There’s a ghastly vice that has insidiously crept into geekdom… spoilers. We geeks know better than any other fan group… just how important plot twists are. So much of geek culture is based on these twists. It’s what gives rise to debates and discussions that bring us together.
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in 2015, trolls began posting huge spoilers on random message boards, and even in replies to tweets that had nothing to do with the film! It got so bad that Harrison Ford himself had to address the issue during interviews, pleading with fans not to spoil it for others.
A few years ago, when The Dark Knight Rises was released, I took a moment to check social media in the hopes of some me-time. Instead, I came across a meme; a still of Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 10 Things I Hate About You, with the caption ‘That time the Joker and Robin went to school together’. It was an incredibly busy time at work for me and I knew I was months away from watching the film (I hadn’t so much as seen a teaser trailer) and here was a massive spoiler about a major character in one of my favourite franchises.
I was incensed, obviously, but had absolutely no way to channel my anger. By the time I watched the film, I had almost forgotten about the meme but when the final Robin reveal took place, I wasn’t as astounded as my sister, who had no clue and was thus overjoyed. I wanted that feeling and was never going to be able to experience it, because the internet had spoiled it for me. That’s infuriating.
It has come to such a point now that I actively try to avoid social media until I’ve seen the latest entry in geek films. Which isn’t easy because I actually work with social media!
Of course, this isn’t even going into industry-approved film-spoiling. The number of trailers, TV spots, character and location featurettes that are pushed out in the promotional stages of a blockbuster are enough to spoil a film well before any troll gets the chance. In fact, someone put together all the promo material for Avengers: Age of Ultron and actually managed to create 45 minutes of the film… which is a lot considering the film is only just over two hours. That is ridiculous and Hollywood really needs to look into it.
I was at a Comic Con recently and walked into a room that was showing the latest Marvel trailers. With no escape, I took to jabbering with my sister as loud as possible so we wouldn’t be able to register anything of the trailers. This is an exercise we must repeat every time we go to the cinemas, especially nearing the release of a new geek film. We close our eyes and talk loudly, inanities really, anything to drown out the sound. I’m sure our fellow audience members think we’re crazy but hey, at least when we watch the actual film, we are surprised from beginning to end.
Film is an altogether different beast from television, though. With TV, we’re battling weekly spoilers. No sooner has an episode been broadcast than stills are circulated on the internet. For those of us who wait till the weekend to catch up with our shows (and sometimes, two or three weekends later!), social media becomes an absolute minefield to navigate.
There’s also another promotional medium that contributes to industry-sanctioned spoilers – live-tweeting an episode. I live-tweet from events and it is immense fun so, I can see why stars of shows would want to do this. But, it is a real pain for someone who isn’t watching the show at the same time.
Most of the time, however, stars of geek shows tend to keep their posts deliberately vague so followers get an inkling that something big is about to take place on the show or that there’s going to be an amazing action set-piece coming up without giving away too much. They are respectful of the fans’ desire to enjoy the surprises in store for them.
I remember watching the first episode of season 3 of Arrow, when the Black Canary, Sara Lance was killed off. We had been busy again and only watched the episode well after it aired. I had been avoiding articles whose headlines screamed about a major character’s death which was aggravating. I was pleasantly surprised when Stephen Amell, star of Arrow, only wrote about Sara Lance’s demise the day after we watched the episode, something like 10 days after initial airing. He’d given the fans enough time to watch the episode before he bid goodbye to Caity Lotz, who portrays Lance.
Now, I don’t mean to say that there should be no conversation about geek films and television shows. As I said above, geekdom is all about connecting with others. But, it’s how we connect that has become the problem. Of course, we want to discuss everything in minute detail but there has to be a way to do that without spoiling it for others.
I recently discovered that IMDB had got rid of their message boards. I loved those boards. I rarely participated but I would almost always check the boards after I’d watched a film, any film, not just geek films, or a TV show, to see what others thought about it or whether anyone had an explanation for something that I didn’t quite understand. I am sad they’re gone because I feel like an important avenue for discussion has been closed down.
However, I can’t blame IMDB for closing them down either. They had become infested with trolls who either derailed conversations or put spoilers in their headings. I, for one, avoided checking out the message boards before I watched something but a lot of people don’t do that. They want some more information about a film or TV show before they dive in and for them it must have been awful.
The worst thing is, this habit of spoiling things for fellow viewers seems to be seeping into the real world, as well. I don’t personally know many geeks in real life but I do know a few who can’t seem to stop themselves from spoiling things for me!
So, my question is – what’s happening with geekdom? Why are we hurting each other like this? Don’t we want to see something and wait for our fellow geeks to experience the same surprise/ shock? Have we become so impatient that we would rather tell them everything first? Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that the definition of selfishness? By sharing a spoiler, you’re essentially saying: ‘My need to discuss this plot point outweighs your need to experience watching said plot point and making up your own mind about it’. That is not okay.
Geekdom is finally coming into its own. We’re finally the cool kids after years of being belittled and ignored so what is up with alienating each other? Come on, fellow geeks, let’s keep the spoilers away. Wait for everyone to watch the film/ episode or read the comic book. Or, at the very least, put a huge ‘spoiler’ sign before your message so people don’t accidentally read it. Remember, we are all in this together. Let’s enjoy it together, as well.