shows sometimes so that kinda goes against everything I just said. :)

    This summer a ridiculous discussion, IMHO, broke out on Twitter because someone got angry because someone else had posted about a character death on Angel. Really? A show that ended 9 years ago?? That seemed a little too much to me. 1 poster said you should wait 10 years after broadcast. What??
    Here’s 1 poster’s spoiler rules:
    1 month after broadcast, 1 year after film release/publication don’t rt pre-spoilers, hashtag as such. It’s kind.

    Now, I *still* think that’s a leeeettle much, but it seems much more reasonable than 10 years. I was dismayed to learn the spoilers about City of Angels, 6th Sense & Citizen Kane. But as I hadn’t watched them YEARS after their theatrical release (and still haven’t actually), whose fault is it that I got spoiled? Mine! :)

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