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Time-shifters: you get one week
September 30, 2012 11:03 PM   Subscribe

How To Stop Spoilers from Ruining TV for Everybody
posted by paleyellowwithorange (118 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still like my proposal, which is that everyone constantly drops fake spoilers. This way, the people who're caught up will know which ones are real and which ones aren't, the people who aren't still won't know which ones actually happened.
posted by NoraReed at 11:05 PM on September 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


The "Spoiler" is a concept and phobia promoted by advertisers and promotion teams to encourage people to watch advertising laden television and high price ticket movies when they first premiere.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:09 PM on September 30, 2012 [26 favorites]


What we need is an html <spoiler> tag. Oh and you could use an attribute to say what show/movie and perhaps what date.

Anyway, I think the one week thing is kind of ridiculous. I personally like to wait a long time and then download a show a season or half a season at a time, then watch the episodes back to back. Shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Wire, etc are a lot more like video novels then a series of independent movies. I find the waiting a week to find out what happens next annoying.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]



The "Spoiler" is a concept and phobia promoted by advertisers and promotion
That's completely ridiculous. If people didn't like suspense in movies and TV shows, why would they even add suspenseful aspects to those things? Obviously people like to not know what's going to happen next.

Of course, spoilers are pretty easy to avoid in reality. The big problem I have is what happens if you want to discuss a movie or book or whatever with people who have already seen it.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 PM on September 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


THE TRUTH APPEARS AT FIRST AS MADNESS.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:22 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


People trying to avoid sports scores are hilarious to me. It's one thing to expect a grace period for a taped series, but we're talking about a live, one-off event. I'm always reminded of that episode of Seinfeld where he's taped the baseball game and keeps warning people not to tell him the result, only to get home, put the game on and Kramer immediately walks in - "Well, they really blew that one didn't they!?"

I used to not have a TV and have to wait a day or two to download torrents of Vancouver Canucks hockey games. I think you'd literally have to walk around blindfolded with headphones on to have a hope in hell of avoiding hockey results in a Canadian city. It's simply not possible.
posted by mannequito at 11:23 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find the general topic of the cultural shift in how mass media is consumed vs. previous generations given current technology trends to be interesting, but I don't see any reason to take seriously any of the definitive rules put forth in the linked article. "One week" as a grace period for spoilers is no more or less arbitrary than any other "pulled out of my ass" suggestion - I'm guessing my putting spoilers in this comment about major plot developments in the past seasons of "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" would not be met with kindly despite both being past the "one week" mark of airing.
posted by The Gooch at 11:30 PM on September 30, 2012


Okay so this is all ad hom and tu quoque and shit, but really, Gizmodo proposing a standard of conduct is... amusing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:31 PM on September 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have a better idea: If you're lagging behind on your favourite series, and for some reason feel like the world owe you to shut up for a week, you should PLUG IN YOUR IPOD AND STAY OFF THE FREAKIN' INTERNET UNTIL YOU CATCH UP!
posted by Harald74 at 11:32 PM on September 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's still ridiculous when people complain about "spoilers" for a movie or series that's more than six months old.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:34 PM on September 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why do people even bother to watch classic plays or movies, or read classic books? You don't see people staying away from Shakespeare because everone knows that Romeo and Juliet dies in the end?
posted by Harald74 at 11:36 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


BTW, I see on the bottom of the page that we pretty much had this same discussion in 2010 in the neutrally titled thread "Spoiler police, up yours."
posted by Harald74 at 11:42 PM on September 30, 2012


True, but originally Shakespeare's audience was unaware where the play was going they experienced it in the moment with suspense and while Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth is no less a masterpiece for society's awareness of the plot if there were some way to experience such masterpieces through naive eyes....well, I'd say there is something to be said for that.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:43 PM on September 30, 2012


You don't see people staying away from Shakespeare because everone knows that Romeo and Juliet dies in the end?

I'm only on Act III!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:45 PM on September 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


People still watch TV?

Where do I sign up to spoil TV for everyone that still watches it?
posted by b1tr0t at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Even with classics texts, I like to avoid spoilers. For example, my Ask MeFi from about a month ago:

Next week I'm going to see a theater production of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. I want to enjoy it, but I'm the kind of person who prefers to know as little as possible about a book or film before reading/watching. How much assumed knowledge would the original audience have had? Can I go in without even that?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 11:49 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember going to see The Wild Duck in school, after analyzing the hell out of the play beforehand. Even if I knew the conclusion, seeing it, that particular interpretation, was a joy and worth the time. There are other facets to the art of storytelling than just the reveal.
posted by Harald74 at 12:01 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's hard to talk about works in more than a superficial way without referring to other works, so it's really irritating when you can't discuss similarities between things because people don't want to be spoiled. For example, I recently saw Looper with a bunch of people and wanted to talk about it in relation to [other movie I won't name because someone might be vaguely spoiled about one or the other], but somebody hadn't seen [other movie] and that apparently put that whole possible line of conversation off limits. Like, seriously, [other movie] is [a number] years old at this point, and [major plot point] is [totally obvious or NOT?].
posted by Pyry at 12:03 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "spoiler" concept doesn't apply to classics because they are works of art worth experiencing repeatedly. This whole complaint applies only to stuff that's worth watching only once (if that).

If people on vanilla web sites frequently blab about shows you like, you're probably into what everyone else is into at the moment, some highly advertised product that rolls off the assembly line once a week for everyone to buy. Your viewing habits make you part of the daily consumer conversation. I'd say you just have to live with that. It's just one cost of being a fan of (google google) "NCIS: Dancing with the Revenge of the New American Idol Girl's Bones".
posted by pracowity at 12:12 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Spoiler alert: this show will be edgy in its first season, but once it has garnered a captive audience, it will turn to subtly shilling for its corporate sponsors, while critics will applaud the show's "maturity" and "character development."
posted by outlandishmarxist at 12:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "spoiler" concept doesn't apply to classics because they are works of art worth experiencing repeatedly. This whole complaint applies only to stuff that's worth watching only once (if that).

I remember being frustrated on alt.tv.simpsons back in the 90s. I enjoyed the forum for general Simpsons conversation, but continually had to try to avoid spoilers for episodes just aired in the US, which wouldn't air for six more months in my part of the world.

