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March 14, 2012 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Official Spoiler Etiquette. The stars of your favorite TV shows (assuming your favorite TV shows include The Wire, Heroes, Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, or True Blood) teach you how not to ruin them for your friends.
posted by lazaruslong (141 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
The worst spoiler I ever got was the end of the first season of Walking Dead, and it was spoiled by Politifact, of all places... I e-mailed them about it, but never got a response. For the record, they found that the end of season one was TOTAL BULLSHIT! Which was a shock, because I was sure that the zombie apocalypse was slowly making its way west and California was just weeks away from collapse... YEAH, HOW ABOUT YOU DON'T FACT CHECK FICTION ANY MORE, POLITIFACT!
posted by Huck500 at 4:43 PM on March 14, 2012


Apparently I can't read the small print well, and thought there was a show called Herpes. And then thought that sounded like a good show.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:48 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Truth. I actually don't mind spoilers myself much, but you've got to respect other people, so don't go spreading it around. Likewise, as the video states, if you see spoilers on the Internet it's your own dang fault.

Though if any of you says one word about Cabin in the Woods I'll cut you. Going in blind, haven't even watched trailers and I already feel like I known too much.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:57 PM on March 14, 2012


Also can I just say what a relief it is to see Julie Benz finally looking older. Pre-Dexter, she played a teenager for far too long. The current crown goes to Bianca Lawson, who has been playing teenagers for 19 years.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


vegartanipla: Apparently I can't read the small print well, and thought there was a show called Herpes. And then thought that sounded like a good show.
It certainly would have been better than the sloppy mess Tim Kring actually created. They had all that dramatic tension in the first season, and then completely and totally blew it. It's not unlike that Whedon movie "Cabin in the Woods", with such a strong first act that was basically ruined with that lame twist ending about the zvyvgnel xvqanccvat grrantref gb er-ranpg n ubeebe zbivr sbe gur tbqf..
posted by hincandenza at 5:03 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Several years ago on another forum I was reading a thread filled with movie spoilers. After reading the thread I somehow mixed up The Sixth Sense with another movie, the spoiler for which had something to do with a guy molesting kids, so when I finally got around to renting The Sixth Sense I spent the entire movie waiting for them to reveal that Bruce Willis was molesting the kid.

The real ending was way better.
posted by bondcliff at 5:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


Re: Sixth Sense, in deference to the spoiler gods I won't say the ending here, but the Chinese title apparently ruined it right off the bat. My favourite alleged foreign movie title is Babe as "The Happy Little Dumpling-To-Be That Talks and Solves Agricultural Problems."
posted by yellowbinder at 5:08 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had to stop watching this, in fear that the guy from Battlestar would spoil me.

Yeah I know...I'll get to it one of these days.
posted by toekneebullard at 5:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish people would agree on a halflife for spoilers. Or at least the creator of the work would put a label on their work that says what date you can discuss the secrets. Maybe it could have a cool label that reacts with the air and changes color after so many days/months.

This is why I am not in the DVD packing industry.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:17 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


A better halflife than suggested in that. I've gotten yelled at for spoiling things in 10 year old TV shows that I thought were required viewing for the genre.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2012


I wish people would agree on a halflife for spoilers. Or at least the creator of the work would put a label on their work that says what date you can discuss the secrets. Maybe it could have a cool label that reacts with the air and changes color after so many days/months.

This is why I am not in the DVD packing industry.
posted by mccarty.tim


Um. I think this is why you should be in the DVD packing industry, and gift me 1/2 of your millions as....inspirational residuals?
posted by lazaruslong at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


My worst spoiler example:

Titanic has come out right before the Christmas holiday, but I haven't seen it. I'm at home for Christmas with the family. My teenage cousins tell me they've seen it and that it's a good movie.

I remark that I'm excited to see it, and that I think they've done a great job in marketing the film.

"Obviously, we all know the ship sinks, but they've woven an interesting story in there. We know the Kate Winslet character survives, because we see her as an old lady. But we don't know if the Leonardo diCaprio character..."

"He dies."

"What?"

"He dies. Leonardo DiCaprio. It's, like, rilly sad."

The restraint it took to not punch this 13-year-old girl on Christmas...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


In the end, a thing happens that you didn't expect, but now that you expect the thing you didn't expect you now expect that you won't enjoy it. But you'll still find something you won't expect, since after all you expect you won't enjoy whatever it is you now expect, so now what will happen is what you least suspect, you'll still enjoy it!
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The stars of your favorite TV shows (assuming your favorite TV shows include The Wire, Heroes, Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, or True Blood) teach you how not to ruin them for your friends.

I'm sorry, I thought that Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead had already been ruined for everybody by the creators, writers and producers. It hardly seems fair that I get the blame for saying that Starbuck turns out to be an energy-being, or that every single one of the characters in Walking Dead is a staggering idiot.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:35 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've told this story before, but the closest I've ever been to experiencing a first hand riot in a movie theatre was when the people sitting behind me during a screening of The Sixth Sense started pointing out visual clues and how they related to the twist ending within the first five minutes of the film. You could hear an audible groan of disgust around them, which turned into a bit of a roar and, from there, turned into audible threats. The usher ultimately asked them to leave.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I finished playing catch up with Breaking Bad yesterday... it was only a bit after I'd finished watching did I realise that I'd seen like the most spoilering still/frame grab possible from the last episode on the internets sometime previously but had actually forgotten about it until that point... (possibly because, striking though it was, I did'nt have the context for it)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


that every single one of the characters in Walking Dead is a staggering idiot

Words of wisdom Lloyd, words of wisdom.
posted by Ber at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man I had the exact same experience, having seen that particular shot from the fourth season finale of Breaking Bad before I started watching the series, and then totally forgetting about it.

...That is, until I saw the title of the fourth season finale when I was innocently scanning the episode titles prior to starting the season. Then it all came back to me. Damn puns.
posted by palidor at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2012


I suppose scanning episode titles isn't something you can do 100% innocently, but you know they thought they were real clever with that episode title, because the phrase seems vague and innocuous if you don't know what happens (or if you didn't, say, expose yourself to a certain image on some stupid Huffington Post article about the year's "most shocking" TV moments), but then reveals itself to be darkly comic after exposure to the proceedings. But why your punning gotta trigger my serendipitously forgetting brain!!!!
posted by palidor at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2012


at my aunts insistence I watched the movie Life is Beautiful, and during the final moments, as the guy is walking along, wondering if his family survived, but before I, the viewer, had a chance to find out, my aunt told me. you know, like "oh dont worry! they're alive!" I didnt even want to watch the stupid movie anyway.... :P
posted by supermedusa at 6:25 PM on March 14, 2012


I generally don't care about spoilers, but when David Bianculli spoiled the ending to the last season of Breaking Bad on the radio, the day after it aired... well, that was just too much. I do agree that there's a half-life to spoilers, but it's got to be longer than 24 hours for a medium that feasibly can't give spoiler alerts.
posted by muddgirl at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2012


The Hunger Games is making this tricky, though, especially at work. Many people are only reading the book for the first time because of the current movie hype, so it's hard to remember that the details of the series are NOT common knowledge, even though they've been in my head for years. (Spoilers! The Avengers win!)
posted by greenland at 6:36 PM on March 14, 2012


It hardly seems fair that I get the blame for saying that Starbuck turns out to be an energy-being,

I spent years avoiding any mention of Battlestar so as not to spoil the ending.
Afterwards, I wondered what else I could have done with my time.

(Maybe I should have invented spoiler-proof DVD labels or something...)
posted by madajb at 6:37 PM on March 14, 2012


Game of Thrones Season 3 is going to be a real bitch for readers of the book to keep their mouths shut. I mean it will be fucking painful.
posted by Ber at 6:56 PM on March 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Often watching some one flip out about a spoiler is more fun than the original entertainment. Even more in is to make up fake spoilers.
posted by humanfont at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always been amused that none other than Charles Schulz had so much fun spoiling Citizen Kane, that apparently he did it twice (Lucy tells Rerun about the ending some years later than that linked strip).

I went to the Broadway premiere of M. Butterfly, and accidentally spoiled my date while we were discussing the performances during intermission. "B.D. Wong is amazing, right?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm really impressed!"

"Me too!" I said. I'd seen a picture of Wong in a magazine, out of costume; so I knew who he was. "He's doing a great job of making you think he's not a man!"

My date just stared at me. "....B. D. Wong is a man?"

"....Uh."

".....I didn't know."

I was very, very quiet for the rest of the show.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:11 PM on March 14, 2012


Spoilerbombing sits on a red-hot throne of hatred in my heart.

I remember when the sixth Harry Potter book was coming out, and minivans full of assholes would drive up to people waiting outside bookstores for midnight release parties, roll down the windows and scream spoilers into the crowd.

You basically couldn't be online in an unmoderated space for the last few weeks before that book came out without risking being spoilerbombed by someone -- one friend of mine ended up spoiled on SLASH DOT of all places.

Maliciously ruining a narrative for someone else just...gets under my skin. It's one of the few things that actually makes me want to reach through my monitor and strangle people.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maliciously ruining a narrative for someone else just...gets under my skin. It's one of the few things that actually makes me want to reach through my monitor and strangle people.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:28 PM on March 14 [+] [!]


Eponysterical!

I love spoilers. You have all been warned.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's, um, relative."
posted by 4ster at 7:33 PM on March 14, 2012


Thanks hincandenza for the cryptogram! Can't wait to print it out and solve it! (PS Do you have cyrptogram-making software? If so, what is it and where can I get it?? Thanks in advance!)
posted by brykmantra at 7:49 PM on March 14, 2012


I saw The Sixth Sense as soon as it came out on video, and was in film school at the time, and had still managed to not have it spoiled for me. I was sitting down to see it with my friend (who'd had it spoiled for her by The Daily Show and two roommates who had already seen it, and everyone was under strict orders not to tell me anything.

Then, before the movie starts, a DVD intro instructs us to "watch the extras for visual cues to the shocking twist!" and the cues shown in the intro, while not totally spelling it out, made it really damn easy to make an educated guess. I turn to my friend and roommates. "He's dead, isn't he?" "Yup."

brykmantra, I'm not going to spoil the cryptogram for you. Nevermind.

Anyway, fake spoilers are a great time had by all. My favorite was exiting the first showing of X-Men on opening day, and my friends and I are all talking over one another, and as we exit the building onto 3rd Avenue, there's a line of kids stretched down the block waiting to get into the next showing. And faster than he's ever acted before, the devil on my shoulder shouts, "PICK ME!" and without missing a beat, I just throw into the tenor of the conversation, "I can't believe Wolverine died!" and we all keep moving on.

We didn't look back for fear of ruining it, but I swear we might have heard tears (which I can justify because kids are fun to mess with.) I enjoyed that so much that I did it again leaving X-Men 2, which actually, you know, has a scene which makes it look for a second like Wolverine has, in fact, died. After X-Men 3 I just left the theater angry and redoubling my plans to murder Brett Ratner.

Step one is to be smart from the very beginning, they say.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:57 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You basically couldn't be online in an unmoderated space for the last few weeks before that book came out without risking being spoilerbombed by someone -- one friend of mine ended up spoiled on SLASH DOT of all places.

I was spoiled on /Metafilter/ for that book. I'm still mad about that! So mean!
posted by leesh at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was spoilerbombed on a WoW forum for that book. Goddamn it. I'm still mad about that.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Daily Show's what spoiled me on The Sixth Sense too! It turned my disinterest in Kilborn into dislike, and I've always wondered if that was the case for most people and lead to his career waning.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:04 PM on March 14, 2012


I think Kilborn's career waned because he told GQ in an interview that any friction with TDS creator Lizz Winstead was just because she wanted to blow him, and people realized that maybe they didn't really want to work with him. Also, he's not funny.

Anyway, this was actually on Stewart's run. It was a Frank Decaro bit about Oscar predictions where he ended some list of things with, "and a dead Bruce Willis!"
posted by Navelgazer at 8:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You basically couldn't be online in an unmoderated space for the last few weeks before that book came out without risking being spoilerbombed by someone -- one friend of mine ended up spoiled on SLASH DOT of all places.

Yeah, this is why I basically went into seclusion the whole week before the last Harry Potter book came out. I played a lot of Text Twist and reread the rest of the series. I would have been ridiculously upset if I had been spoiled for anything beyond the hints JKR let slip in the months before the book came out.

There are definitely times I want strategic spoilers though. Sometimes I just want to know if a book/movie/tv show is going to infuriate me, and sometimes I need reassurance that it won't all end in rocks fall, everyone dies. There should be some sort of website that provides those kinds of spoilers, like progressively more detailed hints that you can choose to reveal until you've satisfied yourself without spoiling yourself completely.
posted by yasaman at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


(and I'm just now creating a theory that Liz Lemon was based in part on Lizz Winstead, but the googles aren't helping me confirm that.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:17 PM on March 14, 2012


You know, one of the great things about The Crying Game is that the "big reveal" is not the axis of the plot, but another "huh, go figure" in a fascinating story.
posted by SPrintF at 8:21 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I didn't have HBO, and I had to wait for the final season of the Sopranos on dvd. My wife couldn't wait and read what happened in the infamous season finale, but I managed to avoid it until I could watch. Apparently, there were spoilers all over the place, and I even saw a couple of them, (the Emmys had one, with SPOILER the lights going out suddenly) but I had no idea that's what was happening.

On the flip side of things, I accidentally spoiled the end of the Sixth Sense for a married couple I knew, but it was like ten years after that movie came out. They were indignant, but jesus. At some point you just have to either see the thing or expect that it'll get spoiled for you.
posted by nushustu at 8:23 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


How was it any great suprise that Hermonie decided to terminate the pregnancy resulting from the awkward hookup with Malfoy after the Quidditch match. She had to finish school and bringing a child into the world with he who must not be named on the loose would just be madness. Frankly knowing it is going to happen just builds the tension up as you read towards that inevitable moment where she mixes the deathly hallows potion while Harry and Ron keep a looks out for Snape. The total obliteration of their innocence in those pages, such a contrast to the more childlike adventures of the earlier books. Then her Ophelia like death that opens book 7. I mean wow how are we supposed to just keep quiet about that....
posted by humanfont at 8:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Spoiler Alert: How lame is it that they used Rita Morgan and Sam Anders? Talk about lame characters.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:33 PM on March 14, 2012


I think how much you care about spoilers should just be a function of involvement but it's been turned into a perfectionist fetish by the usual nerd OCD.

FYI? If you spoil Mass Effect 3 for me I will cut you
posted by Sebmojo at 8:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


My first spoiler was when I was reading The Last Unicorn and a friend notices I am in the middle of it and just tells me the rest of the story for no reason and with no warning.

My grandmother has to be warned every single sentence when she discusses something that she enjoyed that other people haven't seen yet, because she will otherwise give away the entire plot. Also both my sisters. (My father, on the other hand, is just 100% accurate at predicting the twists of anything once we are 1% into it. This is infuriating, because he actually is just guessing. Correctly. Again.)
posted by jeather at 8:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


jeather - my dad too. I was so pissed as a teenager screening The Usual Suspects for my folks when my dad got up after about five minutes. "Where are you going?" "The gimp is the mastermind."

Well, dammit.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I'm remembering it as Kilborn, maybe he was doing the Late Late Show at the time and I caught it on there? I recall distinctly a tall, light-haired talk show host making a reference to people spoiling the Sixth Sense, pausing for a beat, and saying "Bruce Willis is dead" under his breath, and I don't think it was Conan.

Anyways yeah, of the dozen obvious reasons his career waned, "egotistical entitled douchebaggery" is number one with a bullet.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:42 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


brykmantra: Drag this link into your bookmarks bar, and you can rot 13 to your heart's content: Rot 13. Highlight what you want to en/decode, and hit the bookmarklet to change it.
posted by persona at 8:49 PM on March 14, 2012


While I totally support keeping film twists/endings a secret, I'm completely unsympathetic regarding TV spoilers for some reason. Particularly for reality shows. Do you really need to have your time-shifted crap TV held sacred?
posted by me3dia at 8:51 PM on March 14, 2012


Bah, you'll have to replace the automated metafilter.com/[filtered] with javascript: or go here for a clean copy.
posted by persona at 8:53 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Game of Thrones Season 3 is going to be a real bitch for readers of the book to keep their mouths shut. I mean it will be fucking painful.

Season 3? Season 2 hasn't even started yet. Y'all smarty-pants read-aheaders are just going to have to deal with it.

