Thursday, 29 September 2011

Spoilers

Well duh! Have you not read the title? Possible spoilers, depending on how you look at it: House, Basic Instinct, Big Bang Theory, Hell Boy (the comic book), Harry Potter

Bye bye Martha.
I wrote on twitter, after watching the Last Temptation episode of House, that I am going to miss Martha M Masters (Amber Tymblin) , who was one of my favourite female characters on the show. A virtual accusing finger immediately rose at me and cried “spoilers!” at me. This, I have to admit, came as quite a surprise to me; not only did Amber Tamblyn, the lovely actress who played Martha, has given interviews, before joining the show, in which she says she is covering for Olivia Wilde who was pursuing a film career, but also her character Martha was written as a temporary replacement for Olivia Wilde character Thirteen, who mysteriously disappeared earlier in the series. Mentioning that Martha was leaving seemed as spoileristic to me as telling someone that the Titanic sank right before they are about to watch the film. Considering that the Last Temptation episode opens with the information that it is Martha’s last day, what would have been a spoiler, I think, would be if I said how she left, or more accurately why she didn’t stay. 

This wasn’t the last, and probably not the first, time I have been, arguably falsely accused of spoiling. Therefore I have decided to publicly mull over the issue of spoilers and ponder their nature.  

I remember my first ever spoiler; I didn’t even realise it was a spoiler at the time. I was about to watch Basic Instinct and a guy, who for some obscure political reason thought people shouldn’t watch that film, called out just as I went to the cinema “Catherine did it!” He himself hasn’t seen the film and had no idea who Catherine was and what was it she had done. Yet he knew that shouting that at people going to watch the film would spoil it for them.  Considering I knew nothing about the film before I went in, and could argue that I wasn’t entirely convinced that Catherine did indeed do it, when I came out of the film, I am not sure how effective that spoiler really was. I suppose by the time he finished shouting "It is probable that Catherine did it. However, the ending is open to interpretation" most people would have gone in or would have lost interest. "Catherine did it" may have been more efficient for protest, but frankly I think it didn't quite capture the point, and therefore failed to spoil, for me at least. 

The effort that went into that specific kind of spoiler, personally delivered, by a man who cared enough not only to research and find the right kind of thing to shout in order for it to be a spoiler, but spend a day, probably more, at the cinema, making a point of spoiling the film for individuals, I must admit, impressed me.  can't help noticing how difficult it once was to spoil something.

There is a great scene in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory in which Stuart (Kevin Sussman) , the owner of a comic book shop, gives Sheldon (Jim Parsons) the new issue of Hell Boy and tells him it’s mind blowing. Sheldon is outraged and cries “spoiler alert!” when Stuart tries to defend himself saying he didn’t spoil anything Sheldon replies: “You said it was mind blowing so my mind is going to it pre-blown and once a mind is pre- blown it cannot be re-blown.”

Pre-blown mind

Like Stuart I tend to get very enthusiastic about my TV and film and I would often nag and harass my friends to watch it, trying to lure them with similar promises of blowing of the mind or taking of the breath. Though I may talk a lot of a certain show, I can be accused of excessive teasing, but usually not spoiling. A friend who agreed to watch season 7 of House after my endless pleas, admitted to me she was surprised by how very little I actually gave away. True, the over enthusiasm and nagging may not be welcome either, but I can’t help it.

So what is the difference then? When does over enthusiasm become a spoiler and what really is a spoiler?

I should probably say that I personally have no particular relationship to spoilers. I won’t go out of my way to look for them, but I doubt that I would feel robbed of any joy should I be spoiled. If ever I am asked the question of whether I want to be spoiled, my answer will probably change according to what the spoiling is regarding. The surprise or shock value of some stories, is not a lasting effect and though it’s a bonus, it is not, in my opinion, what make a story great. In fact I am likely to go back to a story  I particularly loved or was moved by, and often my love an appreciation would grow with every time I return to it.Spoilers have become such a sensitive issue it is hard to decide what one should or shouldn't say. Is Sheldon right? Does saying Hell Boy is mind blowing count as spoiler? 

What about speculations and theories about things to come? When I was reading the Harry Potter books series, almost from the first book, I had no doubt in my mind that Snape wasn’t really evil. In fact I was so sure of it that I got angry when other characters in the book, particularly Harry, could not see that. Moreover, when I finished reading the sixth book, I knew in my heart, without reading the seventh book, that Snape killed Dumbledore at his own request. The Nathalie and I had a very strong theory of how those books were going to end. Sadly not all we speculated has happened, and to this day The Nathalie and I must believe there was a different ending that J.K Rowling, for one reason or another, decided to changed. Nevertheless we were right about Snape and Dumbledore. So, does being right in our predictions mean we were spoiled? Or is it just that we were, at least for 6 books, in tune with Rowling and felt connected to the book in such a way we were able to understand this line of reasoning and conclude how it will continue?

I can tell you that I felt incredible joy at discovering I was right about Snape. It was a great pay off to my faith in him throughout all the books. When my other prediction and speculation didn’t come through I felt greatly disappointed and betrayed, but that’s another story. 

I never doubted you!

What about trailers? Some trailers give away the entire film. Some that might not give away crucial elements of the film may inform you of twists. Arguably, whatever you put in a trailer gives away a part of the film, and therefore could be considered spoilers. 

Watching trailers used to be an important part of going to watch a film at the cinema. Trailers were magic and I got excited not knowing what trailers were going to be shown, and I loved not knowing what they were. The online availability of trailers often means that I have already seen them before going to the cinema and therefore have been unimpressed with most of them. Online trailers have spoiled trailers for me; and so I stopped watching them online and reclaimed the trailer magic. 

In the end the only person who can determine for sure what is or isn’t a spoiler is the person who experienced what it is that may or may not be spoiled. Only after watching can you know what a spoiler might be. Unless you research the issue like that bizarre Basic Instinct protester, but then you’re kinda asking for it.

So next time you wiggle your virtual finger at me accusing me of spoiling things, just remember if I watched it and you haven’t, it is more likely I would know better than you what would be a spoiler.I guess you'll have to trust me.

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