What Constitutes a "Spoiler"?

I know what the term means, but what constitutes a “spoiler” time wise?

I ask because, this past Friday night, I was involved in a discussion about movies with a few friends, and one of them got really put out when someone brought up the movie, “Incredibles2”, and divulged how it ended. Mind you, that is a 2018 movie that had its run in the theaters and has moved on the world of digital streaming.

It seems to me that, at some point, we can rightfully say, “No more ‘spoiler’ privileges!” My personal feeling is that, once a movie has had its theater run, “spoiler” privileges expire.


I ask because, as soon as Raven had her hissy fit, the conversation turned to just this question, and not everyone was in agreement.

How about doing the polite thing before discussing a movie and asking if the person saw it yet? That’s what I do.

This. I watch plenty of movies for the first time 5+ years after release. Many of them 30+ years after release.

There is some some limit. There are some movie spoilers that have just become part of cultural knowledge (e.g. Star wars family ties and flower-named sleds).

Since spoilers apply to entertainment, let’s move this to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

Complete agreement. Some details have migrated to public knowledge and it’s perverse to continue to treat them as privileged information.

Complete disagreement. I rarely see anything in the theaters, and this is setting the bar way too low. It would have to be multiple years after release to make me happy.

These opinions are very helpful because movies are my thing and, because my SiL is an Academy voter, I get to see a lot of movies while they are still in the theaters without even having to go to the theaters to see them. That has obviously skewed my outlook, and I’m not being sensitive to the perspectives of others.

I think taking BwanBob’s advice will pretty much prevent any future problems. Thank’s for the input.

Yep, that’s the way it’s done in my circles. Common sense can be considered as well, as in spoilers for The Wizard of Oz should really not be a problem.

Oh yeah, totally. Really the rest of us take for-ever to get around to watching a movie. I’m at a point in my life where I fill up my Amazon watchlist while watching the Oscars, because there’s all these movies I’m just getting around to even *hearing *about, and then I sit on that watchlist for a really long time until something that was nominated for an Oscar 3 years ago finally becomes free on Prime.

And I don’t even have kids. People with kids, they haven’t seen anything newer than whatever age their kid is, except kids movies.

So I agree with **Bob **- assume people haven’t seen anything, and ask if they’re up for spoilers. Lots of times I (as someone who hasn’t seen a lot of movies) will say “I’m never gonna see it so just tell me” but I do appreciate getting the choice!

I think it depends in part on how well known the movie is, too. You don’t need to spoiler movies that (nearly) everyone has seen, or at least knows about, like The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, or Citizen Kane. But if you are recommending some obscure German art-house film of the 1930s that few have seen, you might want to avoid spoilers even then.

Yep, ask first if they’ve seen it. If they have no idea about the movie, let them experience the shock and surprise like you did when you first saw it.

I very rarely watch a movie in theaters. I’d rather watch most movies when they come out on some streaming service. In fact, regarding the OP, I personally just saw Incredibles 2 a couple of weeks ago. I don’t blame Raven for having a hissy fit. I’d be a bit pissy if someone spoiled a movie for me, too.

Add me to the list of those who advocate asking if they’d seen it first before mentioning any spoilers. That’s the way I do it, as do my friends and family members.

This applies to books, too. Ask if they’ve read it before revealing any spoilers.

I am eternally pissed off at a guy on the radio who spoiled The Sixth Sense without warning. I did watch it to see all the clues he’d mentioned, but, dammit, I wanted to be surprised!

Reminds me of a time in high school when a friend saw I was reading a certain book and asked “Did you get to the part where the dog dies?” No, I hadn’t. :mad:

I think the fear of spoilers is overblown, and I’ve seen surveys that indicate most people don’t mind them and even like them.

I watch movies late, and I’ve had things like The Crying Game spoiled before I saw them. It didn’t affect my enjoyment one whit.

I avoid them because people get all outraged to have things spoiled, but it’s really nothing to do with ruining the movie: it’s because you won’t have the exact same experience viewing it. But everyone’s experience is different, anyway.

Yes, but if the movie is spoilered then it’s a lesser experience. It’s not ruining the movie, but it is fundamentally changing the experience, and not for the better.

I remember when Return of the Jedi had just come out. Some jackhole on the radio pointed out:

(and yes, I’ll do the nice thing here and put it in a spoiler box)

Leia is Luke’s sister.

I see no reason to accommodate others this way.

  1. If you can’t bear the thought of having broad plot strokes hinted at in advance of you seeing a film, avoid discussing it with people. Don’t enter a conversation about a movie you haven’t seen and then get angry at other people for discussing it in your presence. Generally, it’s on you to avoid seeking out information you don’t want to know. It isn’t anyone else’s duty to shield you from knowledge you’d rather not have at this particular time.

  2. If having broad plot strokes hinted at in advance of you seeing a film “spoils” it for you, let me tell you, that movie sucks. “Luke, I am your father” and “Rosebud” as mentioned above haven’t spoiled those movies in the slightest. They’re still amazing classics that people watch over and over. You know what movies people don’t watch over and over? Shitty ones. And their shittiness has nothing to do with audiences having a general idea what happens to the main character ahead of time.

That said, I try to be polite to people, but in my opinion spoiler rage and its associated coddling has gone too far. It simply isn’t that big a deal.

It reminds me of this stabbing incident. Lots of people don’t like spoilers!

So, Gilgamesh manages to get some of the Ur-shanabi, the “Plant of Heartbeat” which can make you young again, from the bottom of the sea; but then a snake eats it, and Gilgamesh loses his last chance at immortality.

Bummer of an ending, man.

The Peanuts Citizen Kane spoiler almost ruined the movie for me. Granted, the strip ran in 1973, while I was still in high school, but it would be another decade before I actually got to see Citizen Kane for myself. When I watched it, and remembering the Rosebud spoiler (which I won’t reveal here just in case), I was mostly curious when it would show up again.

But you shouldn’t have to spoiler anything for a 36 year old movie. For example, I’m not about to spoiler that Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker is Luke’s father. That’s absurd- anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock has heard that dozens of times through pop culture references by now.

I’d think the rule of thumb ought to probably be whether it’s been on cable/streaming yet, and if so, then it’s open to discussion without spoilers. Or maybe a year after that at most.

I mean, nobody wants people blabbing about “Captain Marvel” right now, but talking about “Wonder Woman” should be ok, as should talking about The Last Jedi.

Remakes are fair game from day one too- pointing out that Scar kills Mufasa in “The Lion King” isn’t exactly spoilering anything, since the original came out in the mid-1990s, even if there’s a remake on the way.