The Simpsons hasn't stood the test of time which Shakespeare has, but general consensus around here seems to be that mid-90s Simpsons bears repeated viewing.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:19 AM on October 1, 2012


That said, I didn't expect anyone to wait for me to catch up on the latest episodes. My frustration was directed at the TV people - I wished that TV shows would air simultaneously all over the world.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does the plot in The Simpsons really matter, though? I thought it was about the jokes and satire, not how the episode turned out in the end.
posted by Harald74 at 12:34 AM on October 1, 2012


Yes, yes, you're an enlightened being who is beyond the petty concerns of children with their blather about spoilers. But a lot of people want to experience a bit of media or content or whatever you want to call it without knowing the whole thing ahead of time, and taking pride or glee in ruining that for them is a surefire mark of a total narcissistic asshole.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [19 favorites]


If people didn't like suspense in movies and TV shows, why would they even add suspenseful aspects to those things? Obviously people like to not know what's going to happen next.

On the contrary, my opinion is that suspense is artificially added to stories simply to lure the audience into the next viewing. Weekly radio serials in the 1930s used literal cliffhangers -- dangling the hero or heroine off of a cliff -- in order to convince the audience to tune in next week and find out whether their favorite character lived or died.

Do audiences prefer that kind of ending, or do they only tune in next time to satisfy their curiosity? Advertisers don't care, as long as the show gets good ratings. The suspense of wanting to know what happens next is enough to build up an audience, provided the audience has no other way of finding out. It's cheaper, easier, and more dependable to rely on suspense than to try to produce shows that people will still want to see even if they already know what happens, so that's the kind of show that ends up dominating the market.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The problem I have with spoilers is the fact that where I live (NL) we are often 1 or 2 seasons behind the US. So I either avoid all discussion online or seek other means to follow a TV show.
posted by Pendragon at 12:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and those were the things I was trying to avoid hearing about.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:40 AM on October 1, 2012


Most movies have their own built-in spoiler alerts. I knew the "surprise ending" of the Stepford Wives minutes into the movie. Likewise with The 6th Sense. Films with surprise endings often project their endings well in advance. There are exceptions. I drink your milkshake.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 12:40 AM on October 1, 2012


Oops - I was responding to Harald74.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:40 AM on October 1, 2012


Backing up ceribus peribus: The thing to remember about all tv is that you're the thing being sold. You don't pay tv stations directly for their contect (except for "premium" content). Advertisers pay for your eyes.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 12:47 AM on October 1, 2012



The "spoiler" concept doesn't apply to classics because they are works of art worth experiencing repeatedly. This whole complaint applies only to stuff that's worth watching only once (if that).


ahhh. So we need a 'Classic-Alert'.
posted by mannequito at 12:50 AM on October 1, 2012


The thing to remember about all tv is that you're the thing being sold. You don't pay tv stations directly for their contect (except for "premium" content). Advertisers pay for your eyes.

How does that work when I get all my TV shows on DVD from the public library?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:52 AM on October 1, 2012


b1tr0t: "People still watch TV?

Where do I sign up to spoil TV for everyone that still watches it?
"

Anyone who pays for TV and then sits through ads instead of watching ad-free, torrented TV shows at the time of their choosing is a fool.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see why busting out with a plot twist, character death, or other important element of a tv series that has been off the air for a few years is any less boorish than revealing the same about a book somebody is reading.

Unless you know the person has enjoyed the story in question in its entirety, please be quiet or stick to general comments about structure or characters. If not, prepare for the Scorched. Earth. Glare.
posted by moneyjane at 12:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to not have a TV and have to wait a day or two to download torrents of Vancouver Canucks hockey games. I think you'd literally have to walk around blindfolded with headphones on to have a hope in hell of avoiding hockey results in a Canadian city.


Blindfolds and headphones might not be enough, depending on what city you're in. In Vancouver, you can tell the difference between a victory celebration and a defeat commiseration because in the case of the latter you'll smell tear gas. In Montreal, you'd smell tear gas either way.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the contrary, my opinion is that suspense is artificially added to stories simply to lure the audience into the next viewing.
So you don't believe that there is an suspense in one-off films or books?

I realize that there are some people who do want to know how a book ends, and isn't bothered by the knowledge as they read. But if you are one of those people, seriously, don't be so stupid as to think that everyone else is like you and the rest of the world is just engaged in a giant conspiracy to pretend they're not.
posted by delmoi at 1:00 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Simpsons hasn't stood the test of time which Shakespeare has, but general consensus around here seems to be that mid-90s Simpsons bears repeated viewing.

I just started to watch the Simpsons for the first time two or three weeks ago. I'm about a third of the way into season two, but real-world distractions have come up. It's funny enough, but I don't think I'm going to watch it again. I already deleted season one.

But don't spoil the mid-90s episodes for me!
posted by pracowity at 1:00 AM on October 1, 2012


In Vancouver, you can tell the difference between a victory celebration and a defeat commiseration because in the case of the latter you'll smell tear gas.

They used to say that in Toronto, everyone would take the next day off and have a parade if the Leafs won a game. In Montreal, everyone would take the next day off and mourn if the Canadiens lost one.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:03 AM on October 1, 2012


Hey America. you may find this hard to understand, but there is a place outside the US. An UnUS if you will. And we don't get to watch your great shows and films til ages after you watch them. So, please stop talking about spoilers as if it's somehow my choice that I don't watch them at the correct time.
posted by zoo at 1:06 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


But don't spoil the mid-90s episodes for me!

Spoiler alert: there is no Simpsons story arc to spoil.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:07 AM on October 1, 2012


I just started to watch the Simpsons for the first time two or three weeks ago. I'm about a third of the way into season two, but real-world distractions have come up. It's funny enough, but I don't think I'm going to watch it again. I already deleted season one.

I wouldn't go out of my way to re-watch the first few seasons (1989-1992) again - I tried to, when the DVDs originally came out, and was startled to see how dated they appeared, and how coarse the characters were (compared to their later development).

Season 4 is where it starts to come together, I reckon.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 1:08 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Simpsons hasn't stood the test of time which Shakespeare has, but general consensus around here seems to be that mid-90s Simpsons bears repeated viewing.
The X-Files seem to work due to good cinematography and sound design. It is hard to avoid falling on the floor and laughing at the idea that local law enforcement could obstruct an FBI investigation (or, conversely, that Mulder and Scully didn't get shipped off to an Extraordinary Rendition camp) today. Once you get past that, it still works.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:16 AM on October 1, 2012


In the end, the solution proved simpler than anyone had imagined: universal unalterable browser homepage, Spoiler Alert, blink tag, professional white background.
posted by mannequito at 1:22 AM on October 1, 2012


How ironic. If what was written in the article is true, then this **** (I'll let you guess the word) just spoiled Breaking Bad for me.
posted by Kamelot123 at 1:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I tried rewatching the X-Files a couple of years ago and ran into the fact that there' like a half-dozen monster of the week episodes after every mythology episode. So Mulder and Scully discover some horrifying secret of the conspiracy, and then a couple of months later they maybe get around to following up on it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:35 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the contrary, my opinion is that suspense is artificially added to stories simply to lure the audience into the next viewing.

