''Spoiler sites are for people who can't read a book without skipping ahead to the final page. We live in a world where everything is instantaneous. We want answers now.'' -- Isabelle Roy, SpoilerFix.com
Nothing beats the thrill of being surprised by a great plot development while reading a book or watching a television show or a movie. Yet, as Entertainment Weekly correctly proclaimed in a recent article, we now live in a "Spoiler Nation" where so much information about upcoming entertainment projects is available that plot surprises have become rare, and in some cases, almost completely extinct.
As a fanboy, I too can barely resist the temptation of spoilers. The lure of reading a script or seeing production photos (or even complete scenes from a movie) before it opens is sometimes too appealing to ignore. I probably knew every plot point in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace weeks before I saw the complete film in a theater.
I love being surprised and letting a story unfold for the first time before my eyes as I experience it the way the author or film/TV-maker intended. The spoiler-happy world in which we now live makes that harder to achieve.
One of my defining cinema moments as a child was watching The Empire Strikes Back on the big-screen and being blown away by that famous scene in which Darth Vader revealed his secret to Luke Skywalker. The moment changed not only the scope of the entire Star Wars saga, but it also shook up my expectations for what storytelling could be. Up until that point, I saw Star Wars as a simple but exciting tale about good vs. evil. Suddenly, it became much more complex to my childhood mind. That moment, sitting in that movie theater, can never be duplicated. I wonder how many young filmgoers today can have a similar experience.
Another memory that comes to mind is during my freshman year in high school, sitting in the cafeteria, reading Stephen King's The Shining, engrossed in the story of Jack in that spooky hotel with his wife and son, expecting "redrum" to be some foreshadowing of Jack's battle with alcoholism. Well, one of my buddies walked by, looked over my shoulder at the book and said, "Did you get to the part yet when you find out that 'redrum' is 'murder' spelled backwards?" I threw the book across the room in frustration.
I hate spoilers. But like an addict, I keep getting drawn to them. It's hard enough to avoid the Internet and its spoiler-filled fan-sites which are loaded with so much wonderful content. How do you avoid conversations with friends that might slip and reveal a crucial plot twist? (One of my sisters nearly killed me when I casually mentioned Dumbledore's death in one of the Harry Potter novels that she apparently hadn't read yet.)
The mere mention that Sixth Sense had a twist ending almost ruined that great film for me, because throughout the movie I was looking for it, anticipating it, trying to find clues for what it might be. My experience can never match those who saw that film for the first time with no forewarning that a twist ending was even coming.
As a fan, I love talking about the plots of movies and TV shows I've just seen or books I've just read. With digital video recorders, people now TiVo weeks and weeks of episodes, sometimes falling an entire season behind and wanting to hear no revelations about their favorite shows until they've had a chance to "catch up." I can't discuss Lost or Heroes or other shows around some of my friends and relatives out of fear of being attacked.
It's all part of the fun of fandom. But in the old days, a lot of it was just speculation as we pondered what might be in the next episode or the next issue of a comicbook or the next sequel. Nowadays, we can find out the details for everything only a few short clicks away.
Save me from spoilers, because I don't think I can save myself.