I finished playing catch up with Breaking Bad yesterday... it was only a bit after I'd finished watching did I realise that I'd seen like the most spoilering still/frame grab possible from the last episode on the internets sometime previously but had actually forgotten about it until that point... (possibly because, striking though it was, I didn't have the context for it)

I hadn't seen any photos but I had read some things where people were coyly trying to talk around it by using heavy sarcasm. I didn't believe any of it until I actually saw the show. The visual was way better than anything I'd read. I also got spoiled on The Sopranos ending (from a radio show) and similarly didn't believe it. Still didn't believe it after I saw it.

The only thing I do want to have spoiled is whether Don Draper actually married the frigging nanny. I might have to stop watching the show.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:03 PM on March 14, 2012


There are definitely times I want strategic spoilers though. Sometimes I just want to know if a book/movie/tv show is going to infuriate me, and sometimes I need reassurance that it won't all end in rocks fall, everyone dies. There should be some sort of website that provides those kinds of spoilers, like progressively more detailed hints that you can choose to reveal until you've satisfied yourself without spoiling yourself completely.

I hear that. I like themoviespoiler.com and moviepooper.com, saves you money. Alas, it's trickier for books. TV shows, eh, just gotta either wait until the series is done or just read recaps.

I have a (thankfully unpopular) book review site and I attempt something like this--or at least, if there's something definitely screwy about how the plot goes, I'll at least warn people at the end if they want to know. That said, I finally forced myself to read The Hunger Games series recently after years of not doing it (even though I know all of the plot details by now even when not reading it) and people asking me why I hadn't, and while writing my halfassed reviews this week, I thought, "eh, why put it behind the spoiler cut? I'm like, the last person on the planet who reads book reviews who is writing one, EVERYONE knows the plot by now, fuck it."

In this day and age, we're all just going to have to accept that spoiling happens, though. You really can't stop human beings from speaking, and there may only be so much you can do to avoid other human beings saying stuff just because you were slow. I don't think I should expect the world to keep silent so I am one hundred percent SURPRISED about a show it took me however long to watch. (And I speak as someone who hates waking up early, but has woken up early many a morning to watch whatever popular show was on last night that I wasn't home to see so I can still get in on the conversation once I get out in public.) And while yeah, there's shock factor, I still think it's different to actually read the big shocking twist that happens than just hearing ahead of time who killed who in Harry Potter. So it's not ruined for me, thanks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:30 PM on March 14, 2012


The idea that cultural artifacts somehow have a time threshold beyond which the contents of their surprises may be revealed without warnings is pretty lame.

There are secrets in even relatively ancient narratives (Shakespeare comes to mind, Romeo and Juliet for one example) that should not be revealed without warning those who come after. Assuming prior knowledge is thoughtless and bound to deprive some people of the pleasure of finding out for themselves.

I don't really distinguish between high and low art so TV, comics, film, novels, and essays--their surprises should all be treated with discretion.

Even in spoiler threads such as this one, I think spoiling cultural touchstones is pretty bad form but given this is a SPOILER thread only the foolish would expect their ignorance to continue unmolested.

Anyhow, some people are malicious, others have no consideration, and others are simply too small-minded to consider that cultural knowledge is always new for someone.

YOU SPOILING TYPES SUCK.
posted by mistersquid at 9:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heroes spoiler: The writers throw in the towel, and the show becomes a convoluted mess that you won't want to continue watching.

Honestly, we don't even know what happened at the end of the series, because we were all too disappointed by it to continue watching, and if we had, the probably finale wouldn't have been coherent enough for us to even make any sort of meaningful spoiler that could fit within the reasonable bounds of a conversation or Metafilter comment.
posted by schmod at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still think it's different to actually read the big shocking twist that happens than just hearing ahead of time who killed who in Harry Potter.

For me personally, while this is true it's kind of beside the point.

What I hate about spoilers is how they change my experience of the entire story, up to and including the actual moment I was spoiled for. If I know going in that the main character in a book will die at the end, then a part of me spends the rest of the book anticipating that moment -- every other beat of the plot is colored by this giant cloud of "THIS WILL END POORLY" hovering over it. And you know, sometimes I want that -- sometimes the tension of a story isn't enjoyable anymore and I just want to know who will survive. I have, on more than one occasion, flipped ahead in a book to see if a particular character is still around at the end.

But I'd prefer not to have someone ELSE make that decision for me.

It's actually worse when the spoiler only half makes sense -- like, "Bob eats the pot roast, and then Sally kills him for it." I'm left there wondering who the hell Sally even is and when the pot roast is going to make its appearance, often to the exclusion of other things going on in the plot. It ends up distracting me from what the book/movie/show wants me to be paying attention to at that particular moment.

All of this is particularly fresh for me right now because I was spoilerbombed for the ending of a certain popular video game like two days before it came out, and then had to sit there silently freaking out while my roommate played all 40+ hours of it.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:43 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The idea that cultural artifacts somehow have a time threshold beyond which the contents of their surprises may be revealed without warnings is pretty lame.

Jesus dies at the end.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:51 PM on March 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Or does he... ?
posted by mazola at 10:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


I self spoil, even though I don't really want to. I just click on the wrong link, or try to skim, when of course what I'm trying not to read is what pops out.

Case in point, the clip of the many deaths of [redacted], which should have been an obvious spoiler, since [gender pronoun] was in [redacted] at the time, which was hugely popular.

Damn it.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:39 PM on March 14, 2012


The restraint it took to not punch this 13-year-old girl on Christmas...

CLASSIC metafilter!
posted by karathrace at 10:54 PM on March 14, 2012


The idea that cultural artifacts somehow have a time threshold beyond which the contents of their surprises may be revealed without warnings is pretty lame.

Agreed. For many years I haven't given any preference to new TV shows, movies, books. I won’t get around to watching a movie for a decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to give it away. I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t really know anyone that would do this. I can’t imagine anyone I know talking about a film without asking if I’d seen it first.
posted by bongo_x at 11:33 PM on March 14, 2012


that every single one of the characters in Walking Dead is a staggering idiot

Spoiler: They're all Bruce Willis.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:59 PM on March 14, 2012


*grumbles about quality story structure being inherently unspoilable, goes back to reading good books backwards*
posted by loquacious at 12:30 AM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


the guy from Battlestar would spoil me

What guy?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:26 AM on March 15, 2012


I'm sure you guys would love the movie ending phone.
posted by Godwin Interjection at 1:33 AM on March 15, 2012


FYI? If you spoil Mass Effect 3 for me I will cut you

Bioware's got you covered there.
posted by dumbland at 1:59 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]



>>The idea that cultural artifacts somehow have a time threshold beyond which the contents of their surprises may be revealed without warnings is pretty lame.

>Agreed. For many years I haven't given any preference to new TV shows, movies, books. I won’t get around to watching a movie for a decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to give it away. I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t really know anyone that would do this. I can’t imagine anyone I know talking about a film without asking if I’d seen it first.


Apropos of that, I haven't actually seen "It's a Wonderful Life", and didn't know how it ends, so if that spoiler upthread is accurate... (not that I mind).

Also not seen Titanic or "The Sixth Sense"; I have known for a long time that Bruce Willis sinks at the end though.

Heroes: watched all the way to the end (I know I must have as the files are deleted), can't remember a damn think about the later episodes, it's possible that Bruce Willis sank in that as well.
posted by titus-g at 2:16 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the thing, I can't tell the story of my worst spoiler.
posted by rhizome at 2:43 AM on March 15, 2012


There are secrets in even relatively ancient narratives (Shakespeare comes to mind, Romeo and Juliet for one example) that should not be revealed without warning those who come after.

The prologue to Romeo and Juliet says what is going to happen, so the truly spoiler-averse should get to the theater late.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:28 AM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


What I hate more than spoilers are inaccurate summaries that make you look out for the wrong thing, or which completely overstate the importance of a minor character or incident.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:28 AM on March 15, 2012


The worst spoiler I ever got was the end of the first season of Walking Dead, and it was spoiled by Politifact, of all places... I e-mailed them about it, but never got a response. For the record, they found that the end of season one was TOTAL BULLSHIT! Which was a shock, because I was sure that the zombie apocalypse was slowly making its way west and California was just weeks away from collapse... YEAH, HOW ABOUT YOU DON'T FACT CHECK FICTION ANY MORE, POLITIFACT!

Ah well, no point watching the last episodes of Season One now, then.
posted by mippy at 4:58 AM on March 15, 2012


It's worse for us on the other side of the Atlantic, particularly now that a lot of big US shows are shown on Sky only (which requires a costly subscription). Game of Thrones and Mad Men both return in the week that I'm on holiday, so it shouldn't be difficult to avoid, but I've learned when to step away from Twitter.

