Tell me if this sounds familiar: You log on to the internet to check some news or to see what your pals are up to. You get reading and suddenly you come across the phrase SPOILER ALERT. It’s bold typeface staring you straight in the eyes, like a bull, waiting for you to make your move. What do you do? Do you continue reading at the risk of ruining something big? Or do you stop right there and move on to something else. It’s an everyday dilemma most of us put up with. But its how we deal with it is what I want to discuss. It’s time to calm down about spoilers.
Look, I don’t like to be spoiled as much as the next pop culture obsessed geek/nerd (the geek/nerd thing is a WHOLE different story. We’ll save that for later), but we’re getting really out of control about it. Not everything in a story is a spoiler. Now, yes, there are some certain revelations that work best if not revealed until the point of the story they are meant to. But if for any reason you find out what happens, that doesn’t mean its ok to go thermonuclear on the internet. Here is a list of things that are spoilers:
1. Things that reveal the end of the story.
2. That’s it
Most of the time they are not difficult to avoid but somehow someone will get righteously angry that something was spoiled and cause a ruckus. As a member of the geek culture, I encounter them on a daily basis, but the only ones I stay away from are ones that involve my beloved Breaking Bad. Traditionally, a spoiler is something that reveals a CRUCIAL piece of the story, a key plot point earned by the audience. A spoiler is not something that reveals what the story is actually about. Example: If I see on my DVR that the most recent episode of Breaking Bad is Walt takes the family on vacation, that’s not a spoiler. If I find out online that in the final minutes of the episode, Walt wakes up and the whole show was a coma dream from when he collapsed, that’s a spoiler. There is huge difference between information about the plot and a full on reveal. But I’m also a big proponent of the journey over the destination. Sure, we know where we are going, but what matters is how we get there.
As an avid comic reader, who goes to my local comic store on a weekly basis, I’m pretty up to date with all the news pertaining to my favorite series. Every so often a news site will “break” a story for what’s coming up in whatever company comic company. Recently, after months of speculation about the Forever Evil, DC announced that the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 will be the main villains and show up as the reveal in Trinity War. Now, I understand a certain amount of outrage about them outright spoiling the end of Trinity War. But remember, it’s how we get there that matters. This opened a whole lot more opportunities to what Trinity War would mean and what the actual story of Forever Evil would be. But people lost their minds with cries of “DC ruining for themselves again” and “Now I don’t have to read the end of Trinity War!” But here, all that information served was like something out of a movie trailer, which established what the story would be, and nothing more. It certainly didn’t ruin the issue of Trinity War or the first of Forever Evil. The spoiler tag was misused and people got upset over nothing, which is the norm in our internet culture. Another was when DC announced the death of Damian Wayne before the actual issue came out. Now knowing what was going to happen didn’t ruin the story for me, I was interested in how Damian would get into that situation. It generated interest in a character I hadn’t read in a little while. This is what comic companies have to do: generate interest. Not everyone can go around in blissful ignorance. Being the savvy culture we are, we can figure things out before they happen. It’s a gift and a curse. If you can go around, shielding yourself from the recent stories as if to have an unsullied mind, more power to you.
Spoiler outrage represents just having something to complain about. There are times when the complaints are justified, but more often than not it is merely the internet being the internet. It’s not so much about the spoilers as much as it is about the person that wants to be upset about it. In our constantly connected culture, it’s not hard to actually be spoiled, but it matters how one deals with it. Most news sites by nature are spoiler heavy just by doing their jobs by telling you what’s going on. Again, it’s what the reader decides on what a spoiler is and what it’s not. It all boils down to you. The news isn’t the worst offender though, not by a long shot! That goes to the people you know that can’t seem contain themselves in going on all the social media and make is their mission to let everyone know what they watched. Again, not everything thing is a spoiler, but they should know the sensitive nature of what they are discussing, no matter if it’s a comic, movie or TV show.
So who stands with me? I say enough of the spoiler outrage. It’s about time we start acting like good fans and enjoy the stuff we love, even if it gets spoiled. Don’t forget, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and if you are so worried about the end, just track down a plot summary. And if you do happened to get spoiled, take a deep breath, step away from your keyboard and go read something else. Unless it involves Breaking Bad, then send them to Belize.