Film & TV

The Rules of Spoilers

The Rules of Spoilers

Spoilers suck, plain and simple. No matter how much you try to forget that he dies, or pretend that it’s an elaborate hoax, there’s just no escaping that knowledge and the sour, sinking feeling of watching the episode you’ve been waiting all week for, knowing it’s all building towards a moment outlined an hour earlier in some Instagram comment. They’re called spoilers for a reason.

Avoiding spoilers comes into two categories. First is the immediate spoiler, where you know you’ll be watching it tomorrow or something. These are fairly easy to avoid – just don’t talk to anyone, it’s too risky. However secondly, over a prolonged period of time, avoiding a spoiler for a show you’re saving until the time is right becomes another matter entirely. Short of wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with “I haven’t seen Breaking Bad yet” and staying away from the internet until you’ve seen every piece of film and TV released, there’s no sure-fire way of avoiding spoilers. So, to save ourselves requires trust and cooperation.

As important as avoiding spoilers is, not doing them is equally important. Just don’t be that guy. When someone vaguely mentions a film, don’t say “Oooh is that the one where this happens?” and then go on to outline the whole plot until someone breaks their rage-filled silence to tell you they haven’t seen it yet. When you watch an episode that’s not out in the UK yet, don’t take to social media to express your shock that “OMG he died!!” Easy. Of course, some things it’s assumed people have seen. Everyone surely knows that Darth Vader is Luke’s father, and that Snape kills Dumbledore. If you didn’t, well…sorry. But these are the kind of things you really should know, and are fine to talk freely about.

Then again, perhaps spoilers don’t matter. If you can convince yourself of this then you’ve given yourself the ultimate protection against spoilers. You might find comfort in repeating the mantra “it’s the journey, not the destination”, and maybe there’s some merit in this. Perhaps it is true that if something can be ruined just by finding out what happens at the end, then it wasn’t worth watching anyway. Similar criticisms have been levelled at Game of Thrones; where previously no character was safe from sudden death, the show is now teetering on the edge of doing things for shock value, relying more on the what than the how. Let’s not forget literally anything by M. Night Shyamalan, the director of the Sixth Sense often criticised for plots defined by their twist, highly vulnerable to devastation by spoilers and far weaker for it. And of course, there are films where you already know what will happen, and they’re still great. You don’t need to see Titanic to know how it ends (spoiler alert: it sinks), and that was the highest grossing film ever until 2009.

As convincing as that side of the argument may be, come on, it’s not fooling anyone. Don’t get spoiled.

Greg Barradale