Thursday, 17 December 2015

When Are Spoilers Acceptable?


The build up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens has come with a strong caveat among all anticipating its release. That being NO SPOILERS. We've all seen films that we've gone in cold and come out blown away by the experience. Sadly, those days are harder to come by. It is all too easy to bump into a major plot twist on the internet. Marketing for films has become so aggressive that sometimes the studios give too much away. News outlets scrape the barrel for sources telling us tiny bits about the upcoming blockbuster.

Then it gets released. Friends and colleagues watch the films we all love. They openly talk about it so much that if you don't see the big film on the midnight showing, every minute holds the threat of the surprise being ruined. We all get that. If anything, especially evidenced by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, people are being more cautious. People will ask "Has anyone not seen it?" in the group before powering into spoiler land uninvited.

My question is how long should that 'no spoiler' condition stand?

I was talking about The Last Samurai and cited a pretty emotional and powerful moment at the end of the film. The response I got was "Hey! Spoilers!" The person in question insisted I had now ruined his chance of enjoying that film. In case you don't know, The Last Samurai was released in 2004. Is a movie still under the spoiler caveat after 11 years?

So when can you speak openly about the storyline and plot points of a film without having to make a check on everyone's knowledge of it? Do you have to be sure that everyone who wants to see has seen it?

There are various schools of thought. You could go with the cinema run is done. Everyone had approximately 14 weeks to get out and see it. If they didn't, they can't have been that fussed.

Or should you wait until the DVD release is done? Let people who don't like going to cinemas have their chance, perhaps?

Maybe we should wait until it is shown on free to view TV. Then those who want to see it but can't afford cinema tickets or DVDs can. There is the chance that people want to see it but are too busy.

For me, I think once the cinema run is done, your chance to moan about spoilers ends. You had the chance to see it. Anyone publishing spoilers before that is just disgusting and disrespectful. I give you the prime example in the form of Rosie O'Donnell. She had seen a preview showing of Fight Club, which contains one of the great film twists, and had decided she hated the film due to the violence in it. She took to her TV show and announced the twist to the nation of viewers, in an effort to convince people not to go. She should know the effort people go to in making a story and putting it together. Needless to say, people woke up to the reality of her irrelevance and Fight Club is now a cult classic, if not one of the all time great films.

Stories are one of humanity's great creations. I remember my reaction to some of the iconic twists and tales that have graced a cinema screen. My reaction, whether it be gleeful, shocked or visceral, is the crowning jewel of that adventure. If anything, you should want other people to have that feeling too. Publishing spoilers is just robbing someone of the experience. That's not funny or clever. It is denying other people of the key element of a story. How it makes them feel. In a world where we've become increasingly numb, doing such a thing is a crime against humanity.

So no spoilers. Let's all enjoy the story like it was intended to be done. Like life, each moment unfolding, one after the other, until the tapestry of the tale is fully revealed.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I always check if whoever I'm speaking to has seen the film I'm talking about. If I so want to talk about it, I then ask them if they have any intention of setting it. If they don't I then go right in and talk about it. However I was talking to someone about Saturday Night Fever (a film I have always wanted to watch but just never got round to) I made this obvious to the person I was taking to but unfortunately they still spilled the end for me. I must admit, I was pretty gutted. Mind you, I spoiled King Kong for someone and I couldn't believe they didn't know the story already!! From then I always checked.

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