A spoiler is an element of a disseminated summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot elements which threaten to give away important details concerning the turn of events of a dramatic episode. … Because enjoyment of fiction depends a great deal upon the suspense of revealing plot details through standard narrative progression, the prior revelation of how things will turn out can “spoil” the enjoyment that some consumers of the narrative would otherwise have experienced.
The spoiler: the ugly, scale-covered, long-necked, red-eyed, left head of the two-headed Beast of Fandom (the other being fanboyism). Some would say that the spoiler is the uglier of the two heads. I would be inclined to agree. If ever you’ve been a fan of any long-form storytelling, be it novels, tv, or movies, you’ve had to deal with spoilers. In previous decades, they were easy enough to avoid. You could always walk away from a conversation, or divert it into safer territory. You could avoid picking up that industry magazine or newspaper. The same went for TV news (they’re usually good about not spoiling things too early, anyway). Of course, there were the random IRL trolls that wanted to watch the world burn, but they were actually few and far between.
For the purposes of this post, I’ll be referring mostly to television, but spoilers are, as stated, a plague upon all media households.
Much like other areas of our pop-culture-ridden lives, the spoiler has been changed by the internet. With the advent of social networking, there are literally billions of people out there with the ability to live-update their every thought; be it what they’re wearing, what they’re eating, or what they think about the episode of Game of Thrones that is currently airing. Why don’t they put down their phone and just enjoy the show? I don’t know. Essentially, the internet has supercharged the Beast of Fandom’s left head. Instead of a regular old ugly lizard-head, the spoiler now breathes chlorine gas in a 60’ cone and does 15d6 of damage, with lasting effects over 1d12 + infinity rounds.
It’s not helped by the fact that because there is so much content these days that not everyone has the time or ability to get to their favorite show before the beast rears it’s head. Again, in days past, it was almost a given that if someone was a fan of a particular show, then they were there, sitting in front of that TV during the only air date for that episode that would ever happen, until syndication anyway. So, the day after, at work or school, there was an understanding that the episode could be spoken about, because you had to have watched it then. Sure, there were VCRs, but really, how many people knew how to program those things? Most people couldn’t even get rid of the blinking 12:00. Sidenote: When I figured out how to program mine, I felt like a friggin rocket scientist. Take that, VCRplus.
These days, about half of American homes have DVRs, which are infinitely easier to program than VCRs. Additionally, there’s video on demand, Netflix, HuluPlus, HBOGo, Roku, Apple TV, you name it. My point is, fewer and fewer people are watching TV during the appointed air dates. This effectively does away with assumptions that can be made about whether a person has watched a particular episode of a show. This, in turn, increases the amount of time between an episode airing, and when spoilers can be safely posted.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, people don’t wait… at ALL. Live-tweeting an episode as it airs – It exists for absolutely no good reason. I mean, yeah, I could completely avoid every bit of every social network I’m jacked into, but why should I have to do that? Seriously, do you ever say to someone, “You shouldn’t go into a bank, ever. It could get robbed.” No, you say, “You know what, people shouldn’t be asshats and rob that bank.” Don’t be a social networking bandit.
Additionally, I’m not sure some people understand that tweeting anything specific counts as a spoiler. People aren’t idiots. If you mention a character name in a tweet, and say anything that vaguely refers to something that happens to them (well, mostly bad things), then it’s a spoiler. For example, say you’re a Sons of Anarchy fan, and during the next season finale, you see the words, “Oh, Clay. I’m so sorry.” on your newsfeed, before you get a chance to watch, you already know that something bad is happening to Clay. It’s easily inferred. Now, when you finally get to watch the episode, you’re looking for something to happen to Clay, instead of enjoying the ride, and being blindsided by something crazy, sad, and awesome. It’s not fun.
Here’s what I propose. Before you tweet/status update/bebo/orkut/instagram, wait a week. Or blog it, for Zeus’ sake. No one opens up your blog as their homepage… trust me.
In short, folks, don’t feed the Beast of Fandom. It’s already fat and bloated with it’s own power. Help out a fellow fan. You had an awesome experience watching that finale, right? Why ruin it for everyone else?
That is totally all I’m saying. Hate me if you will. You can’t hate me more than I hate myself. HAH! Take that!
Sorry. I still extremely like you.