One of the mainstays of life in the digital era is the “spoiler alert” — the need to toss out a disclaimer that you may be about to reveal a plot point to a movie or a film that someone has yet to see. Living in a time where social media has created 24 hour-a-day chatter boxes, while we also have DVR technology at our disposal to allow us to schedule when we want to view things, has made this whole phenom even more complex and confusing. How soon is too soon to talk about something that happened on a show on Twitter or Facebook? Is the spoiler burden on the spoiler or the spoilee? After all, whenever I don’t want something spoiled, I just make sure to stay the hell off Twitter or Facebook until I’ve seen it.
As someone who thinks entirely too much about some things, I’ve thought a lot about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate in terms of spoiler alerts, and I can say without hesitation that people bitching about having things spoiled has gotten sort of out of hand. If you truly love a show, you will watch it the night it airs, either live or later that night on your DVR. To not do so is to not care enough to have the right to bitch about a spoiler. Los Angeles Times Television Critic Mary McNamara appears to agree with me.
One critic of my acquaintance (OK, it’s me) was recently chided on two occasions for, among many other things, writing about season finales that had aired several days and, in one case, several weeks previously.
Come on, people. You can’t “spoil” something that has already appeared on national television. That is the purpose, the definition, of national television — the fast and widespread dissemination of information, including that the police may have gotten the wrong guy on “The Killing.”
It’s hard to believe that just a scant four years ago the Internet and every major media outlet in America lighted up with opinion and commentary three seconds after the final scene (or nonscene) of “The Sopranos.” Did anyone scream “spoiler” over the instant and endless deconstructions of that black screen?
Or, more recently, over the hectic response to the “Lost” finale? No, they did not. Because the people who cared about the shows watched the shows in real time, and the ones who didn’t were too embarrassed to admit it.
Here are three simple guidelines to keep in mind regarding spoilers. Adhere to them and the world will be a better place…
1. Like I said earlier, if you don’t want something spoiled, stay the hell off of the Internet.
2. If you have seen a TV show, you should wait 24 hours before revealing any potential spoilers online. For movies, this grace period should be two weeks after the release date.
3. Generalized commentary like “WTF THE KILLING?!” does not count as a spoiler, ever. Feel free to offer it up, and shut your pie hole immediately if you think about bitching about it.
See, it’s so easy, people. Now here’s a spoiler alert for you: The 1970 Spiderman trailer below is nothing short of awesome!
(HT: Pat’s Papers)