I can't imagine a more narrowly drawn (and gratuitously cynical to boot) view of spoilers.

I just saw The Avengers yesterday, and worked hard at keeping myself unspoiled from the biggest movie of the year. (Of course, if I had been spoiled in the last couple of months, I recognize it wouldn't be the spoiler's fault anymore.) The overarching plot does not end with any sort of overt suspense, although a sequel has been announced -- the last scene is the least suspenseful scene in the movie. Further, the planned existence of sequels for several characters leaves little doubt about whether they will survive the film. And even without all of that metaknowledge, ten seconds of thought could lay out the basic plot arc of the film. But I was still really glad I went in unspoiled, because there were several delightful comic beats that were at their best because I had no idea they were coming: surprise is one of the most potent aspects of humour.

Spoilers can ruin the shock that is intended as part of an entertainment product; the most shocking moment on The Wire (in season 5 at least) isn't really a suspense thread as much as a total out-of-the-blue surprise, and would lose its' power if spoiled.

I guess I'm not sure which is sadder; the idea that we need a rule beyond "be considerate", or the fact that people will argue in favour of being dicks just to show off their anti-pop-culture plumage.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh great, another thread for the enlightened to tell us poor rubes that caring about spoilers means you're a tool of the Man or something.
posted by kmz at 1:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


People trying to avoid sports scores are hilarious to me.

I'm glad I amuse you. You try being a Bears fan on the wrong side of the world. They aren't one of the teams (Dallas, Patriots, etc) that gets massive coverage, so if I went by what was commercially available, I'd be able to see maybe two to three games a season, and only then tape delayed (possibly up to a week). Live? Games broadcast (my time) at 3 am Monday morning? I've got work in the morning. I cocoon myself until I've seen the Bears game.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:39 AM on October 1, 2012


This is remarkably pertinent to me. I just got yelled at for mentioning something about the ending theme to "Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", saying "It's all about how him getting what he thought he wanted and how it cost more than he realized he was willing to pay".

"It's four years old; the spoiler warning is off." was my reply.

Apparently that's rude.
posted by mephron at 1:45 AM on October 1, 2012


So, avoid giving spoilers for 1 week, and keep 'em off Twitter. Does this breakthrough really warrant an entire article?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:01 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Mulder and Scully discover some horrifying secret of the conspiracy, and then a couple of months later they maybe get around to following up on it.
The X-Files are about the ambient texture, not the plot.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:07 AM on October 1, 2012


How ironic. If what was written in the article is true, then this **** (I'll let you guess the word) just spoiled Breaking Bad for me.

Genuine thanks, I would have read the article but I'm behind on BB, so now I know not to.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


So you don't believe that there is an suspense in one-off films or books?

No, I'm not trying to say that at all. I'm just saying that most much of the suspense in serialized entertainment has been artificially added to promote sales. Not that it's the only use, but it's certainly a prevalent one. I know that people genuinely enjoy say, murder mystery books that would be pointless to read if you already knew "the butler did it", but is the mystery section of the bookstore so large because the appeal is that large, or is the section large because it's comparatively easier to churn out more of those books? Getting back to TV, maybe "easy to make" isn't the right description; do we have suspenseful episodic TV because that's what audiences crave, or are the studios just skilled at milking high ratings from that formula?

It's just like the question for other aspects that can be shoe horned in for ratings: do audiences really want movies that have gratuitous sex and violence or are those movies just easier to make? That's what "if people didn't like suspense, why is there so much of it" calls to mind for me. And I wasn't even broaching the subject of spoilers.

My point was not to dismiss the impact of being spoiled, I just wanted to point out that it seems like it's being overdone for sales when the whole movie or TV show is based around one surprise secret -- the string of Shyamalan movies, for example. That could just be my personal taste.

Being spoiled by hearing all of the good jokes from the Avengers beforehand, now that's the kind of spoiler complaint I can get behind. But when a movie seems to exclusively rely on a surprise as a gimmick, that's when I have no sympathy for the producers when people get spoiled and decide not to watch. It definitely sucks for the audience, who get deprived of the only good viewing of a story that has no repeat value.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


For all it matters to the spoiler-haters, Stories Are Not Spoiled by 'Spoilers'.
posted by pla at 3:24 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shakespeare spoils Romeo and Juliet in the prologue: "a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life." He lays out the entire plot in the first fourteen lines. In fact, I'd argue that all (but one) of his plays come pre-spoiled. Either it's a history (based on actual events his audience would be familiar with), a tragedy (they die in the end) or a comedy (they live happily ever after, usually after a wedding). The one exception is (*spoiler alert*) Loves Labors Lost, a comedy which ends with an unexpected death.
posted by zanni at 3:31 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's at least one other exception to the Shakespeare thing that I can think of--King Lear. In Shakespeare's sources for the play (e.g., Holinshed's Chronicles), Lear and Cordelia survive. Lear is restored to his throne, and Cordelia rules after his eventual death. A Jacobean audience would have almost certainly have been stunned to see a distraught Lear carrying Cordelia's body on stage and then dying soon after.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:45 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


NOT A SPOILER ALERT: What he said about Breaking Bad isn't true, so you're safe.

But for how long?
posted by saul wright at 3:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find that having things spoiled isn't always bad. Personally, as someone who's studied a lot of story structure, it makes things easier. About the only thing I do to avoid spoilers is that I don't check who was kicked off on Top Chef until I've watched the episode on DVR. But for a lot of things it doesn't hurt my enjoyment, and can actually help. I want to figure out how they are getting from point A to point B, so having point B as an unknown doesn't help. That is, I want to know "how are they going to get this done?" rather than "will they get this done?".

And that's part of why I like sports. It's genuine suspense for me, as I sit here with less than 5 hours sleep from last night's nailbiter Eagles-Giants game. Although even there I still like to go back and watch how they did it.

