Last Sunday, I had a late flight, which made me miss a pivotal “Game of Thrones” episode. The minute the plane landed, I decided to cut myself off from all social media outlets, at least until the following Monday night when I had the time to catch up on the show. For an entire day I was walking to and fro with my headphones on, terrified of accidentally hearing someone’s conversation or capturing a glimpse of a spoiler on someone’s laptop.
Big cultural moments like the conclusion of the decade-long Avengers saga, or the eight years we’ve spent crying and cheering over the fate of Starks and Targaryens, have brought spoilers to the front of everyone’s minds. Our constant presence online only heightens this paranoia.
Spoilers have always existed, but it’s only recently that creators have started to comment on these issues, releasing heartfelt statements that beg people to protect their intended experience, as if a spoiler was enough to make or break something that has been years in the making.
— Russo Brothers (@Russo_Brothers) April 16, 2019
Just because the spoiler ban is lifting, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your fellow humans with respect and dignity during discourse. Or that you should run around intentionally trying to spoil the movie for people who haven’t seen it…#BeKindOutThere#NuffSaid pic.twitter.com/MMl6bpXQ4P
— Russo Brothers (@Russo_Brothers) May 6, 2019
This month is an exemplary one for spoilers and what they’ve done to us, giving us plenty of material to question the severity to which we approach this topic. A week ago, a man in Hong Kong was seriously beat up after watching Avengers: Endgame and loudly discussing key parts of the plot while standing outside the movie theater. Granted, that’s a very annoying thing to do, but it’s still particularly shocking that it’s even happening in the first place.
Studios and developers behind these monster franchises have some responsibility over this problem. HBO and Marvel have ensured that their marketing relies on misdirection and spoilers, cleverly guiding viewers a little off the mark in order to pull the rug from them the minute they sit down to watch the final product. If you’re unlucky enough to stumble upon a spoiler, then your viewing experience is a different one, diminished in a way.
Is there going to be some sort of federal announcement when it’s finally okay to talk about Endgame?
— Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) May 5, 2019
Knowing a key moment of a film or a show shouldn’t make or break your entire experience of it. By that criteria, no one should continue to enjoy Star Wars or the Harry Potter movies. Good storytelling should rely on more than a twist, but audiences and creators seem to be forgetting that, focusing on the big shock instead of consuming and making stuff that’s actually compelling.