Spoilers Vs. Spoiling

The internet is rife with people ready to spout spoilers on any subject of choosing. Assholes who don’t care that there are people who want to go into a movie or start a book without knowing anything about it, they just have to proclaim their knowledge to the world, taking pleasure in affecting others experiences.

But while people think of spoilers in the “Snape kills Dumbledore” sense, big events, specific plot points, there’s dozens of ways to spoil a work for someone without even meaning to. Every piece of information about a work skews how view the work, takes away from the impact of seeing the work as a whole piece because consciously or subconsciously you’re waiting for that moment. It happens in trailers for movies all the time (for all that Age of Ultron was a mess of a movie I’m glad I didn’t see a lot of the trailers and got to be as surprised by Clint Barton’s family as the rest of The Avengers were) and there’s a reason I don’t like to read reviews of the things I’m interested in until afterwards (I do enjoy reading them afterwards. I get a lot of satisfaction when views line up with mine and I like seeing things from a different perspective once I’ve had the opportunity to form my own opinions).

This is obviously a specific level of spoiler avoidance and most of it is on me to keep away from the information but still a lot of people like to express their opinions on things in ways they believe are non-spoilery without realizing the impact they have. Because every piece of information skews experiences. If you’re livetweeting a show and someone sees that 15min into the show suddenly there’s a huge burst of OMGWTF tweets they’re going to be watching expecting that moment (which is why please always tag/announce your livetweets for easy muting!) and it doesn’t matter that they don’t know what the specific moment is, it’s enough to know that there’s something.

This isn’t a plea for no spoilers ever just shut your mouth and don’t say anything until you know everyone has seen it. That’s ridiculous and extreme. But this is a plea to be mindful of how your words can affect someone else’s experience. People who are assholes and don’t care about spoiling things for others, they aren’t going to change. But for those who think they’re being non-spoilery, an example of how experiences can be skewed.

I just finished the book Bloodline by Claudia Gray and I adored it to bits (spoilers for Bloodline follow. Specifically character development. Go read the book if you haven’t.)

Before Bloodline came out I saw a tweet about it that was essentially how this person loved Ransolm Casterfo, a new character introduced in the book. It certainly seems innocent enough except seeing that tweet meant I expected to like the character as well and in the beginning of the book he is presented as a pompous jackass. Knowing that he was a character people liked instead of reacting to him as Leia did, with annoyance and disgust, I was instead reading and waiting for him to show he’s more than he initially seemed because obviously if people liked him he can’t be all that bad. And redeem himself he did, rather spectacularly in fact, and I too came to love him. But I didn’t get that chance to hate him. To judge him on my own. And that’s fine in the grand scheme, it didn’t ruin the book for me by any means, but it did slightly spoil the experience.

Because that’s what spoilers do. For some they change the experience for the better. There are a lot of people who want to know what they’re getting in to before they go into a work. They want to look at the work through the lens of knowing it’s heading towards certain goal and it’s all about reaching them. But there’s also those of us who like to see a work unfurl with as few outside influences as possible. Who want to be swept away into a story and feel what the characters are feeling and know what they know.


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