Rebecca Stanley: Mistake can leave you spoiling for a fight
There’s only one emotion that rivals the sheer excitement of a film, TV show, video game or book that you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for – and that’s the abject terror of someone revealing the plot.
In this digital age where social media connects us to anyone we may have just crossed paths with in the street – and their dog – you won’t see a post about the latest hit series without a comment or two of ‘NO SPOILERS!!!’
The group chats I’m part of with friends and family are strict ‘no spoiler zones’, with even the mention of a show being good being met with a ‘don’t you even think about it’ and a swift telling-off.
Accidental spoilers have caused falling-outs of mammoth proportions, and have even been turned into ammunition in a war among allies - think Inglourious Basterds but the scalpings and plotting are plot twists and sulking.
We’ve all been there.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to watch that hit new film, play that game you’ve pre-ordered or binge watch a TV show the day it comes out, leaving you with the mammoth task of dodging every piece of information about it.
Surrounded by the gaffer tape I’ve been using to keep my mouth shut and the glow of my television, I’ve wondered – what are the rules around spoilers?
It’s still debated what exactly constitutes a spoiler – is it just the big plot points?
Or is even saying a film was ‘good’ a spoiler?
What is seemingly mundane information or common knowledge to another may be the information it takes to ruin a viewing experience for another.
A documentary is based on real life – so is discussing the plot of a documentary a spoiler?
If so, is me telling you about my day a spoiler because you haven’t had chance to check my social media updates?
*SPOILER ALERT* I’d wait for the sequel tomorrow to tune in. It's a slow burner.
The consensus on sports is, if you didn’t watch the game, nobody else should be expected to refrain from discussing who won or who played spectacularly until you’ve had a chance to go home and scroll through catch up.
So why are TV shows and films any different?
When weeks pass following a movie’s premiere or a show’s finale, you can’t reasonably expect the internet to stay spoiler-free.
We can collectively agree on not discussing a flick for a certain period of time. But no social media user can be expected to keep mum forever.
With this in mind, is it solely up to us to protect ourselves from spoilers? Perhaps not.
Whether you deem something a spoiler or not, it’s important to ask another as their views may differ from you.
Just because it doesn’t bother you, doesn’t mean it won’t ruin their viewing experience.
Some argue that is takes as little as 24 to 48 hours to discuss spoilers, others one week or two.
A two-week gag order isn’t a huge demand for those of us itching to discuss the new flick.
And some spoilers may even be worth keeping secret for longer.
When a plot twist or character reveal is leaked before we have a chance to watch or read the story, a little part of it is ruined because we already know what’s going to happen.
Our enjoyment of a media text is entirely based on our emotional reaction to it – whether that be fear, shock, joy, sadness, or just plain awe.
Revealing part of a plot before someone has the chance to go on the thrill ride of watching it for themselves steals that experience away from someone that they can never get back.
Some spoilers might be worth keeping secret for a little longer than two weeks – usually if the plot twist is what defines the movie.
Movies and TV are sometimes one of the few joys people can find in otherwise busy schedules. Though a show or film may mean nothing to you, it could be the highlight of someone else’s week.
If you absolutely feel the need to talk or post about a plot point, it seems fair – and also just plain common sense – to be courteous and warn people before you reveal the big twist, or even ask if they mind you discussing a show or film in the first place.
You may love posting on your Facebook and Twitter feed, hitting everyone with ‘well you should just stay off social media if you don’t want to read spoilers, you should know that by now’.
But some people have to use social media for work, and should be able to without the fear of ruining a film they’ve been counting down to.
If you absolutely cannot wait – especially when you’ve seen the best meme EVER from the new Game Of Thrones episode – it’s easier to create dedicated groups online or in person made up of people you know have already caught up.
Spoilers make up a great big grey area minefield filled with tears and arguments.
Much like dating, everyone has their own preference of what you should and shouldn’t do.
And God forbid you get that wrong.
*SPOILER ALERT* – just play it safe and ask each and every people what they class as a spoiler before you dive right into a conversation.
It’ll save you a Walk of Atonement through the streets covered in rotten fruit - shame.