I used to work in subtitling for BBC Breakfast, and they interview the fired candidate from the previous night's Apprentice episode the morning after. WORK-RELATED SPOILERS.
posted by mippy at 5:00 AM on March 15, 2012


Back in the 1990s the National Film Theatre in London hosted a special screening of the just-restored Touch of Evil, along with an introduction from some noted scholar of Welles' films. In his short and not very interesting talk he revealed the story-arcs of two principal characters and completely gave away the ending. I've not bothered going to any special screenings at the NFT since.

It may be karma. In the early issues of Bizarre magazine we used to print slightly random top-ten lists, and one of them was 'Ten masterpieces of modern culture lovingly ruined for you'. I wrote it. None of the movies was less than five years old (Empire Strikes Back, Alien, The Mousetrap, Citizen Kane... I forget the others) but we still got hate-mail.
posted by Hogshead at 5:03 AM on March 15, 2012


Hogshead - a Titanic ad I saw this mornign reminded me of the days when it took six months or so for films to cross the Atlantic. And a year for things to come out on video. (This is how the Sixth Sense was spoilt for me - sociology lecture notes, autumn of 2000.)
posted by mippy at 5:11 AM on March 15, 2012


I've been somewhat interested to watch The Walking Dead but if knowing what will happen in it will spoil the story I'll just not watch it.
posted by fuq at 5:14 AM on March 15, 2012


I remember when the BBC did a special screening of Ringu introduced by film critic Mark Kermode... and he spoilered the ending right before the film started (though he's had the good grace to apologise about it several times since - and to be honest it didn't seem to make it much less terrifying)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:54 AM on March 15, 2012


Game of Thrones Season 3 is going to be a real bitch for readers of the book to keep their mouths shut. I mean it will be fucking painful.

My husband and I just got Season 1 on DVD. I've read all the books, he hasn't. This leads to moments of tension. Especially since I have trouble keeping secrets at the best of times.

"He's going to [do a thing] isn't he?"
"Do you WANT me to tell you?"
"NO!"
"THEN JUST STOP IT WITH YOUR MOUTH WORDS."

The only way we can really watch it is in stony silence with the occasional comment about the incongruously excessive boob-age. Not that it's a complaint, but seriously, I don't remember THAT MANY boobs in the books.
posted by sonika at 6:22 AM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Y'know, I still haven't seen The Sixth Sense. And now all y'all have gone and spoiled it for me.
posted by chavenet at 6:48 AM on March 15, 2012


The only way we can really watch it is in stony silence with the occasional comment about the incongruously excessive boob-age. Not that it's a complaint, but seriously, I don't remember THAT MANY boobs in the books.

I was disappointed my Blurays did not come with 30 hours of deleted scenes of people eating stale bread.

I was up to A Storm of Swords by the time the Unhappy Event in TV Game of Thrones came along. Every time a friend of mine brought up the series leading up to that, I would respond with a sort of tepid unease. I was enjoying the show, but the knowledge of what was to come hung over it. There was about a week between watching the Baelor episode and getting through ASoS where I felt pretty good everything. The worst was past!

I didn't really know George RR Martin very well at that point.

I have a similar problem with my sister, sonika. She's half way through A Dance with Dragons now and still asking me questions about what's going to happen at the end of the book. I've just started lying to her.
posted by dumbland at 6:56 AM on March 15, 2012


Remember when Slashdot spoiled The Lone Gunmen, and for some reason, we all cared about The Lone Gunmen enough for that to matter?
posted by schmod at 7:03 AM on March 15, 2012


A friend of mine has become a total bore about avoiding spoilers. Recently we were going to see a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII, and he threw a petulant fit because I started talking about the contemporary Tudor history (as opposed to the drama itself). The passage of over four centuries should guarantee some sort of reprieve.

My own compromise about spoilers is that if the plot twist is included purely for shock, then there's very little to spoil materially, and if it's properly worked into the narrative, then what is lost in surprise is made up for in suspense. That said, I'll avoid getting spoiled about something I'm eagerly anticipating - which is perversely difficult with today's marketing campaigns.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:04 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a similar problem with my sister, sonika. She's half way through A Dance with Dragons now and still asking me questions about what's going to happen at the end of the book. I've just started lying to her.

The only "spoiler" I've thrown out thus far was before we even started watching the show when I was reading and *thought* my least favorite character was dead... but no. Not dead. And lo, I did start muttering and cursing and waving my fist aloud and even though my husband has never read the books, he certainly knows which character isn't going to die.

He also guessed correctly on one of the characters who does make through Book Five. He asked for confirmation on that one and really, it's pretty obvious so it wasn't much of a spoiler.

I may have to create lies for the rest of it though. That's probably all I can do to keep from blurting shit out.
posted by sonika at 7:10 AM on March 15, 2012


(As for the show vs. the book, I seriously SERIOUSLY appreciate the show has fewer juices running down chins. WE GET IT, GEORGE, MEAT WAS JUICY.)
posted by sonika at 7:11 AM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a refugee from the real time world, in that I don't ever watch anything in real time, except when I'm in a hotel room and my tragic muscle memory to use my tivo peanut to skip the blight of advertising leaves me on the bed in frustration, clicking the air. I'm also not remotely concerned with spoilers, and I really question the sort of fragile culture we've become where everyone's always clapping their hands over their ears and yelling "shut up, I haven't watched that yet!" the second you even mention something from days, weeks, or years ago.

We litter everything with "NSFW" and "SPOILER ALERT" and the peculiar new "TRIGGER ALERT" as if we're a roomful of nursery school kids wondering what's going to happen when we crank the little box that plays "Pop Goes the Weasel." You turn that little wire crank, a rinkety-tinky song plays, and a plastic-headed fabric clown on a spring pops out.

Well, that was worth the effort.

Really, the thing for me is that, if something is constructed well, knowing the ending won't ruin a thing. I know exactly how any number of my favorite books are going to end, but once a year, I enjoy rereading them. I knew how Six Feet Under ended before I ever watched an episode, and still found it worth watching. Hell, I just watched BSG from end to end on Netflix, followed by Farscape, and I knew how they ended, too. Still had a nerdalicious rollicking good time.

In the case of The Sixth Sense, knowing the ending would have saved me ninety crappy minutes of rolling my eyes through unforgivably poor craftsmanship, and I didn't need to watch more than a season of Lost to know that the eventual ending was going to be a shitty, incomprehensible mess employing the same hand-wavey rules that Disney used to wrap up The Black Hole (I guessed it right, too—it had that Stephen King "starts out great but oh no, I bet giant low quality CGI Pac-Men eventually eat the airport" vibe from the get-go).

It's irritating, being another of the ways we're supposed to police ourselves for the greater good until we're bound up in little rules and regulations and verboten topics.

Shouldn't cuss around my LDS friends because they wince, ever so slightly, like I've jabbed them with a pin. Definitely can't cuss around my Southern Baptist relatives, who find my eccentricities charming and odd, but would have a fit of the fucking vapors if I didn't filter them out of a facebook comment about how I'd love to see if Abraham Benrubi and I could successfully have sex in the back seat of a Fiat 500. Can't talk about Project Runway at the water cooler because SHUT UP SHUT UP I HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET DON'T RUIN IT FOR ME, JOE! Heck, I once had a movie party at my house and invited my favorite check-out girl from the grocery store, who I probably should have warned about Female Trouble because, well before the crucial "suck daddy's dick" scene, she got the shakes and fled, explaining at the door that that movie was all about her actual life, just like it happened.

You don't want the ending of a potboiler mystery to slip out, but really, if something's good, you can know every single aspect of it and still take delight in the path. I knew what was going to happen to Jesus in The Passion of the Christ—mean Jews in funny hats were going to hurt him and fag-hatin' Gibson was going to poach the not-remotely-Biblical faggy Herod scene right out of Jesus Christ Superstar, but without the song—and I could still get all tingly from every lash. Well, not really, though Pilate does have great calves.

Granted, that's my take, and I'm a sucker for a brilliantly crafted piece of storytelling, so I'm more about how it plays out, and how well the story unfolds, than "hey, the oddly masculine lady is actually a man!"

Still, we just close down one alley of small talk after another, keeping more to ourselves and avoiding anyone who might tell us something that'll ruin the paltry serving of delight available from, say, Heroes, until we just sort of can't talk about anything. Small talk is how you get to big talk, and big friends, but around the water cooler, you're left with muttering about sports—

SHUT UP, I HAVE THAT GAME ON THE DVR AND I HAVEN'T WATCHED IT YET!

