Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rant: Spoilers and the Spoilees

Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to have a really long fuse regarding most things. But every now and again, something will set me off. So, when I talk about those kinds of things here in the blog, I'll be sure to note it in the title with the helpful indicator of "Rant:". When you see this, just know that I might be blowing off a little steam. Okay? Cool.

Today, I want to address the topics of Spoilers and those who like to ruin things for everyone by revealing them (said Spoilees). Spoilers are basically a revelation of key plot details in a film, book, television show, whatever that are discussed prior to the general availability of said film, book, whatever, to the majority of the public. Let me give you a couple examples.

Everyone in the world knows the final Harry Potter book is coming out at midnight on June 21st. The security around the release of the book is tighter than Fort Knox. No one is to sell the book until that time. The author is remaining tight lipped. The publisher has asked all media to not spoil the book's key plot points until readers have had an opportunity to get the book. So what happened today: two days prior to the book's official release? Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times published a review of the book and gave away critical plot details. Anyone who runs across the review, and many will since it is the New York Times, could have their reading experience marred by knowing how things end. And this reviewer isn't the only one. Dozens of Internet sites popped up early in the week, some showing full digital pictures of every "supposed" page of the book. Again, the only reasoning behind these acts is to spoil the finale for millions of readers.

On a much smaller scale, on the DC Comics Messages boards a poster by the name of 'mazingman' was posting with regularity spoiler filled reviews of key comics for the week. This poster would outline every detail of the issues, breaking it down by pages and panels. The kicker: the poster did this every Monday night/Tuesday morning but most comic sellers did not get the issues for sale until Wednesday each week. This poster easily had the inside track (either a DC employee himself, a retailer who had preview copies of the upcoming titles, or someone who knew someone with the inside track). Basically, thanks to this person, folks would be able to follow the plot lines of various titles without ever paying the money for the books. Clearly, this poster knew they were spoilers though and would mark his thread titles as such. Still, others would read those spoilers early and discuss them outside of the same thread - thus increasing the chances of unsuspecting readers of encountering the details early. Thankfully, DC Comics cracked down on this practice and initiated a new policy on their board: any spoilers prior to a book's release would be deleted and the poster would be banned from the board. Good for them!

This kind of stuff just annoys me to no end. Why do some people get-off on ruining things for others? Do they have some kind of medical disorder that prevents them from keeping a secret? I mean, okay, congrats to you for getting a hold of an early copy. Can't you wait a damn day or two to let the rest of the world get their copies too before you discuss it? Do you have no patience? Sheesh.

Now, I get that we live in an age of information - where anything that happens in one corner of the world is instantly talked about everywhere, thanks to the growth of media and the Internet. And the rationale is that there is an audience out there that wants to know stuff as it becomes available. But what happened to the element of surprise? It's one thing to reveal the details of something that is out before the general public already (like the meaning of Rosebud, or the identity of Luke's father, or the secret of The Crying Game). It's another thing to shout it from the rooftops about something that 99% of the population hasn't even had a chance to view yet.

I think the old axiom applies here: do unto others as you would wish they'd do unto you. Oh, and if you are a person who likes spoilers and can't stand surprise, do the rest of us a favor who do and shut the heck up!


apachedug said...

Good rant there, Martin! I'll never forget when "The Sixth Sense" was being released & saw a topic online about "surprise ending". I immediately shut down & decided not to GO online again until I saw the movie for myself.

My sister & I saw it on opening night...and being the big fat hypocrite I am, 60 seconds before his secret was revealed I turned and whispered to my sister "HOLY CRAP, BRUCE WILLIS IS ALREADY DEAD, HE'S ONE OF THOSE KIDS GHOSTS!" But is having a revelation (right before its revealed) the same as the spoilers you're talking about? I guess it depends on who you're with...

Anyways, my fellow DC Comics fan...KEEP RANTING!

Martin said...

Doug, if you had read the spoilers ahead of time, you would not have been able to hit that revelation yourself. That revelation on first viewing is part of experience the film's makers wanted you to have. That's why I don't like spoilers (and spoilees). They rob the person of that aha, oh-wow, oh-damn experiences.

apachedug said...

Martin, it's precisely why I avoided the "Battlestar Galactica" on the board we frequent. Since I don't get the Sci-Fi Channel, I was just beginning watching BSG Season 1 on DVD while those guys were commenting on Season 3.

I was taking NO chances...