Before I started using this website, I used to review my favorite TV shows on my Facebook status. Shortly after the Sherlock episode His Last Vow was broadcast I made a status showing how I felt about a certain plot twist. One of my friends left a comment moments later containing two words.
While expressing my opinion on a plot twist I had ruined the episode for him. I deleted the status as soon as I could but to this day he has not watched that episode because, to put it in his words, ‘there’s no point’.
Whenever I write a review I always put a warning for spoilers at the top of the post in big red writing. It is very difficult to hide from spoilers online as you have no idea what a spoiler is until you have read it. People consider spoilers to be different things. If I told you “King Kong goes on a rampage in New York”, some people would consider that a spoiler. It doesn’t tell you how the movie ends or anything about the plot other than the fact King Kong goes on a rampage in New York but from this simple fact we can deduce a few things. First of all, King Kong is transported from his Island to New York and because he is a giant gorilla we can assume he is not going to go quietly. Therefore he is captured. We can also assume that he is not allowed to wander free in New York so he escapes from capture and goes on his rampage. By giving away what one person sees as harmless information you are actually telling people more than you know.
The reason I’m using King Kong as an example is because he first appeared in 1933 and his story has remained relatively unchanged. If you have not watched the film or read about King Kong, chances are you still know the story roughly. Do spoilers have time limits on them? I believe King Kong is safe but Graham Norton was critised on his chat show for discussing spoilers of the James Bond film Skyfall a year after the film’s release. By this point the film had become incredibly popular and the DVD had been released, the plot was in the public domain. So when does a spoiler expire? Does it expire? Are we safe to talk about Star Wars Episode Seven yet?
My personal answer is no. A spoiler never expires but it is impossible to ask everyone if they’ve seen a film before you start talking about it. Some people don’t mind hearing spoilers or mild spoilers but other people, like me, want to enter the cinema or watch the DVD with an open mind. Some people want to ruin that experience for us. As Lemony Snicket once said “There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who give life, and those who take life away.There are those who start the fires, and those that put them out “.
Some people just love revealing spoilers. Here is one such example.
What about speculation and fan theories that are unproven? Before the release of Star Wars Episode Seven there was great speculation over what the plot would be, the fate of old characters and the role of new ones. The identity of one new character Kylo Ren was a particularly hot topic.
I won’t spoil the film by telling you the answer or any of the fan theories about Kylo Ren but what you do need to understand is that a vast majority of these theories were posted on social media. The theory was summed up in a couple of sentences and posted in the opening paragraph or in the title of the article. It’s hard/impossible to avoid theories like this whilst online. They don’t ruin the movie for the viewer but they do affect the viewing experience.
What about information that the authors, producers and cast intentionally revealed about an upcoming project? Are they spoilers? Spoiler warning for Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy When the third Bridget Jones book Mad About the Boy was released it was general knowledge that Mark Darcy bites the dust. Readers were outraged which improved the sales. Everyone knew about the twist but more books sold because of it.
On the other side of this, Ian Mcshane was accused of releasing spoilers after conducting an interview about his character on Game of Thrones before the launch of the sixth series. You can read the interview and the backlash it caused on the link below but beware Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6.
It’s hard not to know about the casting of TV shows such as Doctor Who or any of the latest soaps because they are reported in the media. The BBC have a rule which states they can not lie to the press which means keeping casting secrets incredibly difficult. Studios face a similar problem when casting an actor for a series of films. It’s no secret how many films an actor has in his contract which gives you a strong hint if their character will survive to the next film or not.
Is reading the source material before it is adapted considered spoilers? Non readers of Game of Thrones had to put up with book reader’s smug looks and knowing nods as they watched the TV show. Now the TV show has overtaken the books and we are all clueless as to what happens next. The producers would sometimes deviate from the books in order to add their own style which has confused, enchanted and enraged book readers.
Finally what about trailers, concept art and leaks? By putting something in the trailer, is the producer putting that knowledge in the public domain? Not necessary. Although the third Batman vs Superman trailer was criticized of revealing too much about the film I had the same complaint about the Age of Ulton trailers. I was sure I knew what was going to happen after piecing together the clips of the three trailers, studying cast notes and researching every interview. I was completely wrong. Trailers are sometimes deliberately misleading. Concept art, if released before the movie, isn’t always accurate as it’s impossible to tell what will be included in the movie. Concept art is just ideas. They’re fun to look at once you’ve seen the finish article as you have an idea of the thought process. As for leaks… I try to avoid leaks wherever I can.
What can you do to avoid spoilers and to avoid accidentally giving out spoilers?
- After a popular TV show finale or sporting event, try to avoid social media. If this isn’t possible be careful how far your scroll in the news feed or timeline until you have watched said event.
- If you are posting a spoiler make sure you have warned people beforehand. Use big red font.
- Only view the trailers and leaks if you want to know part of what happens or all of it.
- Ask someone if they’ve seen or read the material before you begin to talk about it.
- Don’t post spoilers online no matter how minor unless you have been asked to.
Do you have anymore advice to avoid or stop spoilers? Has someone ruined a TV show, book or film for you by telling you a spoiler?