If everyone you've ever known tells you every secret they'll ever hear, there are still a billion surprises left for you in the world, but sheeeeesh, we're such a whiny lot, and we love twist endings because we've almost entirely given up on actually crafting a good story.
posted by sonascope at 7:21 AM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I got spoiled for a very important scene in Season 5 of The Wire (the one in the store). I didn't know when it was going to happen other than sometime in Season 5, so throughout the whole season I was on the edge of my seat whenever That Character was on screen. It was awful. I was almost relieved when it happened.
posted by desjardins at 7:26 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


desjardins - I've just started watching NewsRadio - well, I'm about to start season 5. And I know now that Phil Hartman died between 4 and 5, and the first ep of season 5 deals with that, and I don't know whether I can really watch it.
posted by mippy at 7:29 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


FYI? If you spoil Mass Effect 3 for me I will cut you

The Reapers win.

Seriously, ME3 is something for which huge spoilers don't matter that much. What makes the game is the moments, not the framing story. Having been spoilered on the ending, I'm very glad I have because the ending appears to be awful, which means I can dissassociate from that rather than being hit round the head with it.

But what makes it are moments like Admiral Anderson reacting to the death of his wife, Miranda Lawson in a business suit buying up the land Cerberus research projects are stationed on, Udina taking a swing at Wrex, Emily Wong crashing an aircar into a Reaper, and the conversations between NPCs you overhear reacting to the Reaper invasion. (Note: with the single exception of Emily Wong, all of those are fake spoilers other than that the Reapers invade. And Emily Wong didn't crash the car in game - but over twitter on the pre-launch tweets). Oh, and excellent gameplay.

And on preview - ME3 to date appears to be a very good story spoiled by the twist ending.
posted by Francis at 7:29 AM on March 15, 2012


I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone showed up to explain that wanting to avoid spoilers brands us forever as weak-minded preschoolers afraid of a jack-in-the-box.

Which...okay, fine, go ahead and be a condescending dick about it. Just don't maliciously spoilerbomb me while you're at it. That's all I'm asking, really.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:34 AM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


*memails Sebmojo to tell him not to read the rest of this thread*
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:37 AM on March 15, 2012


It's irritating, being another of the ways we're supposed to police ourselves for the greater good until we're bound up in little rules and regulations and verboten topics.

I assume you're not familiar with Wheaton's Law, so I'm not gonna spoil it for you.
posted by bondcliff at 7:50 AM on March 15, 2012


I was recently spoiled, two weeks in a row, by someone posting in real time on Facebook about Walking Dead. Thereby ruining some actual surprises in a long, boring, slog of a season.

Here's what I don't get. Why? Why would anyone do that? Either the person reading (a) doesn't watch the show and doesn't care or (b) is watching in real time and already knows or (c) is going to watch it later and is now annoyed.

Just give me 24 hours! I have to get up at 5:00 AM and can't stay up that late!
posted by JoanArkham at 7:53 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not being a condescending dick about it at all, and thanks, BTW, for your rush to sully the civil tone. How 'bout you try not leaping immediately to butthurt because someone has a differing opinion than your own?

If you want to protect yourself from spoilers, that's fine, but don't expect the entirety of your social circle or the internet to have to pussyfoot around and mince words because of the choices you make. See, I'm not talking about malicious "spoilerbombing," to use your word, and I'd love to see you point out where in my comment I advocate that. I'm addressing the contingent that wants us all to speak in thoughtful little whispers in which we must first ask permission before we can talk about something that's out there in the culture. I'm sorry if you didn't see that [show, movie, book, play, concept album] when it came out years ago, but is there really a long-term statute of limitations in the common consensus that we can never, ever have a discussion without entering into an oral EULA?
posted by sonascope at 7:56 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Emily Wong crashing an aircar into a Reaper

*sniffles*

"You want to see how a human dies? At ramming speed."

(Also, JFC hindancenza, I don't know if that was an intentional or unintentional troll, but way to go.)
posted by kmz at 7:56 AM on March 15, 2012


FYI? If you spoil Mass Effect 3 for me I will cut you

SPOILER ALERT: BioWare rewards fans' years of appreciation by fucking them over with Day-One DLC. Bastards.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2012


I'm not being a condescending dick about it at all,

No, there's nothing condescending about this at all:
We litter everything with "NSFW" and "SPOILER ALERT" and the peculiar new "TRIGGER ALERT" as if we're a roomful of nursery school kids wondering what's going to happen when we crank the little box that plays "Pop Goes the Weasel." You turn that little wire crank, a rinkety-tinky song plays, and a plastic-headed fabric clown on a spring pops out.
Some people dislike spoilers. Lots of people don't want to see naked bodies or graphic depictions of sex or violence or gore without warning. Lots of people have had traumatic experiences and have graphic, physical flashbacks when they see depictions of or hear/read discussions of similar events.

The polite, adult thing to do is to recognize that this is the case, and respectfully note when such discussions will be occuring. The childish thing to do is to bitch about it and compare those people to toddlers. On the other side, if someone says, "I don't want anyone discussing spoilers anywhere on the internet, ever", such a person is obviously irrational. But 99.9% of people who dislike spoilers understand that this isn't possible. They just want a heads up.
posted by muddgirl at 8:08 AM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm addressing the contingent that wants us all to speak in thoughtful little whispers in which we must first ask permission before we can talk about something that's out there in the culture.

SCENE: You and a coworker at the water cooler.

YOU: Have you seen Sixth Sense?

COWORKER: No, it's in my Netflix queue but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

YOU: Well, I won't spoil it for you, but it's really a good movie.

COWORKER: Cool, I'll move it to the top of my queue and we can talk about it next week!

END SCENE

It's really not that hard and you haven't been SILENCED ALL YOUR LIFE.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 AM on March 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I got spoiled for a very important scene in Season 5 of The Wire (the one in the store). I didn't know when it was going to happen other than sometime in Season 5, so throughout the whole season I was on the edge of my seat whenever That Character was on screen. It was awful. I was almost relieved when it happened.

Why didn't you just find out when it happened since you were already spoiled? Omar is shot is "Clarifications" season 5, episode 8. Found it in two minutes. It seems like you could have saved yourself some angst.

Here's what I don't get. Why? Why would anyone do that? Either the person reading (a) doesn't watch the show and doesn't care or (b) is watching in real time and already knows or (c) is going to watch it later and is now annoyed.

Or (d) is watching it and wants to talk about it on Facebook with anyone else who is Facebook and is watching. You've never talked it about a show real time on Facebook?
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:22 AM on March 15, 2012


peculiar new "TRIGGER ALERT"

Sensitivites change. It wasn't long ago at all that it was perfectly acceptable for straight people to refer to queers and faggots in polite company. Of course there's still homophobia, and of course there are still people who use those words, but those people are increasingly perceived to be assholes. This was brought about by the increasing awareness that gay people are just like the rest of us and want the same rights. I can go on about race relations but you get the point.

So too, there has been increasing awareness that many people have molested, raped, or otherwise sexually assaulted in the course of their lives. Many, if not most, of these people do not want to revisit this awful event. News articles and stories and films can bring back painful memories. If you personally know that someone has been a victim of sexual assault, it's disrespectful to launch into a discussion about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo without first warning them you're going to talk about rape, and they can excuse themselves from the conversation if they wish. If you're writing to an anonymous audience on a blog, you can be sure that some proportion of your readers will be triggered by a discussion of that movie, and it's polite and respectful to warn them. I mean, jesus, it's 12 letters and a space. No one is muzzling you.

Personally (Republicans aside) I'm glad we're becoming more sensitive and respectful to people. It's at no cost to ourselves.
posted by desjardins at 8:25 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's irritating, being another of the ways we're supposed to police ourselves for the greater good until we're bound up in little rules and regulations and verboten topics.

...No, it's courtesy. Is courtesy such a hassle?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Frankly, the nursery school thing is an all-inclusive critique, not an us-vs-them thing, which is why I very clearly wrote "as if WE'RE a roomful of nursery school kids," and not, as I'm being interpreted, "as if [YOU'RE] a roomful of nursery school kids." I'm irritated that the general tone is skewing towards acting like we're all a bunch of defenseless, fragile children, and working towards knee-jerk hypersensitivity rather than actual engagement.

