There is a prevailing gripe in our society today about specific events in a story, television episode, or movie being “spoiled” by people revealing certain information central to the plot. This has become such a trend that it is a recurring joke on the BBC show Doctor Who, in which the time traveling character River Song (the woman in the picture) responds to any questions about the future with a smile and simply states in a sultry tone, “Spoilers.” But why is it that an entire story or experience can be spoiled by the knowledge of a certain twist or event in a story? If said story relies solely on that one revelation or plot point for the majority of its content or worth, is it really a story that needs to be told in the first place?
There is a veritable pantheon of famous spoilers, most of which came about in the last forty years and are found in films. Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Bruce Willis’s character is revealed to be a ghost at the end of The Sixth Sense, Michael Bay has never directed a movie with substance. Well, that last one isn’t necessarily a spoiler; actually, one might call it an opinion, BUT IT’S MINE SO IT’S RIGHT. Anyway, spoilers have become so commonplace in our popular culture that it is a near necessity to post Spoiler Alerts so that the poster or writer isn’t attacked by fans of whatever story is being addressed.
I read and watch reviews and it isn’t strange for many reviewers to create two separate reviews: one spoiler-free and the other containing spoilers. I think this is a good way to handle the subject of spoilers, especially when pertaining to media that has been recently released. I will often watch a few reviews before going to a movie and then watch the reviews that contain spoilers in order to compare my experience with that of the reviewer. I think the key to being truly entertained lies in the experience and identification with the story or character.
As a reviewer, I find it necessary to put spoiler alerts in my reviews because I understand that people don’t want the plot “ruined” for them and I can respect that. I just think it has become a bit ridiculous that people are afraid of learning plot points. I will be the first to bring up the fact that last December, I avoided going on many of the Facebook pages I follow because they might have had comments or threads that spoiled the plot of the new Star Wars movie before I had seen it myself. I did learn a spoiler and you know what? It didn’t ruin the movie for me. The storytelling and acting was so well done that even when it came to the spoiler, I had a moment’s hesitation hoping that the spoiler I had read was some internet troll’s attempt to make waves. It wasn’t, but the amount that I enjoyed seeing the movie wasn’t diminished due to my knowledge of a pivotal plot point.
I will continue to post spoiler alerts because it is sometimes necessary given the content of what I want to talk about. Summary and plot are two aspects of book reviews that I believe to be absolutely crucial in wring a fair and honest review. No one wants to read a review about how “I was sad when this one thing happened in the middle of the book, but happy when it was revealed later that I didn’t have all the information and I was wrong. Four out of Five.” Context is necessary for a clear picture in which to provide my opinion.
I will not, however, post separate spoiler and non-spoiler reviews because the entire point of this blog is that I am reading books that have not been recently published, so you have as much of a chance of hearing a spoiler from someone you know or elsewhere on the internet as you do reading my reviews.
A quick aside that I feel I must address regarding the movie Pitch Perfect. There is a scene in which Becca says that Vader was an obvious reference to being Luke’s father because, “Vader, in German, means father. His name is literally Darth Father.” Wrong. Vater means father in German and it is pronounced “vah-tah”, not “vay-der.” Also, those who were involved in the writing of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back have said that the plot point wasn’t even written until as early as 1978, well after the release of the first film and in a subsequent draft of the sequel. The screenwriter obviously didn’t do their research and it is this kind of retrospective arrogance without historical context that really bothers me at times. I’m fun at parties, I swear.
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