In case you’ve returned to December 18, 2015 from another time or planet, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens came out today.

I’m excited to see it. Several people I know have already and they seem pleased. And it appears that all threats of boycott have fizzled under the almighty tidal wave that is the Disney machine and the most successful film franchise of all time as predicted.

Of course, everyone is also walking on eggshells, because: spoilers.

I’m a citizen of the Internet in almost every respect, but I do not give a damn about spoilers. It’s not just that Star Wars isn’t my sci-fi of choice (Alien, then Star Trek, then Battlestar). It’s that I think if a film or book can be ruined by me learning some heretofore hidden aspect of the plot, it’s probably not that good to begin with.

Case in point, all of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.

Good fiction is about character, not twists. Suspense plays a role in all the stories we tell, naturally, but it’s not at the heart of what makes a successful narrative. It doesn’t matter what happens in Game of Thrones if you don’t care about the characters–which presents a real problem in later books in the series as Martin introduces new people. It’s one of the reasons The Walking Dead has me on the edge of my seat every week while Fear the Walking Dead made me yawn.

And there’s something…immature about the online attitude regarding spoilers. There’s a shrillness to the demands for respect of one’s “spoiler bubble.” As if the maintenance that mystery was the responsibility of everyone else on the web. Now, yes, it’s dickish to deliberately make people unhappy by giving away the story, but it’s absurd to act like learning the smallest detail completely ruined your experience of the film or book in question.

There’s no doubt something in the immediacy of web culture that makes these tendencies particularly pronounced. But it wearies me and it is not so difficult to keep the peace. If we’re all respectful of each other and reasonable about our expectations, it works out.

And may the force be with you.



2 thoughts on “Spoilers

  1. I thought about this a lot while waiting to see Star Wars. For me, it’s not so much that a spoiler will *ruin* the story. It’s that I really enjoy the feeling of revelation. (I didn’t feel particularly surprised by many things in The Force Awakens, but there were things I didn’t know, & was glad not to know until I saw the movie.) Like, if we were to use original Star Wars as an example: it’s fine to know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. The story is still good. But it’s another thing to learn it for the first time, and to experience that within the context of the story as it unfolds.

    • Omg, spoiler!

      ;P No, I agree about the enjoyment of revelation. But I also think preserving that enjoyment–if I care about–is my responsibility, not anyone else’s. Especially online.

      I guess a counter example is my brother got spoiled purely by chance at work when he was walking by a table. Nothing he could have done about that and I’m sure it was annoying. But he also couldn’t flip out on customers for spoiling a movie.

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