The one work I remember thinking would have been better if I hadn't known the ending in advance was when I finally read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But as these things go, wanting that not to be spoiled would be ridiculous, since the spoiler is a major part of subsequent English-language culture.
posted by graymouser at 4:10 AM on October 1, 2012


I have a cluster of people on my FB feed who complain about Doctor Who episodes being discussed after they have just aired on UK TV - and it is the exact same people who happily discuss US TV programmes after they have just aired on US TV and who have told me for years "don't go online if you don't want to get spoiled!"

I remember how it used to take months (if not years) before the latest TV shows and films made it to my little corner of the world. I wonder how long it will take before blockbuster openings become simultaneous live events across the globe - right down to the minute.
posted by kariebookish at 4:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A two step plan for not letting spoilers ruin your day:

Step 1) Relax. Breathe out. You're doing fine.
Step 2) What were we talking about again?
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:40 AM on October 1, 2012


I don't know. I try to be somewhat nice to people around me who haven't seen things, and I do know how they feel because I too fall behind on my TV programs at times, but I'm not going to wait a week to discuss my favorite program either offline or on. I do try to warn, like if I'm about to go on a twitter rant about a show I'll tweet first, something like, "Warning: I'm about to spoil the fuck out of this week's Dexter. Look away now."

But honestly spoilers don't bother me. For some shows I actually prefer to be a little spoiled before I watch. It's been a long time since I've actually seen an episode of TV where something so shocking/unexpected happened that hearing the spoiler would have totally ruined the surprise. Mostly when I hear a spoiler I think, "Yep. That sounds about right," and go on about my day. It doesn't ruin the experience of the show for me, so it's hard for me to understand that viewpoint. I respect it, but I don't really get it.
posted by katyggls at 4:52 AM on October 1, 2012


I read Gatsby recently -- somehow I missed being pushed through it in high school. Present day politics spoiled it for me. Buncha frickin self entitled 1%ers
posted by ook at 5:04 AM on October 1, 2012


If what was written in the article is true, then this **** (I'll let you guess the word) just spoiled Breaking Bad for me.

Come on, the first half of season 5 ended weeks ago. We should be allowed to discuss the ramifications of [SPOILER ALERT] Walter White being exposed as a Transformer.

More than meets the eye, bitch!
posted by Egg Shen at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2012


This actually seems like the worst compromise possible rather than the best one. You're not entitled to an entire week in which nobody says anything anywhere, even to each other, in case you overhear them, and you're certainly not entitled to an entire week in which nobody can say anything negative about you not watching something (that's just ... very weird). And even after the first week, there are ways for people to be considerate without being overly limiting about their own conversations. Furthermore, there's absolutely no reason to have a special rule for Twitter. You can overhear people in line at Starbucks, too, and that's less within your control than how often you choose to be on Twitter. (Twitter is not a necessity. You can take three hours off if you're on the west coast and really don't want to know what happened on Mad Men. At the same time, Twitter is not a necessity. You can wait three hours to talk about something you know might make a dent in somebody else's enjoyment.)

The best compromise, it seems to me, is to be considerate where you can (spiteful spoiler-giving is the same as spiteful anything else; it's ugly because it's spiteful) while also understanding that the world does not revolve around your personal viewing schedule. Once information is out in the world, you don't have the right to be protected from having it reach you. That doesn't mean people can't show some consideration, but ultimately, if you want to live in a bubble, you can build one more easily than other people can build one around you.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:36 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most of the time, dropping a spoiler is like pissing on shit.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:39 AM on October 1, 2012


Solutions:
1. Don't share spoilers
2. Don't read spoilers
3. Grow up, and realize there are more important things in life than caring whether Jeff eats that extra cupcake in the latest episode of "the Adventures of Jeff" 9EST/6PST.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:55 AM on October 1, 2012


I think the issue isn't so much spoiling versus not spoiling in today's new social media world, as much as it is that we haven't, as a culture, allowed for much of a scale in how we react to spoilers. I've seen equal reactions of disgust at posting a still of Gus Fring minutes after the Season 4 finale (a true jerk move) and people posting a funny Parks and Rec quote on tumblr a few days later with tags so it can be Tumblr Saviored if the user would just install the script.

As Eddie Izzard said of lying, "So there must be a difference in the level of perjury. Perjury One is when you're saying there's no Holocaust when, you know, 10 million people have died in it, and Perjury Nine, is when you said you shagged someone and you didn't.”

(I am not comparing spoiling Gus's swan song to Hitker, it's just a somewhat applicable quote.)
posted by itsonreserve at 5:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to have very little sympathy for people who freaked out over spoilers, but it finally happened to me in a very big way and I understood. Last year, we finally got around to watching BSG on Netflix and were up to about season 3. Friends were all great about not revealing anything, we avoided online discussions of the show, etc. Then we went on vacation and happened to watch something on BBCA and right after it ended, the opening of a final-season BSG episode came on. Boom! 4 of the final 5 Cylons revealed before we could even look away. We still enjoyed finishing the series, but knowing rather than wondering made for a completely different viewing experience than it would have been.
posted by gimli at 6:02 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, may I add, a week for whom? What if Doctor Who gets two weeks off between BBC and BBC America airing again, must the British wait two weeks before they are allowed to freak out over the fate of the latest companion(s)? Can I not talk about Veep for three weeks because that might be how long it is until it airs in Canada? I do know Canadians after all.
posted by itsonreserve at 6:03 AM on October 1, 2012


knowing rather than wondering made for a completely different viewing experience than it would have been

I don't think the question has ever been whether it's possible for it to be a bummer when this happens. I think the question has always been whether you have the right to be mad at anyone, you know? Or is it just a thing that's a bummer? Like, in this situation, I can't imagine a solution, really.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:04 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


pla: For all it matters to the spoiler-haters, Stories Are Not Spoiled by 'Spoilers'.

I've seen that study linked before, and based on that, and on many comments I've seen on here, it's quite clear that spoilers don't spoil stories - for a lot of people. But they really, genuinely do for me, and for at least some others. I'm not asking for a spoiler-free world, that would be ridiculous, but I do appreciate it when people try to be considerate and acknowledge our preferences (maybe by asking before spoiling, or not posting spoilers in unrelated threads - I obviously know enough to stay off Twitter and to stay out of threads on a particular topic).
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:22 AM on October 1, 2012


HOW ABOUT YOU ALL SHUT THE FUCK UP SO I CAN WATCH BREAKING BAD IN PEACE?

