How Do You Figure Out the Expiration Date for Spoiler Alerts?

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So who’s this guy then?

Have you seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet? Considering the box office records it’s broken worldwide, it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t. Unless you’ve recently gone off-world recently, if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an argument to say that you’re probably not that bothered.

Which brings us to that very recent cultural phenomenon, the spoiler. At the best of times spoilers are a thorny issue. Some people actively court as much information as they can before seeing a film. They pore over the trailers, scanning the background for hints. They look at toy catalogs reveling in what’s to come, hoping to garner some clue as to what might happen. Other people cry foul if you inadvertently reveal the color of Captain Phasma’s wallpaper. Everybody has their own spoiler threshold.

When the film in question is one of the most awaited cinematic events in history, sensitivities are heightened, even to the point where physical violence is threatened.

In my last post, about storytelling aids, I initially included a joke that centered around Star Wars lead character Rey. Then I deleted it. Why? Because I was worried that somebody would call “Spoiler!” Three weeks after the film’s release, this is perhaps a ridiculous state of affairs.

Here at GeekDad we have assiduously avoided giving spoilers for the film, and up to a point, so we should. As a parenting blog, we should hold back longer than other outlets; we all have kids, we know how difficult it can be to get to the movies, especially if you have very small children, but there comes a point where we say, “OK, this film is a global event that is of direct interest to huge numbers of our readers and we want to discuss it with them.”

We think one month is long enough and so after 1/18/2016, we’re going to stop prefacing every reference to the film with “SPOILER ALERT!” (or at least we’re not going to feel bad if we don’t).

Tie Fighters were scrambled when somebody threatened to tell Kylo Ren the twist in ‘The Usual Suspects’.

Obviously, we’re not going to suddenly start spamming our readers with vital plot points, such as the amazing, saga-changing, end-credit scene where Hayden Christensen steps out of the broom closet*, but we may want to talk about what Finn’s parents might think about their son, or pontificate as to why Rey is so tech-savvy. Everybody else on the internet is already doing this, and trust me, from the discussions that go on in the GeekDad backroom, our contributors have lots to say on a whole host of Star Wars-related matters!

So there it is, a spoiler policy of sorts, but is it reasonable? Should all information of a spoiling nature be branded as such in perpetuity? How long is a reasonable length of time for keeping something secret? Does it depend on the medium? Are films more sacrosanct than TV series? With entire series being released all in one go, what difference does that make? What about books? What about films of books? Where does live TV fit in? Contest Shows? Sports? How do we stop Google Now telling us how Tottenham Hotspur have fared on a Saturday afternoon (Oh… apparently that one’s just me).

In a world where, increasingly, we control our own consumption of content, spoilers become trickier and trickier to navigate. What steps do you take to avoid them? Is there anything left from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to spoil? Please outline your thoughts in the comments below.

*If you’re apoplectic about this outrageous (and entirely fake) spoiler, one of us, at least, has had a sense of humor failure.

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