5/15/2019

On being … spoiled, really?


By Ingrid Sapona

I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I don’t live under a rock, though, so I do know that a few Sundays ago fans were eagerly awaiting the premiere episode of the final season. But, other than the fact that the show is very violent and that there are dragons, I don’t know much more about it. As for the Avengers movie premiere that same weekend, the only thing I was curious about was who they’d cast in the roles of John Steed and Mrs. Peel. I couldn’t imagine anyone as dashing as Patrick Macnee or as sexy as Diana Rigg. Boy was I surprised when I heard the new movie’s about Marvel cartoon superheroes! (Surely I’m not the only person who thinks of a bowler hat and straight black cane when they hear of the Avengers.)

In the days after these (apparently) long-awaited premiers, there was almost as much talk about “spoiler alerts” as there was about what folks actually thought of the shows. I found the whole spoiler alert stuff over the top. Folks who complain about others spoiling things for them are self-centered whiners. If you didn’t get a chance to see the movie or the show as soon as it came out, that means something else in your real life took precedent. That’s life, folks. Besides, the shows aren’t like a total solar eclipse that only comes around to your area once or twice in your lifetime. Once a show or movie’s been released, you can catch it nearly on demand.

I think the burden of avoiding hearing about what happens is on the person who wants to remain in the dark. Of course, that would mean they might have to unplug from social media for a few days. Oh no! They might also have to avoid the coffee room at work if co-workers are in there, in case they decide to discuss it. It’s true, they may even have to avoid some traditional newscasts because the mandatory end-of-show banter might give something away. But relax … in a day or two the anchors will be chatting about some other non-news “news”.

I don’t see how knowing particular details – or even the ending – of a story really spoils it. Knowing that the ship goes down certainly didn’t spoil The Titanic for the millions of folks who went to see it. That’s because enjoying movies, shows, and stories isn’t just about knowing what happens or even the plot twists that get you to the ending. Besides, knowing what to expect can free you to pay attention in a different way. (The viewer who spotted the Starbucks coffee cup in that scene in Game of Thrones, for example, certainly wasn’t as focused on the plot or even the action of the scene.)

I think people who worry that their enjoyment will be spoiled if they learn anything about the plot or ending are missing the point. They don’t realize that in movies, shows and life, it’s the journey that provides the thrills, chills, intrigue, and satisfaction.

I imagine you’re probably thinking it’s a bit odd that the whole spoiler alert “phenomenon” bothered me enough to write a column about it. I’ve been thinking about that too. What bothers me is the amount of time and social energy that’s spent on things like superhero movies and fantasy dramas. In the meanwhile, folks are ignoring the very real, very terrible things going on in the real world.

Well, here’s a spoiler alert for you: while everyone’s busy escaping into fantasy worlds, folks aren’t paying enough attention to things here on planet earth. Indeed, the way things are going politically – and climactically – unless more of us start taking notice and action, I worry the ending may come sooner than we believe is possible and none of us are going to enjoy the journey.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona