What Constitutes a "Spoiler"?

I generally think it’s rude to discuss endings and plot twists of movies without trying to ascertain whether the rest of the group have seen it or not, even if it is just by thinking “well it came out five years ago and everyone saw it”.

And 2018 movies are definitely not past the “it’s so old there’s no need to worry”-line.

And what is the purpose anyway? If a person hasn’t seen a movie there are very few contexts where talking to them about it makes sense other than convincing them they should see it, and for most people, telling them the plot twists and what the ending is is not going to endear them to the movie, or you. Even informing someone there’s a plot twist may mess with their experience.

In other words, I think DrCube is completely wrong. :slight_smile:

I sort of agree, and I sort of don’t. It’s not just that it’s a 36 year old movie, it’s that that particular part is a very well known culture reference. Other spoilers just as old aren’t public knowledge in the same way.

I think it also depends on where and how you are communicating the spoilers. If you are writing any sort of text about a movie more than two-three years old (except to promote a release/rerelease on a new platform) you don’t have to warn about spoilers. If you are discussing movies with a friend, just be courteous and check if they mind.

This times a thousand. But then, I frakking hate surprises of all types. Plot twists aren’t cute, and I read the last pages of a book early so I don’t invest anything in a character who is going to bite it before the end. (This doesn’t apply to GoT, obviously. There everybody is going to die! :smiley: ) (No, that isn’t a spoiler. Unbunch your panties. If you think everybody is going to live you’ve been watching a different show!) I refuse to accommodate someone who is purposefully ignorant of a movie or book after a period of time has gone by. I won’t vengefully spoil something, but I won’t go out of my way not to.

The spoiler issue (which is the source of my board name) is much less about any conventions regarding what is a spoiler or when you can spoil something than it is about how each individual feels about spoilers.

Broadly speaking, there are spoiler whores, who want to know in advance what happens, or don’t think that knowing has a negative effect on their experience, and spoiler virgins, who can have a work utterly ruined by knowing the spoilers.

As you might guess, I go to extravagant lengths not to view spoilers or hear spoilers. No amount of “but it’s been x number of years” or “it’s not going to change your appreciation of the work” is going to make me feel better about knowing a spoiler.

That said, I understand that studies show that I am in the minority, and I rarely call anyone out on giving away a spoiler, unless they are violating a specific rule that was in place.

I still maintain that for me, not knowing in advance elevates the quality of the work immensely, and my experience of the Star Wars trilogy was greatly improved because I did not know the major spoilers in advance.

IMHO whether a spoiler lessens my enjoyment of a movie depends on the situation. If I was to go looking for fan theories on Star Wars Episode IX, which is still many months away, and ended up reading about some plot twist, that wouldn’t lessen my enjoyment. If, on the other hand I was about to go into the theater and someone who just saw the movie yelled out the twist on their way out, that probably would lessen my enjoyment of the movie.

Yeah, but someone was bound to complain if I’d left that unspoilered. Unlike a complaint about the opposite.

I have two rules about spoilers:

  1. If the movie is recent, like within the last two years, long enough to have a run in the theaters, be released on DVD or Netflix or the like, and you haven’t seen it, I won’t talk about it. After that, though, you’ve had ample time and ability to see it so I don’t feel the need to tiptoe around things to avoid hurting your feelings. Spoilers are to protect plot points, not for you to keep me from enjoying public discussions because you’re too stubborn to see the damn movie.

  2. There are no spoilers for live events. You don’t want to know who won the event/race/game/award? Don’t look at the news, then. Live events are by their nature newsworthy and therefore are free to discuss. If you missed it that’s your problem, not mine.

So, Bob, Ted, and Alice are hanging out. Bob and Alice have seen The Incredibles 2. Ted hasn’t, but wants to, and cares about spoilers. Bob and Alice start talking about the film. What’s Ted’s move here, given that neither of his friends have any reason to accommodate his feelings? Just get up an leave?

“People who enjoy things differently from how I enjoy them are doing it wrong,” in other words.

Surely, everyone has seen The Wizard of Oz, right? I mean, even Captain America has seen it.

