Spoilers can ruin meaningful bond between viewer and show
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 22:09
With the finale of “Breaking Bad” just days away, I’m prepping for my personal mourning of a show that carried me out of the dark days of my “LOST” mourning period. It is also a time to turn to a discussion on spoilers, and why you all need to need to calm down with casually tweeting and posting about who died and who did what and who shot J.R.-type shenanigans. It’s time to come to terms with the fact that spoilers are a rude and inconsiderate way of conducting yourself as a fan. Some studies have shown that spoilers can “enhance” the work itself, but those studies often do not take into account the personal level one can share with television or film. As an intense follower of all things media, I must personally advocate for more strict spoiler alert enforcements and a more mindful attitude toward spoilers themselves.
My immersion into nerd culture was with the aforementioned “LOST,” where reading a spoiler for the show would have been as devastating as contracting tuberculosis (or perhaps that mysterious Sickness on the show itself). However, I was lucky enough to watch the show in real time and in the pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter days. The general lack of carelessness regarding spoiler postings on social media has made it impossible to even consider attempting a quick check-in, lest you’ve faced with sudden spoilers regarding the demise of certain beloved characters. For example, last spring when I was behind on “Downton Abbey,” I checked Facebook where my own father had posted an article whose headline spoiled the season finale for me in a devastating way. If anything, it made the ultimate reveal that much harder to deal with because I spent the last 20 minutes of the show just sobbing uncontrollably even though nothing had happened yet. (My roommate was very concerned, but I just have a lot of feelings.)
The oft-cited research in this matter is a study that was done using short stories where some respondents were told the ending before reading while others were not. While many enjoyed the story spoiled as much or even more so than unspoiled, many aren’t noticing that those surveyed have very little emotional attachment to the story in question and they also elected to be a part of survey that could spoil something for them. The real issue is when spoilers are unsolicited and thrust upon you with the justification this ‘research’ brings. Don’t you know my deep emotional connection to “Veronica Mars” can’t be quantified and dismissed so despondently?
Still, we all know those people who don’t like the intense anticipation and for whom the knowledge of the ending relieves them of such tension. That’s great, by all means, read the last chapter of a book before you read it. However, don’t subject others to your soulless depraved act by announcing to everyone the ending of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” For some of us, the art is in the reveal and the anticipation, even if there is enjoyment in the details post-twist, such as with a re-watching of “Fight Club.” Still, that first taste of horror when one realizes all your dreams have died in a painful episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a sadness like no other. (You wouldn’t even know which one I’m referring to, because Joss Whedon rips our hearts out in several).
Spoilers aren’t something you can judge another person’s opinion on. If you have a story with a great reference to an “Angel” episode that aired in 2000 (as I always do), it’s still polite to ask, “Hey, do you mind I if spoil this for you?” Perhaps this person has been yearning to watch the tantalizing spin-off to “Buffy” or has a deep penchant for moody vampires who complain about having a soul. You should always ask, as was recently evidenced when a complete stranger, upon hearing my conversation with friends regarding Targaryen family names, decided he was within his full rights to discuss the Red Wedding. If he had merely asked, he would have discovered my friend wasn’t there yet in the books, and such a reveal could wait. While I’ll have to continue to be careful on Twitter and Facebook, it’s time to stop casually discussing events of shows and films as if everyone had enough time to stay on top of them all and not get spoiled. (I mean, I’m far too busy writing about TV to watch TV, right?