(And as a person that writes things; I'd prefer if people didn't spoil certain things for others. I find it interesting that so many seem 100% okay with away that moment of discovery from someone else.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:33 AM on October 1, 2012


(TAKING away that moment, I meant to say. What I get for editing and not re-reading. Ha.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:35 AM on October 1, 2012


I just got yelled at for mentioning something about the ending theme to "Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"

1) If it's freely available online, it's your own fault for not having seen it.

2) Everything is freely available online.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:36 AM on October 1, 2012


It's hard to talk about works in more than a superficial way without referring to other works, so it's really irritating when you can't discuss similarities between things because people don't want to be spoiled. For example, I recently saw Looper with a bunch of people and wanted to talk about it in relation to [other movie I won't name because someone might be vaguely spoiled about one or the other], but somebody hadn't seen [other movie] and that apparently put that whole possible line of conversation off limits. Like, seriously, [other movie] is [a number] years old at this point, and [major plot point] is [totally obvious or NOT?].

God, as a reviewer, this drives me nuts. I recently read a book whose entire concept was identical to Sliders. But the fact that it was identical to Sliders wasn't revealed until maybe a third of the way in. The characters treated it like it was a totally novel concept and painstakingly drew out the investigatory process and it would have really been clear and helpful to be able to say "This book is conceptually just like a 90s television series but the author treats the concept as completely novel in a way that is slightly patience-wearing" but because it's treated like a surprise in the book that becomes a "spoiler." There's not even cultural clarity about this, of course, because these things are often "spoiled" on the back flap copy and once a work gains any popularity, it no longer seems to matter. For example, in the first Twilight book, it's a surprise that Edward is a vampire, one which is withheld until the halfway point or so. But everyone knows it's a sparkly vampire book now, so we're allowed to talk about its relationship to other vampire literature.

The worst was one I read that liberally lifted exact plot points from Fringe (exact plot points--mouse over for spoilers) as well as a few other TV shows. But these plot pieces are both spoilery in the other narrative and better executed. I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise of Fringe for someone, but how does one talk about this book being totally derivative without it? It's almost impossible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


And as someone who writes things, I can't wait until my works are spoiled so I can talk about them like a human being instead of an innuendo robot.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The worst part of reading a FPP on spoilers is that I pretty much know how it will go. The butler always ruins it for everybody.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2012


But they really, genuinely do for me, and for at least some others.

I totally get this. I really do. But on the other hand, having to clamp down conversations so tightly that any time you're going to mention anything about any show or any movie, you have to ask everyone present whether it's okay to talk about it really, genuinely ruins the flow of conversation for me, and for at least some others. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that what you consider simple consideration can really inhibit other people's way of functioning, so it becomes a bit of a standoff, and it's tough for me to know why it's any more inconsiderate for someone to say something you don't want to hear than it is for you to demand that a conversation not take place in your presence. They're both impositions. I think people who really hate spoilers tend to assume that not saying anything is a neutral -- that constantly censoring yourself doesn't cost you anything. But it does, for some people. It really is a knotty problem, not easily solved.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't worry about spoilers at all. I choose not to see movies on the night they open, I choose to only watch television through Netflix and therefore have to wait a year or more sometimes to find out what happens next--I can stay off the Internet and away from entertainment media, or I can just not worry about it.

Then there's the other option, which is to be angry to some degree about it, and I just can't relate to that. And don't get me wrong, I'm really angry about a lot of things all the time, but knowing what happened in Season Four of Mad Men or Season Two of Downton Abbey before I've had the chance to plow through them, that's not worth getting bent out of shape for, for myself personally.

My laissez-faire attitude toward being spoiled also relieves me of certain television obligations, because I can converse knowledgeably about shows I have never seen and have no intention of ever seeing and even answer trivia questions about them, sometimes. Thanks, everybody on the internet talking about "The Wire" all the time!
posted by padraigin at 6:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I realized long ago was that there was so much more TV, so many more movies and nearly infinitely more books that I would like to watch or read but will never have time for. The internet just made that N times worse.

Often times all I know of something is the "spoiler" someone mentioned somewhere. And often that's plenty.

On preview, I feel like padraigin.
posted by chavenet at 6:58 AM on October 1, 2012


Linda_Holmes: It really is a knotty problem, not easily solved.

I hear you, and I certainly don't think my preferences should take precedence over anyone else's. IRL, it's something that people can probably sort out between themselves - if you and I were friends IRL we'd have worked out each other's preferences early on, and we'd collectively work around them. (And as I said above, I don't expect a spoiler-free world).

Online it's more difficult and probably requires a certain amount of give and take. On the one hand, people who don't like spoilers should obviously stay out of threads on that particular show or book, and I think it's reasonable for us not to complain if there's a spoiler for one show in a thread about a similar show.

On the other hand, I think it's reasonable to expect people to not post spoilers gratuitously, or in unrelated threads (over in Ask a few days ago, someone posted a spoiler to Breaking Bad as a comment in their own thread, which was about a music festival's entry policy).

PhoBWanKenobi: But these plot pieces are both spoilery in the other narrative and better executed. I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise of Fringe for someone, but how does one talk about this book being totally derivative without it? It's almost impossible.

Is it possible to just say that it's derivative, without saying what of? I guess maybe you then run into the problem of your review not really saying much, if it's too vague?
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:37 AM on October 1, 2012


Is it possible to just say that it's derivative, without saying what of? I guess maybe you then run into the problem of your review not really saying much, if it's too vague?

Because "this is derivative" doesn't really get the point across or spur interesting, useful discussion? This has come up for me quite a few times, actually--a book, say, where the twist was identical to the twist of the Matrix. Talking in innuendo usually just leads to wild mass guessing--often inaccurate guessing. And it sometimes simply doesn't communicate the severity of how derivative these works are. The one which stole from Fringe also cribbed Veronica Mars' date rape plotline and the initial hook of the show Roswell. These plot points were tracing paper identical, not just similar, and it's very hard to communicate that without drawing a clear comparison. And without examples, you run the risk of people telling you you're imagining things or not sufficiently defending your point.

It's like talking about the similarities between Eragon and Star Wars without directly referring to Star Wars. This is much more useful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:44 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the geekier forums that I am on has a strict spoiler policy. On books, there is a discussion thread where you can discuss the relative quality and give enough info on whether the book is good. If a book goes viral among that community, then it gets a spoiler thread where you can talk openly about what happened. In movie and TV threads, there's a bit of html code you use to keep the spoiler info within. But in no case does that apply to movies or TV more than a year old.