Do you really think I'm sitting here complaining that I'm being "SILENCED ALL [my] LIFE" or that I'm being "muzzled?" It's not about some sort of fanciful accusation of fascist thought control—it's just that we don't need another set of rules to cover this. We already have "don't be a dick," to cover incidents of malicious "spoiling," and the spoiler-averse conversationalist has the ability to walk away from a conversation that they feel endangers that sacred bliss of not knowing the ending to some story. I have the freedom to not hang around with people who constantly interrupt my conversations with "SHUT UP SHUT UP DON'T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED I HAVEN'T WATCHED IT YET," and I exercise that freedom.

It's a little odd to me that the link in the FPP is intended to be humor, and it's sort of somewhat funny in the way that videos on collegehumor.com are sort of somewhat funny. It's tongue-in-cheek, as was my comment.

In the name of courtesy, though, Narrative Priorities jumped in to call me a "condescending dick." It's odd, because I didn't single anyone out for the same treatment. Perhaps I've missed something about how that courtesy and sensitivity is supposed to work? I make a general comment about an overall cultural trend and the responses aren't about the trend—they're about me, my personal qualities or lack thereof, and are essentially telling me to shut up and sit down rather than engaging any of the points I offer. Who's taking this too seriously?

The thing is, courtesy is fine. That's not what I'm commenting on. I am curious how far should we go to avoid offending or upsetting people? If I discuss dating with friends, family, or coworkers, should I offer the disclaimer that, as a gay homosexual, my relationships may offend them? If I discuss politics, should I broach my party association before I begin, so that I don't irritate those who might disagree? If I want to talk about Suddenly, Last Summer, do I really need to vet the entire group I'm with before I mention my favorite scene, in which Elizabeth Taylor [no fucking way am I going to write that down, given this thread's histrionic history] on the top of that hill with [yeah, still not going there]? Is fifty-three years after a film comes out too soon?

Narrative Priorities wrote me a little snark based on (a) what she thinks or claims I said, and (b) that she apparently believes my comment is somehow a response to her earlier comments, which I hadn't read, because I never once even alluded in the vaguest way to "malicious spoilerbombing." Maybe I'm doing this wrong, in that I'm supposed to read the entire comment thread before responding instead of just, you know, watching the linked video in the FPP.

Thing is, I don't have a right to never be offended. I am offended, a little bit, because someone called me a dick when I am most distinctly not a dick, but that's all down to opinion and someone who's not quite figured out that the social distancing effect of an online forum still doesn't make it okay to spit out a personal insult instead of talking about the comment. You can call me whatever you like, in fact, and I'll either defend myself or get back to work and listen to some Pizzicato Five at my desk while I work up spreadsheets for outcome budgeting. What I don't need is for someone to set up a running chatterline of warnings, disclaimers, and MPAA-style ratings to let me know that someone on the internet may think I'm a dick or call me a dick. It's the real world, and Fred Phelps already has the task of repudiating my character well in hand.

Does courtesy really require a gigantic rulebook and a panoply of colored flags and safe words, or is it a great deal simpler than that? Knowing who you're speaking to makes the world a much better place than all the warnings and "after the jump" messages one can possibly muster.

Sheesh. Now back to my Pizzicato Five and spreadsheet.
posted by sonascope at 9:17 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


....Okay, I can get that you're annoyed about this, but - seriously, nearly one thousand words about how you feel it's unfair that you can't talk about what "Rosebud" was at will?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on March 15, 2012


Complaining about trigger warnings does mean you're a dick, sorry. At least on that issue. And invoking the MPAA and Fred Phelps? WTF?
posted by kmz at 9:26 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


...No, it's courtesy. Is courtesy such a hassle?

It's also courteous to pay attention to the conversation going on around you and, if you don't want to be spoiled and your presence isn't central or original, smoothly leave that conversation when it seems to be about a work of fiction you don't want to hear about. Is courtesy such a hassle?

...which is my larger problem with much of the anti-discussion-of-fiction crowd. It always seems to be incumbent on the people having a nice discussion about some work of fiction they've enjoyed and that is, in some way, important to them to make sure that nobody within earshot might possibly object to their discussion, and at most very rarely incumbent on people who don't want to hear about X to remove themselves from conversations that are plainly about X. Yes, people who randomly drop information about unrelated works just out of the blue are either dicks, clueless, or mistaken about what you've seen or read. But really... is it so hard, if you don't want to hear about Game of Thrones, not to walk up to people who are talking about Game of Thrones, or to simply go do something else when the conversation turns to Game of Thrones?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's also courteous to pay attention to the conversation going on around you and, if you don't want to be spoiled and your presence isn't central or original, smoothly leave that conversation when it seems to be about a work of fiction you don't want to hear about. Is courtesy such a hassle?

Scenario:

I am nine years old. I meet some of my friends. One of them says, "hey, did anyone see EMPIRE STRIKES BACK yet?"

One second later, someone else blurts out, "Yeah! And Darth Vader is Luke's Dad!"

Are you saying that I was the discourteous one for not leaving in the 0.5 seconds after the first kid asked "did anyone see EMPIRE yet'?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Back in the 1990s the National Film Theatre in London hosted a special screening of the just-restored Touch of Evil, along with an introduction from some noted scholar of Welles' films. In his short and not very interesting talk he revealed the story-arcs of two principal characters and completely gave away the ending. I've not bothered going to any special screenings at the NFT since.

This is part of what I mean. Assuming you knew there would be an introduction from a scholar of Welles' films, what on earth did you think he was going to talk about except Touch of Evil? If you didn't want to hear about Touch of Evil before you saw it, why did you choose to hear a scholar of those films give a lecture about it before you saw it?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


seriously, nearly one thousand words about how you feel it's unfair that

Have you ever read what I write on metafilter? A thousand words is my basic unit of conversation. Try being trapped in a car with me all day some time...or not.

But sure, yeah, I get it—I'm clearly expressing the minority opinion here, and a long response makes me appear desperate and unhinged. That's the only reason someone could hold a dissenting opinion, right?
posted by sonascope at 9:32 AM on March 15, 2012


If I discuss dating with friends, family, or coworkers, should I offer the disclaimer that, as a gay homosexual, my relationships may offend them? If I discuss politics, should I broach my party association before I begin, so that I don't irritate those who might disagree? .

Holy hyperbole. First, fuck homophobes. You know you have nothing to apologize for there. You're not out to ruin their marriage. If they're offended, it's their fault.

Second, if you're talking about politics, there's no need to say BY THE WAY I'M A LIBERAL because that will become obvious in short order. Disagreement is not offense.

Does courtesy really require a gigantic rulebook and a panoply of colored flags and safe words, or is it a great deal simpler than that? Knowing who you're speaking to makes the world a much better place than all the warnings and "after the jump" messages one can possibly muster.

You made my point for me. Courtesy is simple. Trigger alerts and spoiler warnings are courtesy that cost you nothing.
posted by desjardins at 9:33 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I discuss dating with friends, family, or coworkers, should I offer the disclaimer that, as a gay homosexual, my relationships may offend them?

Also, respecting victims of sexual abuse (which is what trigger warnings are mostly about) is not the same thing as respecting homophobic asshats, no matter what you might think.
posted by kmz at 9:33 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am sorry that I indirectly called you a dick, sonascope. You're right that I could have put it less harshly.

I hadn't realized that you were responding only to the video, not to the many personal stories and outlooks in the thread, but then I had no way of knowing you hadn't read them.

I believe that you didn't mean to be a jerk with your comment, but reading it felt a little like being slapped repeatedly across the face. However you intended it, it reads as an explanation of why the desire to avoid spoilers is a shallow, unsophisticated impulse that should be pitied. And it also lumped "I don't want spoilers" in with "I don't want to be triggered" which is an entirely inappropriate comparison. My personal desire to experience narratives as the author intended -- to the point where I never read the backs of books -- may be important to me, as my username suggests. But I would never equate it to someone else's need to avoid being triggered. The former is a matter of taste; the latter, a difference between being able to function on a given day or not.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:34 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My husband spoiled Sixth Sense for both of us, right there in the movie theater, about thirty seconds in. The movie was shot in Philly, and there had been all this buildup to the release with buzz about the "twist" and everything... and so thirty seconds into it, he just leaned over to me and whispered, "So, basically, Bruce Willis is dead. That's the twist, right?" Yep.
posted by mothershock at 9:38 AM on March 15, 2012


EmpressCallipygos, in defense of the nine year-old who ruined The Empire Strikes Back for you, George Lucas spent seven years and three hundred and forty-eight million dollars doing it definitively, and he's the guy who started the whole series to begin with.
posted by sonascope at 9:39 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that I was the discourteous one for not leaving in the 0.5 seconds after the first kid asked "did anyone see EMPIRE yet'?

