Monday, October 01, 2012

On spoilers

I consume a fairly large amount of media. I've read a lot of books, seen a lot of films, watched a lot of television, played a lot of video games, and seen a fair few plays and musicals. Despite all of this, there are massive gaps in my cultural knowledge. I've never watched a Marx Brothers film, only one Chaplin, and until a few months ago, hadn't seen any Buster Keaton. I have read one Jane Austen novel, two Dickens and very little other classic literature. While I'm vaguely familiar with the shape of much Sherlock Holmes, I don't think I've ever read a story to completion I haven't seen Rocky, the 39 Steps, the original King Kong, past season one of the Sopranos or Dexter, any of Boardwalk Empire, even a complete episode of Poirot. Hell, I still haven't seen the end of the Great Escape thanks to the video cutting out.

So it always annoys me when someone dismissively says "urgh, hasn't everyone seen that yet?" There are very few pieces of media that can be claimed that everyone has seen. Even pieces of culture which have become ingrained, such as star wars, still need to be watched at some point. If you'd gone back in time to child me and ruined the reveal in Empire Strikes Back I would have done... well nothing because I was pretty young, and my ability to get revenge was limited at that point, but I'd definitely be annoyed.

Look, there is more to most stories than the dramatic reveals at key points in the story, and I have watched many things that have been spoiled for me and still enjoyed them, but spoiling thigns can rob that key moment of surprise. I watched Planet of the Apes unspoiled and was actually surprised by the ending (although I have a feeling rewatching it would reveal it as a bit hokey now), and am glad I got that opportunity.

Yes, there are plots you can spoil for me if you want to, and theres not much I can do about it, and by doing so you will have made the world just a tiny bit special. Congratulations, I suppose. For me, I'm going to do my best to let people experience media on their own terms and then have a discussion with them about it.

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