I had a coworker a few years ago who tried to bust my ass for saying Rutger Hauer died in Blade Runner. Well, not died, but you know. Sorry, but that one is way past spoiler protection. If you reach age 30 and haven't seen it, tough shit.

Hell, I'm even in a Game of Thrones thread in a forum where those of us who have read the books are quite delicate with those who just watch the HBO series. And when they complain about horrible things happening to favorite characters we tell them just wait, the worst is yet to come in season 3. You know what I'm talking about.
posted by Ber at 7:57 AM on October 1, 2012


I was really glad to be able to watch The Wire unspoiled - there were some significant events that were even more emotion-inducing when they came as a surprise. That said, while I appreciated my friends keeping mum (which they policed more than I ever did) I never felt like they owed it to me. They liked to keep me in suspense because they all wished they could watch the series for the first time again, and were excited on my behalf.

I understand that spoilers don't "spoil" stories, but I think that they can reduce the emotional effect. Maybe part of the problem with this discussion is our use of the word "spoiler" "spoiling" etc to refer to "revealing suprises." Just like a "spoiled" surprise birthday party can still be a fun party, the shock of the unexpected is taken away and that would have added to the fun.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi - I appreciate your explanation, thanks.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2012


Time-shifters: you get one week

Motherfucker. Did you just spoil Looper for me?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just take it at given that one of the consequences of living a time-shifted media lifestyle is that the rest of the world gets a head start on talking about that particular media product. Personally, the advantages of time-shifting, both in terms of convenience and the ability to get turned on to something via word of mouth outweighs the disadvantages of occasionally getting spoiled.

Something I've become aware of is the difference between cheap and gimmicky suspense used to drive ratings/sales of the next chapter, and well-structured suspense. In the last month, I just read two "novels" in which major storylines were deliberately unfinished for the sake of a sequel. But King and Hitchcock can still thrill me on second and third encounters because they do a brilliant job of pulling me into the subjectivity of the protagonists. Television cliffhangers generally strike me as more cheap and gimmicky, and usually serve as a turn-off when I encounter that ploy.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:37 AM on October 1, 2012


Spoilers and spoiler warnings and flipping out about them tends to happen a lot in reviews and review threads. That's terrible.

Good conversations about the story trump your need of a protective bubble like, a billion times over. It's a small, small bummer that can be easily avoided by not going to the fan site where people will be talking about these things, if it's really such a big deal to you.

Complaints about spoilers have ruined huge swaths of amateur criticism, which is like, one of the things the Internet is FOR, you know? That is a huge bummer.
posted by jsturgill at 8:49 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never understood that "spoilers make people LIKE things better!" study. Perhaps spoilers for a short story that I never had any intention of reading but was being paid to for some psych study would make me more interested in reading that story. But I know perfectly well when I am choosing to watch something if I want to spoil myself, and it's relatively easy to choose, either way. (I do try to watch final episodes the day after or so, but otherwise am not so picky.)

I don't expect the world to refuse to discuss things just because I haven't seen the latest Doctor Who (which I have), and I am careful to avoid twitter/etc afterwards. I don't read reviews if I don't want to be spoiled. I understand that it's possible that I will run across something, or happen into a conversation, or overhear it at a coffee shop, and that's life. But I expect that titles of articles will avoid spoilers, that text before the jump will avoid spoilers, and that people won't drop into an unrelated discussion and say "Did you see the last Doctor Who? It turns out that Amy regenerated into Rory and then a Bad Wolf ate both them AND the Weeping Angels!" (this did not happen). If people like spoilers, that's fine. I am happy to spoil people who ask me to. I'm happy not to spoil people who ask me not to.

When people aren't assholes, it's not too hard to avoid spoilers. The problem is that lots of people are assholes, going into discussion sites about something and bitching about spoilers or going into discussion threads about something else and dropping spoilers.
posted by jeather at 8:52 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to watch the TDF and would inevitably hear about the stage win and its effects on the standings way before I could watch it on prime-time.

Bicycle racing is even more boring when you know who's going to win. I mean, it's hours of pretty much meaningless give and take and the more or less predetermined few will sprint at the finish most days.

The real drama is
a) accidents
b) who gets driven off in the van for failing a drug test.


On another note, I dislike the fact that the "scholarly prefaces" to classic works of fiction so often give away key plot points. I mean, I realize that Great Expectations has been out more than a week, but the fact that I am holding it in my hand just might mean something, you know? However, I also realize that 99% of the people holding it in their hand are having to read it for school and appreciate any key fact for the book report that they might miss by skimming every other page.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2012


I still like my proposal, which is that everyone constantly drops fake spoilers.

This is what happens on torrent/hosting sites, isn't it?

Is it really that hard to avoid spoilers? I'm watching The Wire right now, and I have no idea what will happen.

The "Spoiler" is a concept and phobia promoted by advertisers and promotion teams to encourage people to watch advertising laden television and high price ticket movies when they first premiere.

... which goes hand in hand with the manufactured desire to stay 100% up to date on every occurence ever in "real time."

Tune out a little (turning on is optional). There's lot of quality "content" you're missing.

Spoilers and spoiler warnings and flipping out about them tends to happen a lot in reviews and review threads. That's terrible.

Yeah, I think the general Internet custom should be--if you don't want to read spoilers, don't read any articles about the subject. Publishers, don't post spoilers in places where people have no choice but to see them, e.g. tickers or screen on public streets or front pages of Web sites, etc.

That's all. Problem solved.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2012


Didn’t we just have this conversation?

Spoilers are completely unnecessary. You are not being repressed when you are asked not to give away the plot points of something. There is no reason for you to relate the plot when talking about a work, that’s what people do when they can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

Whining about having to hold your spoilers in is like complaining because people get mad at you for farting in public. Quit being such a bore.
posted by bongo_x at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2012


There is no reason for you to relate the plot when talking about a work, that’s what people do when they can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

On the other hand, every good critic ever might disagree with what you just said.
posted by jsturgill at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


anything that isn't just as enjoyable when you know what's going to happen is lesser art than something you can enjoy in spite of full knowledge of the plot.

that said, YOU GET ONE WEEK sounds like a good enough idea. I just wish people stopped doing the whole "spoiler alert: *says something incredibly revealing about a plot*" thing in podcasts. How am I going to skip over your spoiler? I don't know how long it is. Should I just stop listening to the podcast if I don't want to know what happens in The Dark Knight Rises? (I literally know every major plot event in this movie from podcast spoilers now)
posted by tehloki at 9:11 AM on October 1, 2012


There is no reason for you to relate the plot when talking about a work, that’s what people do when they can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

On the other hand, every good critic ever might disagree with what you just said.