I will happily concede that, someone having asked if everyone had seen it, polite adults might be reasonably expected to have more impulse control than nine year olds and not respond by immediately revealing plot twists.

But that seems rare around here. Far more common on Metafilter is for someone to read an extensive thread about, say, Use of Weapons only to find discussions of the plot several pagedowns later and then complain about it. Which is to say that it is somehow rude for conversations about Use of Weapons to be about Use of Weapons, and that many of the most interesting things to talk about are somehow off limits because it is conceivable that someone might enter the thread without having read the book.

More broadly, the pre-existence of any conversation about X should, itself, be understood to be a spoiler warning for X in the ongoing conversation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2012


The Final Fantasy Vee Eye Eye original sound track CD has a track whose actual title is "Gur Qrngu bs Nrevgu". Thanks, guys.

A band-aid and a couple of Phoenix Downs, and she'll be fine.
posted by sourcequench at 9:49 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will happily concede that, someone having asked if everyone had seen it, polite adults might be reasonably expected to have more impulse control than nine year olds and not respond by immediately revealing plot twists.

You'd be surprised, actually....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on March 15, 2012


Love, LOVE, LOVE giving fake spoilers.

Met a friend in England who was complaining about US releases being so far ahead of UK releases, and he was finally going to get to see Movie X (I forget which). His temples actually flared when I suggested he pay special attention to the penguin near the end (none such in movie).

I told some friends about to see Aliens 3 that the best part was finally getting to see Sigourney Weaver's breasts naked.... technically true...

But my all-time favorite was when I read the last ~10 pages of the Harry Potter final book, just so I could mention this to HP fans. No intention of actually telling them anything about it. But, for the record, the final scene in the movie really made that secret memory come alive.

I am evil. I accept that.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:49 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I generally don't care about spoilers, but when David Bianculli spoiled the ending to the last season of Breaking Bad on the radio, the day after it aired... well, that was just too much. I do agree that there's a half-life to spoilers, but it's got to be longer than 24 hours for a medium that feasibly can't give spoiler alerts.

Interestingly enough, Bianculli addressed the issue of spoilers head-on in his Best (and Worst) TV of 2011 appearance on "Fresh Air" and he falls strongly on the "Once a show airs in real-time it's fair to discuss it without endless spoiler warnings" side of the argument:

"They used to call this 'water-cooler' conversation. If you had a TV [show] that was 'water-cooler,' then people were talking about it the next morning — 'Who shot J.R.? Did you see what happened over here?' — Well, now, if there are water coolers and if there are offices, one person goes up and says, 'Did you see Dexter?' And they're like, 'No, shut up, I didn't see it. Tell me in a year.' This is not the way to have a conversation"


I'm not entirely sure where I fall in this argument. Frankly, I find the "Efforts should always be made to avoid spoiling plot details for those who have not yet experienced a particular work of art, regardless of how old the work is" to be really goofy and impractical (like, I really need to endlessly drape myself in disclaimers and warnings before I can mention the identity of Pip's benefactor in a 150-year-old book?). But I also find the tired mantra of "If a book/movie/TV show can be ruined by having plot details spoiled then it probably wasn't worth experiencing in the first place" to be equally obnoxious.
posted by The Gooch at 10:07 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where's my snarky video to show creators, writers and producers about how not to ruin a show?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:18 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


And before there were spoilers, there was Santa Claus.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2012


Or (d) is watching it and wants to talk about it on Facebook with anyone else who is Facebook and is watching. You've never talked it about a show real time on Facebook?

It wasn't an opening for discussion so much as "OMG X just got killed!" Two weeks in a row. Other folks put something like "Can't believe what just happened!" and then followed up in the comments, which was fine.

I have never liveblogged a show, except for the He Man/She-Ra Christmas Special which I am pretty sure is outside of the statute of limitations. Again, all I'm asking for is 24 hours.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:22 AM on March 15, 2012


Following up the great points made by a number of commenters above:

Mentioning that quality narratives are still enjoyable despite being spoiled is a high/low art distinction. For many transient narrative pleasures, secrets are essential, and for you to claim spoilability is the hallmark of crappy art is condescension. Be condescending if you must, but keep in mind you're probably not as well-educated and refined as you imagine yourself to be.

Spoiling is not a great crime. It just sucks, and fake spoilers are sometimes as bad as real spoilers because, as Narrative Priorities mentions, it breaks narrative immersion. Waiting for a milestone (real or not) often inhibits the experience narrative discovery. But as two commenters have confessed, fake spoiling is almost always malicious. Yes, you suck and at least one of you knows it.

Finally, people getting all huffy about their freedom to speak freely really is at the heart of this conversation. For me, this breaks down the lines of consideration, selfishness, introversion, and gregariousness. How one handles the revealing of hidden information--in art, politics, and love--really tells a lot about a person, how much empathy and care one has for people to whom one is not obliged.

It's a matter of care, plain and simple, and it's clear that many of you (of us) simply don't care.
posted by mistersquid at 10:28 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Finally, people getting all huffy about their freedom to speak freely really is at the heart of this conversation.

I thought it was people being huffy about their freedom to consume fiction in a complete vacuum of information about that fiction, even when they are actively seeking information about that fiction, and even when they are willingly having a conversation about that fiction.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:04 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was people being huffy about their freedom to consume fiction in a complete vacuum of information about that fiction, even when they are actively seeking information about that fiction, and even when they are willingly having a conversation about that fiction.

No, it's people getting huffy about the "omigod can you believe DARTH VADER IS LUKE'S FATHER" posts out of nowhere when they're not expecting it.

If you don't do that, well then you're not the one people are complaining about, so good for you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2012


Oh, FFS! It doesn't matter if YOU can't be spoiled over quality narratives because blahblahblah. It's not about YOU. Other people (you know those other things that look and walk and talk like you, except don't live in your head?) don't like to be spoiled, so don't spoil it for them. Because, obviously quality narratives CAN be spoiled for them.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:09 AM on March 15, 2012


No, it's people getting huffy about the "omigod can you believe DARTH VADER IS LUKE'S FATHER" posts out of nowhere when they're not expecting it.

If we can agree that people shouldn't drop unrelated bombs and that people shouldn't join threads about X if they don't want to know about X, then I got no beef with you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2012


people shouldn't join threads about X if they don't want to know about X

Actually, I can't completely agree to that. Because a lot of times threads about X don't mention the spoiler bits at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on March 15, 2012


and he falls strongly on the "Once a show airs in real-time it's fair to discuss it without endless spoiler warnings" side of the argument:

I would agree with that argument in any media except television and radio. If I'm reading the newspaper, I can tell if a spoiler is coming before I read it. If I'm talking to someone, same thing. If I'm reading Metafilter, ditto.

But I can't be expected to listen to Fresh Air from start to finish. I get in my car at 12:47 and put on NPR and Bianculli can be right at the juicy part of the spoiler. Bianculli's argument is that I should just avoid listening to the radio or watching TV entirely if I have DVR.
posted by muddgirl at 11:32 AM on March 15, 2012


I don’t really understand the spoiler thing in the first place. Most of the time the speaker is not really discussing some point of the work that requires mentioning the spoiler, they’re just acting like a child in a "I know something you don’t" or "I’ve learned a fact and I can’t stop myself from repeating it because I have no self control" way.

I don’t even like to hear about the plot of a story. A synopsis should never be more than a short sentence, or two if it’s especially complex. If I learn any more than that I often lose interest and won’t see the movie or read the book. It’s not "ruined" for me, I’m just usually not interested anymore. I don’t know why, but there it is.

People who feel compelled to relate the plots and secrets of a work are strange to me, and it always seems a little immature, even though I know it mostly has more to do with wanting to talk about a work but not really having anything to say.
posted by bongo_x at 11:52 AM on March 15, 2012


A synopsis should never be more than a short sentence, or two if it’s especially complex.

Seriously. You know how happy I would've been if the only thing I knew about Inception was that "it's a heist film"?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:46 PM on March 15, 2012


They used to call this 'water-cooler' conversation. If you had a TV [show] that was 'water-cooler,' then people were talking about it the next morning

It's kind of hilariously arrogant that he doesn't see the difference between casual office conversation between at best a dozen individuals and literally broadcasting the information to potentially hundreds of thousands of people at once.
posted by elizardbits at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's kind of hilariously arrogant that he doesn't see the difference between casual office conversation between at best a dozen individuals and literally broadcasting the information to potentially hundreds of thousands of people at once.

While Bianculli's opinion regarding spoilers does seem somewhat archaic in the modern era of ubiquitous DVR's, Netflix streaming, various other online viewing options, full seasons of TV shows being readily available on DVD following each season, etc., he does bring up a fair question: If you choose, for whatever reason, to wait to watch a particular TV show episode, shouldn't the onus be on you to avoid having major plot points spoiled (or just to accept that it may happen if you choose not to watch in real-time), rather than expecting anyone who has already seen the show to carefully tiptoe around possibly spoiling any plot details for an indeterminate amount of time following the initial airing?
posted by The Gooch at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2012


Actually, I can't completely agree to that. Because a lot of times threads about X don't mention the spoiler bits at all.

You're seriously contending that someone who doesn't want to know details about Videodrome or Terminator 3 should be able to safely expect that the current threads are free of such details, and that if any should appear it's because the people in them are rude?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2012


If you choose, for whatever reason, to wait to watch a particular TV show episode, shouldn't the onus be on you to avoid having major plot points spoiled (or just to accept that it may happen if you choose not to watch in real-time), rather than expecting anyone who has already seen the show to carefully tiptoe around possibly spoiling any plot details for an indeterminate amount of time following the initial airing?

What if you didn't choose? What if you weren't yet born? Or were in a coma? Or otherwise indisposed?

Why is it so impossible to fathom that all the circumstances under which others will encounter information is unknowable and, as a result, indicating spoilers might be a good idea?

What is wrong with you people?
posted by mistersquid at 2:31 PM on March 15, 2012


What if you weren't yet born? Or were in a coma?

By all means, let's all mind our speech until the coma people have had a chance to catch up.

If fully enjoying story hinges entirely on ignorance of its plot points, then guess what? It's really not that great of a story. I've been spoiled for all sorts of classic books, movies, and TV shows, only to find out later that they turned out way differently than I thought because of nuances in the characters or the filmmaking, or whatever.

I try not to spoil anyone, and I try not to be spoiled. But it's also not very important to me, because I'm not chasing some kind of imaginary pure experience in which I get to pretend that the entertainment in question gets whispered straight into my head from the lips of the author/filmmaker/whatever.
posted by hermitosis at 2:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Spoiler Alert: Everyone dies.
posted by WASP-12b at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


If fully enjoying story hinges entirely on ignorance of its plot points, then guess what? It's really not that great of a story.

I'm guessing you aren't bothered by spoilers because you don't bother to read what comes before.
posted by mistersquid at 3:09 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you choose, for whatever reason, to wait to watch a particular TV show episode, shouldn't the onus be on you to avoid having major plot points spoiled (or just to accept that it may happen if you choose not to watch in real-time)...

And yes, when we are talking about a conversational medium like Metafilter, I agree. But Bianculli is talking about the radio. He is saying that if I don't want to hear him recap television episodes during Fresh Air, then I shouldn't turn on my radio during the Fresh Air broadcast.

Which, yes, fine. In the future I will stop listening to Fresh Air on my lunchtime drive. But do the producers of Fresh Air really want people who don't want to listen to recaps of the plot-twisty season finales of blockbuster shows to stop listening to their program? Because that is the standard Bianculli is arguing for.

Of course, I don't think a review of Breaking Bad requires a recap of the season finale plot twist. It was pointless.

Also, for shows like Breaking Bad, whether or not I choose to watch in real-time is kind of a red herring - shows of this quality exist because the showrunners and studios are counting on time-shifted TV viewers (DVR, DVD, Hulu, etc). It's a new reality that television critics will have to adapt to.
posted by muddgirl at 3:13 PM on March 15, 2012


If fully enjoying story hinges entirely on ignorance of its plot points, then guess what? It's really not that great of a story.

Oh, come one. Great stories are surprisingly original, and shit stories are usually totally predictable. It's not a hard relationship to determine and it's really weird to see people keep throwing that out there like it's some kind of actual reason 'spoilers don't really spoil'. I mean you can keep believing that, but obviously others don't.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:24 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I started turning off David Bianculli a while ago. I like that he’s gone out of his way to reassure me that I made the right decision.
posted by bongo_x at 4:46 PM on March 15, 2012


There are definitely times I want strategic spoilers though.

Not sure if this is 100% spoiler-related strategy, but a friend of mine and I have a long-standing pact that, if either of us sees a movie or an episode of a tv show that includes an animal dying, or getting harmed or killed, we immediately email the other with WARNING: [NAME OF MOVIE/EPISODE]--even if we don't know if the other one has any intention of ever watching it. Of course, that means one of us has had to see it, which sucks, but at least we each experience 50% less pain. (We also count on our other friends to give us the heads-up, as most of them know about it by now.)
posted by tzikeh at 5:04 PM on March 15, 2012


If fully enjoying story hinges entirely on ignorance of its plot points, then guess what? It's really not that great of a story.

Au contraire, often the BEST stories are ruined by spoilers, because, when you've read as much as I have, you often find the mediocre works all start to follow proscribed forms and predictable plots. So in those instances, I can guess who is going to be the killer in that mystery or what the Big Secret is, anyway.

But when the writing is good enough to throw me a curve, so I don't see what's coming at all, and I'm blindsided by the development? That's the ultimate thrill for me. George R. R. Martin has done that to me in his books, more than once, and I appreciate not having those shocking surprises revealed prematurely.

Now my son is reading the series, and it's been incredibly hard not to ask him where he is and maybe accidentally give something away--but today he told me he just got to one of those WHOA! moments, and we had such a great discussion about it! I'm happy for him, knowing how it felt for me when I got to that point, and I know there are even MORE moments like that ahead for him. I'm so glad that he is experiencing it all without spoilers.

Spoiling SUCKS.
posted by misha at 5:17 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


tzikeh, I like that idea.

I remember waaaay back in the day that a girl I knew and I were interested in seeing Romantic Movies A and B. She saw A and I saw B. (Note that I'm not spoiling.) We came back and had the following conversation:

"Does he die?"
"Yes. Does he die?"
"Yes."

Then we saved the other one money and 2 hours of sad.

I do think sonascope has a point though. Do we seriously have to sound an alarm every time we are having a conversation in public Just To Make Sure Every Single One In The Room Has Seen It? Do I have to account for the person who was in the can when I made that room check and thus randomly overheard me say that someone died because they walked out at the wrong time? Dear lord, we can't spoiler police everything and everybody in every situation.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:44 PM on March 15, 2012


Do we seriously have to sound an alarm every time we are having a conversation in public Just To Make Sure Every Single One In The Room Has Seen It?

I don't know if we 'need to', but since we already do (or, removing the humorous over-exaggeration, we ensure that our conversational partners have seen the movie before discussing it), I don't understand why this is so controversial.

Do I have to account for the person who was in the can when I made that room check and thus randomly overheard me say that someone died because they walked out at the wrong time

Again, in face to face conversations has this really ever been a problem? If someone re-enters the conversation we naturally stop to include them ("Hey, Joe, we're talking about The Sixth Sense!" "Oh, I haven't seen that yet." Then either y'all talk about something else or Joe goes away).
posted by muddgirl at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if you didn't choose? What if you weren't yet born? Or were in a coma? Or otherwise indisposed?

Why is it so impossible to fathom that all the circumstances under which others will encounter information is unknowable and, as a result, indicating spoilers might be a good idea?


At what point though does this just become an impossibly ridiculous rule to follow? By this logic, if I casually refer to Kelly Clarkson as having won the first season of American Idol without first going to extreme lengths to give out proper spoiler warnings, I am being inherently rude, since it's possible someone who is within earshot or who may read my online post hasn't seen the show and may someday want to catch up, spoiler free, on the DVD's.
posted by The Gooch at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do we seriously have to sound an alarm every time we are having a conversation in public Just To Make Sure Every Single One In The Room Has Seen It?

Of course we don't "seriously have to," but isn't it merely a minimum of consideration that is getting in the way of senselessly (or purposefully) blurting out spoilers? I don't think it's too much to ask, but I don't tend to go on verbal tears that don't have room for other people.
posted by rhizome at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2012


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