Well, no.

But surely, at least, everyone who has an interest in seeing it already has, right?

Actually, still no.

See, newborn babies don’t come into this world with knowledge of movies, even classic movies the better part of a century old. Everyone who’s ever going to see it (which is most people) has to see it a first time, sometime. And so, there are always some people who will see The Wizard of Oz, and who will love it, but who haven’t seen it yet.

The one study about spoilers that I’m familiar with is about how context changes things. What they did was deliberately spoil the ending of some mystery books in a bit of prose written as if it was part of the book itself. And, in those cases, those with the spoiler rated their enjoyment higher than those without it.

But that does mean people enjoy spoilers. They had to deliberately change the context to make it seem like the “spoiler” was just part of the work. It also is just a single reading. What about reading the story once not knowing, and then a second time knowing and getting more out of it?

The reason I don’t like spoilers is that it deprives me of an experience. In mysteries, it deprives me of the experience of trying to figure it out. With twists, I don’t get that feeling of being misled. I always can get the spoiled experience after I get the unspoiled experience, and I value experiences.

I’ll admit, I don’t really mind being spoiled on Citizen Kane, as I don’t think I lost anything. I never was all that invested in story itself, just the way it was presented. But I do lament I never saw The Empire Strikes Back not knowing about Luke’s parentage. But at least that was so important that I get why people talk about it.

The problem is with small things, where figuring out the ending is literally the point. Like with Danganronpa, a murder mystery game. I have that I got spoiled on that. The part that makes it fun is first predicting who will die next and then figuring out who the killer is before it is completely revealed in-game. But there are tons of fans who would hate if they were spoiled but talk about it openly.

Or just when you’re literally talking about how great this twist is and how I should experience it. How can I if you tell me about it? That’s just stupid.

But is it not for the better? If you know the plot twist going in, you can then see how it’s set up.

A spoiler doesn’t deprive you of an experience. It deprives you of the experience everyone else has. Basically, it keeps you from following the crowd, but it does create new insights and a different and sometimes richer experience.

If spoilers ruin a film, they why watch any film twice? Is it automatically a lesser experience? I find that when I rewatch things it becomes a greater experience despite knowing the plot.

I want to experience it the way the author designed it. Spoilers most certainly DO deprive me of that experience.

Precisely this. If M. Night Shyamalan had wanted people to watch a certain movie knowing a certain thing, he could have revealed that information in a title card, or in a line of dialog, or what have you. He did not do so. It’s toweringly arrogant to decide that you know better than him what information people should have to best enjoy that movie.

And if the movie is good both knowing and not knowing, then you should definitely still not spoil people, because the only way they can experience it both ways is if they see it unspoiled the first time.
It’s incredibly presumptuous for people to judge whether or not OTHER people should or should not be bothered by spoilers. If you just don’t care, admit you just can’t be assed to spent the 4 seconds of your life it would take to say “hey, has everyone here seen X”. Admit that you’re selfish and don’t care about other people. But don’t get on your high horse and pretend that you’re really making the experience better for us.
God damn this argument pisses me off.

No, it’s not for the better.

Yes it does. It deprives you of the experience of seeing it without knowing what is going to happen. Really, this fact is so obvious that I don’t believe you don’t know this.

Oh. You’re one of those.

Wake up sheeple! Unless you know spoilers you’re just following the crowd!

What a nonsensical idea. If you don’t know the twist is coming, you can’t see it being set up. If you can see it being set up, it isn’t much of a twist, is it? You can only see the twist being set up after you know what it is.


Not that I’ve ever noticed.

Again, this is nonsensical. Watching a film for the first time is a different experience than watching it repeated times. I wouldn’t call either one lesser. By spoiling the plot, you deprive someone of having that different experience on the first watching. Yes, you get additional things out of rewatching a film, but you don’t have the freshness of seeing it for the first time.

I think you must just be trying to be contrarian rather than making a serious argument here.

I lean on the very conservative side as far as spoilers. I’ll spoil the Iliad, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. I won’t spoil Great Expectations, Murder on the Orient Express, or To Kill a Mockingbird.