Yeah, that's ridiculous. In fact I just had a review turned back to me with an editor because I needed to better support my thoughts with quotes from the text and examples. And she's totally right. That book hasn't come out yet in the US, but those quotes will make the review more helpful and my arguments more sound.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:12 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


By an editor, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:13 AM on October 1, 2012


There is no reason for you to relate the plot when talking about a work, that’s what people do when they can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

On the other hand, every good critic ever might disagree with what you just said.


No. Bad critics would though.
posted by bongo_x at 9:19 AM on October 1, 2012


No. Bad critics would though.

If you want to make some broad generalizations, it would be nice to at least have some evidence or examples to show us what you mean. Or would those constitute spoilers?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any good critic will tell you that the plot has nothing to do with the art of a movie. On an unrelated note, all of my favorite movies consist of wildlife stock footage and deep dialogue between ill-defined colorful shapes
posted by tehloki at 9:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no reason for you to relate the plot when talking about a work, that’s what people do when they can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

It is these sort of absolute, definitive statements that tend to annoy me when trying to discuss spoiler etiquette (any variation on "If a book/TV show/movie/whatever can be ruined for you by having plot points spoiled it probably wasn't any good in the first place" would be a similarly aggravating argument from the other side of the aisle).

As a counterargument, without giving anything away here, it would be pretty damn near impossible to discuss this past week's episode of "Sons of Anarchy" without mentioning a major plot development that occurred. I suppose one could try to discuss the episode while playing verbal gymnastics to avoid giving anything away in regard to plot, but it would be an incredibly silly exercise and certainly not a sign of greater intelligence.
posted by The Gooch at 9:41 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A week? I call bullshit.

_real_ time-shifting we should wait at least a month, or an algorithm that includes 1/2 the length of a season series. I mean, a week later for Dr. Who fans is like minutes.

Whoever makes the rule should not be the type of person who, you know, /watches/ TV regularly. They should be like normal people, and time-shift that shit to a few hours a month that we should take to watch stuff.

Am I TV snob? Absolutely not. But TV is just another sort of online content these days, and there is a lot of content to filter in a month. TV is not even the highest priority anymore.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi: I guess it depends on how much of your audience a) cares about Finge but b) is so time-shifted out of date that they still care about being spoiled. Personally, the fact that Fringe has been copied would probably prompt me to work through my backlog of episodes, and would be useful information for considering whether to buy the book. If you telegraph early that the book suffers in comparison to Fringe without detail, I can make a decision about how deep to read into the review.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2012


Gibbs is dead!





heh heh. Just kidding.
Go back to whatever you were doing.
posted by mule98J at 10:11 AM on October 1, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi: I guess it depends on how much of your audience a) cares about Finge but b) is so time-shifted out of date that they still care about being spoiled. Personally, the fact that Fringe has been copied would probably prompt me to work through my backlog of episodes, and would be useful information for considering whether to buy the book. If you telegraph early that the book suffers in comparison to Fringe without detail, I can make a decision about how deep to read into the review.

I think what's hard about the Fringe situation is that it's such an underwatched show, and the genre shift there was done pretty artfully and gradually. Though I don't care about spoilers, it's the kind of thing I don't want to spoil for others in case they do. So the whole thing made me want to be like "WATCH FRINGE INSTEAD IT DOES THIS BETTER" but it's hard because of the whole navigating spoilers THING.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2012


I don't mind spoilers but I had to laugh (albeit bitterly) when, after decades of countless pop-culture references to the Godfather trilogy going over my head, I read two separate spoilers of major plot points in totally unrelated articles the day I'd planned to watch it.

I have no problem understanding people's aversion to spoilers. I imagine it's something like how I feel watching a move in English with the subtitles on: knowing what someone is about to say ruins the illusion. I get quite wrapped up in stories that rely on tension and suspense, but if I let myself get even slightly detached about the story, that effect is ruined whether I know the ending or not. There's nothing wrong with knowing the good guy will win and yet allowing yourself to be stupid enough to wonder, "But will he?" Do people who refute spoilers, who approach entertainment from a mostly critical standpoint, not relate to that desire at all? Are they the same people who poke their friend in the theatre when (spoiler) the shark lunges onto the boat? "So obviously fake!"

As far as avoiding spoilers, these seem like sane enough guidelines, but I can't relate personally. One of the luxuries of being a recluse I guess: if I don't want to hear about something, I don't click through and that's the end of it. I don't face the less predictable conversational hazard of hearing inadvertent spoilers. I haven't even heard a single bar of "Call Me Maybe".


On another note, I dislike the fact that the "scholarly prefaces" to classic works of fiction so often give away key plot points.


That, on the other hand, is something I can't abide. Worse is reading a something full of someone else's marginalia.
posted by Lorin at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't even heard a single bar of "Call Me Maybe".

That’s funny, I would have said the same until a couple of days ago when I heard a couple of bars in a news story. I’m always wondering where people hear these things if they are not specifically looking for them. It’s not like I live in a cave or I've gone out of my way to avoid that song.

(My main reaction was "really, that’s it?" They don’t make stupid pop songs like they used to. I was expecting catchy.)
posted by bongo_x at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2012


Personally I don't like being spoiled. And I don't like spoiling plot points for others. So I try not to. I don't keep bang up to date with books and to me, it doesn't matter if something has been out for 3 days or 30 years. If I am talking about a plot point I'll hide it with a spoiler warning.

But to talk indepth about anything you need to be able to say what happened and either how that worked or didn't, so spoilers will occur. Once I know that a review is going down that route I stop reading until I've seen/read whatever it is reviewing.

It isn't that a spoiler will actually spoil the story, but if I like to know as little as possible on my first viewing/reading of something. I do reread. And I rewatch. But for that first viewing I want my reactions to be my own, not influenced by something I heard or read about online.
posted by Fence at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


People would call Shakespeare a spoiler today. He had someone come out and tell you the whole story before it even started. I maintain that the mark of a good story is that you want to hear it even when you know how it ends.
posted by dgran at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2012


I think what's hard about the Fringe situation is that it's such an underwatched show, and the genre shift there was done pretty artfully and gradually. Though I don't care about spoilers, it's the kind of thing I don't want to spoil for others in case they do.

