Avoiding Spoilers: Constant Battle, or Wave the White Flag?

Movies Television
"Spoilers!" in Gallifreyan. Image produced by program at http://www.shermansplanet.com/gallifreyan
“Spoilers!” in Gallifreyan. Image produced by program at http://www.shermansplanet.com/gallifreyan

Not having cable or satellite anymore, I’m constantly trying to avoid spoilers. Even if I manage to watch a show the very next day after it airs, on the network’s website or on Hulu, I still have to avoid spoilers from the people who saw it live. And then there are the series that I watch marathon-style, like I did last summer with The IT Crowd. There are also those that I get behind on, and have to catch up long after everyone is debating what happens next. *cough* Doctor Who *cough*

I hate spoilers. Hate them with a passion. Thus I appreciate River Song all that much more. Once I know enough about a show or a movie that I know I want to see it, I don’t want to learn anything more. I want the story to unfold for me as it was intended. But with the internet, it’s very difficult to avoid spoilers. Most people are considerate and talk about things in vague language, or they’ll give plenty of spoiler warnings so people like me can avert our eyes or skip a few paragraphs down.

I’ve just about made an art out of avoiding spoilers. If I spot the name of a television show or movie that I haven’t seen yet, I automatically avert my eyes. If people start talking about it, yes, I’m that annoying person who says, “Don’t ruin it for me please!” and then sticks her fingers in her ears and goes, “La la la, I can’t hear you!” Fortunately Rory feels the same way, so we also work hard not to ruin things for each other. He accidentally learned something about Doctor Who, for example, but kept it from me so I could fully enjoy it.

What do you all do about spoilers? I know some people, including some friends of mine, who actively seek out spoilers. They want to know everything they can as soon as they can. I guess it’s akin to reading the last page of the book first. But I like the suspense, and I like stories to unfold as they were intended.

I figure there are three categories of people, with regard to spoilers. Group one is full of people like me. We avoid spoilers as much as possible, and get genuinely upset when something is ruined for us. Group two avoids spoilers when possible, but doesn’t sweat it if they accidentally learn something ahead of time. And group three seeks out spoilers, eating up as much as they can.

Which group are you in? Is there a fourth group I didn’t think of? What is the worst thing that has been spoiled for you? I look forward to your responses, while I sit here, finally caught up on Doctor Who and Call the Midwife, keeping my mouth shut for the benefit of others.

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5 thoughts on “Avoiding Spoilers: Constant Battle, or Wave the White Flag?

  1. The fourth kind (and the worst) is the kind that actively tries to expose others to spoilers…. I am between group 1 and 2, depending on what exactly is spoiled. But for shows that I really enjoy, I even avoid the episode trailers.

  2. I am in the first group. I would much prefer to let the story unfold as it was intended. However, sometimes the long gap in production for those British shows, particularly Doctor Who, gets too long for me, and I cave and read something. Usually it’s only midly spoilerrific, but I almost always regret it. Then I go back to solidly avoiding spoilers for as long as I can. I’m also too impatient/eager to avoid trailers and “Next time” previews.

    The worst for me was Sherlock spoilers. I’m in the US, and when Season 2 was released in the UK, there were reactions and gifs all over the place as viewers processed the big surprise. I was spoiled for that dramatic ending before I even had a chance to know there was something to avoid. That was a big spoiler I really wish I hadn’t seen.

  3. It’s fair to say that I am involved in all three groups. There are some things I know I am going to see, so I have been known to not even bother with trailers for some movies. At the same time, I read io9’s Morning Spoilers every day, which means I am likely to stumble across something worthwhile for some media. But in the end, if something is spoiled for me, I shrug it off. Why? Because it’s not the end of the world. I appreciate the trip just as much, sometimes more, than the destination.

    For example, and I will avoid spoiling this because I don’t want to upset anyone, the revelation about Clara after the latest Doctor Who series. Had someone told me about it before I saw it, I would have said it was a neat concept that left me disappointed because there was no significant build-up for it. Having seen it for myself, I still say the same thing. It wasn’t crafted all that well.

    What really gets to me, though, is when people complain about being spoiled in their media. I read a comment somewhere in which someone complained about a post’s revealing the identity of the Winter Soldier in the upcoming Captain America movie. Technically, this has been public knowledge for nearly a decade, but someone said that it should have a spoiler tag on it. So the question for those who don’t like to be spoiled is…when should the spoiler embargo be lifted? For items that are transferred to other media, when should it be put back in place?

    I think anything aired on television should be fair game the next day – at the longest, maybe a week so that it can end up on Hulu or whatever. Comics? Next day. Films? Tricky, but everything is definitely fair game by the time it is on home media.

    1. Still, there is common courtesy. There are movies decades old that I still haven’t seen that I am likely to see at some point. So mentioning the name of the movie or show a sentence or two before revealing any spoilers would be nice for those of us who will just stop reading if we see the title.

      Great discussion, guys!

      1. Wow, Jenny, that’s pretty hardcore. I’m not sure I can agree that common courtesy can be invoked here, though. After all, we live in a culture where spoilers have become references, such as Star Wars and Citizen Kane. Spoilers are pretty much taken for granted now, and I think it’s primarily because of the internet cast light on the fact that our media consumption is so asynchronous that the spoiler thing has even become an issue. Now I definitely agree that a person should be able to consume media in as pure a fashion as one wants, but there comes a point in time when the burden of effort for avoiding spoilers falls squarely on the shoulders of those wishing not to know them and not on the shoulders of those who know them.

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