Spoilers. At one time or another, someone, somewhere has spoiled something for us. Maybe it was who won Masterchef or American Idol. Maybe it was the major plot twist in your favourite videogame (like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic).
Maybe it was the bunch of trolls who went around yelling into loudspeakers about the Harry Potter deaths at the launch of the last book.
Maybe it was that lecturer in film class who told you the twist about the end of Sixth Sense before you had a chance to watch it (trust me, I’m never forgiving that one).
And maybe, it was who died in the latest Game of Thrones episode before you’ve had a chance to watch it.
(This is the part where I say there are spoilers to the final Game of Thrones episodes, The Flash, Arrow, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Terminator: Can’t Spell for Nuts).
The perpetrator of this crime may have unwittingly revealed the plot, or perhaps intentionally. But more often than not, these days, I’m seeing spoilers being revealed by media outlets, and that’s beginning to bug me a little more than it should.
Let’s start with the media first. Many media outlets (including Geek Crusade), will run stories that often require some background information from show recent episodes.
These stories, like it or not, appear on our social media feeds, together with things like our friend’s opulent breakfast, adorably cute doge, and the one friend who seems to always be on a permanent vacation.
Take a look at this:
While I know who that is because I’ve seen the episode, I appreciate the Independent’s attempt. It’s Game of Thrones, so we all know people will die. Other than that, it keeps us blissfully unaware.
Now look at this:
Thanks EW, now I know Sansa was raped, because Ramsay sure as hell wasn’t gonna flay her (yet). Of course, I’ve also read the books, so I know her storyline takes parts from Jeyne Poole’s, so maybe you could argue that I can’t really rage about that.
Fine, here’s exhibit 2:
Thanks, now I know who met a fiery end (not in the books), considering Melisandre was already floating the idea by Stannis the episode before.
And it’s one thing if these stories were appearing days after the episode airs. They’re not. The EW ones appear maybe five to ten minutes after Game of Thrones finishes screening… on the US East Coast. That’s the rest of the damn planet that hasn’t had a chance to watch it.
In this day and age of page views and other annoying forms of web rankings, media outlets are increasingly trying to cash in on the latest pop culture trends.
Some privileged outlets get episode previews early enough, and have one of the producers or actors answer questions about the major scenes in them (the “in the know” crowd). Others paraphrase and rewrite the same answers.
What happens then is a tsunami of spoilers flooding the Internet for the rest of the world that doesn’t have simulcast and/or has to work because we’re in a freaking different timezone.
As someone who has worked with online media for a fairly long time, I understand the need to get hits and what not, but as a fan, I also know how much I hate spoilers.
I’ve stopped talking to people because they can’t stop blabbing about movies I’ve yet to see. I’ve felt immense guilt at inadvertently revealing character deaths via social media while live-tweeting and watching shows.
Of course, that’s just one part of the spoiler machine – the other problem seems to be the showrunners and marketing team themselves.
Back before Arrow and The Flash ended earlier this year, the CW released a trailer for the “future” of the series. It was pretty cool.
The only problem? It showed Oliver Queen in League of Assassin armour, at a point where Oliver was still considering whether take over as heir to the Demon. So we know that happened.
Or the Arrow/Flash spinoff Legends of Tomorrow trailer… Which tells us exactly who Caity Lotz’s character is supposed to be, how she got to be there, and killed any of the suspense for us.
Lotz played the Black Canary on Arrow before getting killed early on in season 3, and it was always a guess if she would be taking up the role of Sara Lance, or someone else (because time travel). Was it too much to ask to keep that for the season premiere of Legends of Tomorrow?
Of course, we also have Marvel on the list, with their 2,001 trailers/TV spots/teasers of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Among one of the scenes teased very early on was a fight between Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armour against, well, the Hulk.
Now, without context, we could’ve imagined any number of scenarios – Maybe it was the AI villain Ultron controlling the armour, for example.
But then this teaser came along… and told us exactly what was happening. Thanks, Marvel. It was a possible scenario floated around, for sure, but some people like to be suprised, or feel smug that they guessed the right outcome all along.
And of course, it didn’t helped that they kept teasing a character death from almost two years ago.
But Marvel doesn’t get the award for spoiler of the year. Nope. That goes to Terminator: Genisys, for revealing a very major plot twist… in a freaking trailer.
Seriously, are you that worried no one is going to watch your movie? Of course, the other argument is that there’s an even bigger surprise waiting in store for us, but it doesn’t change the fact that that could have been kept for the movie audiences.
I mean, just watch any “Game of Thrones fans react to XXX” video, and you’d see how much impact scenes can have on viewers.
And in today’s age of connectivity and information, giving up social media until you’ve had time to watch your favourite show/play your favourite game/see your favourite movie isn’t really much of an option.
I want to be surprised. I want to be shocked. I want to feel my heart break when I see a beloved character which I didn’t know was going to die get his/her head chopped off in the most unexpected fashion. I want to feel like Luke Skywalker finding out Darth Vader is his father.
Don’t take that suspense, the thrill, and the occasional heartache away from us.
TL;DR: Stahp with the spoilers already, guys.