I only started watching Fringe because the big spoiler was spoiled for me, and I thought "hey, that sounds pretty neat". (I was not otherwise spoiled.)

But I have noticed that type of plot showing up in a lot of YA lately (not, usually, all that well) -- that and generation ships.
posted by jeather at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't keep bang up to date with books and to me, it doesn't matter if something has been out for 3 days or 30 years.

It's fun to discuss something you're read or seen, and speculate about characters and plots in what you've seen and read. Analysis, public discussion, frequently brings out viewpoints or interpretations of subtexts that you may have missed. Most of criticism would not be possible if it weren't possible to discuss stories.

The best stories become models and metaphors for society. They are powerful tools for coming to grips with events or pressures as a culture: Apocalypse Now, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Great Gatsby.

It's also only polite to accommodate and be circumspect about things that people may not have had time to read or see (or hear). This is most true when things are new or still in progress. It may not be ok to talk about Breaking Bad, because it's still going on, but surely the X-Files or The Godfather is fair game by now. What about The Hunger Games? I don't know.

Politeness and accommodation does have to go both ways. It's not ok to spoil last night's hockey game, but last year's Superbowl? If you're a football fan and don't want know that before you get a chance to catch up, I'd say that you're well past a reasonable window when that should be embargoed.
posted by bonehead at 12:10 PM on October 1, 2012


I only started watching Fringe because the big spoiler was spoiled for me, and I thought "hey, that sounds pretty neat". (I was not otherwise spoiled.)

Yeah, likewise. On metafilter, in fact. But I figured I'm weird.

But I have noticed that type of plot showing up in a lot of YA lately (not, usually, all that well) -- that and generation ships.

Yeah, I can count five or six books of that type that came out over the last year. But of course, as a YA writer with a forthcoming genship book, who am I to talk?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:14 PM on October 1, 2012


Yeah, likewise. On metafilter, in fact. But I figured I'm weird.

I don't remember where I got spoiled for it, actually, it just seemed to be all over.

But I think that "hey, this show uses a trope you like and uses it well" is a pretty common hook.

Yeah, I can count five or six books of that type that came out over the last year. But of course, as a YA writer with a forthcoming genship book, who am I to talk?

I'm not anti-generation ships. I'm also not anti that other plot point (I love it, I just wish it were done better in most books -- one book I read recently was entirely a poor plot of YA Fringe, maybe the same one you read). I just think it's interesting that those are the two that have taken over YA recently. I wonder what's up next.
posted by jeather at 12:23 PM on October 1, 2012


So I'm the only one in the world who reads plot summaries for shows and movies ahead of time and still enjoys them? Someone up-thread said spoiling shows was narcissistic, but surely the conceit that no one will ever ever talk about something you haven't seen or read is the very definition of narcissism?
posted by maxwelton at 12:32 PM on October 1, 2012


Someone up-thread said spoiling shows was narcissistic, but surely the conceit that no one will ever ever talk about something you haven't seen or read is the very definition of narcissism?

Yes, that's a fair description of how the people who want to avoid being surprised by spoilers actually view this issue.
posted by jeather at 12:49 PM on October 1, 2012


Where's my attribution?
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2012


The X-Files seem to work due to good cinematography and sound design. It is hard to avoid falling on the floor and laughing at the idea that local law enforcement could obstruct an FBI investigation (or, conversely, that Mulder and Scully didn't get shipped off to an Extraordinary Rendition camp) today. Once you get past that, it still works.

The only dated thing about the X-Files is the lack of ubiquious cell phones and cameras. It's a noticeable hole in otherwise great TV.
posted by Mitheral at 2:14 PM on October 1, 2012


I remember how it used to take months (if not years) before the latest TV shows and films made it to my little corner of the world. I wonder how long it will take before blockbuster openings become simultaneous live events across the globe - right down to the minute. kariebookish

That said, I didn't expect anyone to wait for me to catch up on the latest episodes. My frustration was directed at the TV people - I wished that TV shows would air simultaneously all over the world. paleyellowwithorange

As an exUKer who has lived in NZ, now OZ and who likes US&UK TV the rise of spoilerific comments and websites has provided a challenge......... As I live in an interconnected world of human individuals I can never stop the conversation or the desire to be part of it.

Watching TV is dying as they have yet to figure out a revenue model that acknowledges the fact we are now a global audience. We are seeing the core passionate media watchers jumping ship first. However there is an avalanche building.

We are asking to have the choice to watch simultaneously with the rest of their passionate content consuming clan. Interesting this is done for sporting events. The Olympics , World Cup , EPL etc etc

Once we have the option to watch we can engage in the conversation. Of course many are downloading illegally ( who would have guessed .....)

ABC in Australia have really taken a lead (maybe globally) with the new Dr Who series. The show is available to view online just after UK broadcast.

It's my choice to get up at 8am Sunday morning and watch over breakfast. Reading the UK reviews, logging onto facebook, blogs, being a part of the shared experience is now possible.

If I don't watch then I need to avoid the conversation.
posted by doogyrev at 3:31 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that most media aside from television developed in environments where embargoes on discussion of the content were neither possible nor desired. Mass cineplexes are a recent development for cinema, and Hollywood often uses a limited-then-wide model for films they think could benefit from early critical discussion in friendly markets. Books usually have had a slow development through word-of-mouth. Periodicals were limited by distribution networks. "News" and commentary about performances was often more widely read than the performances themselves, a fact throughly lampooned by Dumas pere.

Television, IMNSHO, frequently gets away with shitty writing on the basis of a now-obsolete model dependent on scheduling scarcity. Romantic relationships are the worst, because you have two points of development separated by an entire season (if not more) of awkward and idiotic reminders that this is still an unresolved conflict. (The best non-example I've seen lately is the BBC science fiction drama Outcasts, which did a heck of a lot in the 8 episodes before its cancelation.) It's terrible pacing and character writing driven by season scheduling. It doesn't stand on its own two legs when the episodes are watched at a rate of three a week, and probably didn't as broadcast without high-rotation advertising for the "MUST WATCH TELEVISION EVENT."

I think some television is moving away from depending on the "event" model of creating suspense, and instead, creating stories that build suspense Hitchock-style through tight writing and development.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2012


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