When did our society become so afraid of spoilers?
This question came to mind in the past month, with the ending surrounding “Avengers: Endgame” and the series finale of “Game of Thrones.”
I had friends threatening to bring headphones into the movie theater to avoid hearing conversations of what might happen to their favorite Marvel superheroes. Disney created the hashtag #dontspoiltheendgame and even created its own arbitrary spoiler embargo, which coincided with the release of the second trailer “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which definitely spoils the “Endgame.”
There’s a part of me that gets it. I don’t want to invest a decade or so into a movie series or show only for some jackwagon to spoil the ending. I remember the “Snape Kills Dumbledore” video, featuring a guy ruining the twist for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” for people waiting to buy the book at its midnight release. It sucks to have something like that leaked. But I also don’t think it’s a deal-breaker.
It seems like pop culture goes through waves where spoilers are a make-or-break type of deal, enough where it becomes part of a movie’s marketing.
The 1957 courtroom drama “Witness for the Prosecution” had a post-credits disclaimer asking the audience not to divulge the ending. Three years later, director Alfred Hitchcock took it further, with ads for “Psycho” stating “If you can’t keep a secret, please stay away from people after you see ‘Psycho.’” There were stands with Hitchcock’s face informing the audience that they were required to see it from the beginning because “The manager of this theater has been instructed, at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theater any persons after the picture starts.”
I guess if you wanted to see your local movie theater manager get executed in the ’60s, all you had to do was sneak into “Psycho” after the reel started rolling.
Realistically, it was Hitchcock weaponizing the movie’s big twist as a way to get butts in seats early on in the movie’s run. And it worked. The movie made a ton of money worldwide.
In the late 1990s, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan stoked those Hitchcock-like flames with movies such as “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs,” which featured twists that guaranteed the audience had to see the films early so they wouldn’t be spoiled. Oddly enough, his latest movie, “Glass,” has a giant twist. Yet, I never a heard a word about people worried about that getting out in public when it was released.
With several huge series ending in 2019, including the ones mentioned, as well as “Star Wars” and “X-Men,” it seems like anti-spoiler culture is reaching a peak, with more studios releasing statements and PSAs begging people to not discuss big twists and the ending.
The big problem is that it’s also stifling talking about the movies afterward. If we’re not being jerks about it, is it OK that we discuss the pros and cons of a movie or show in public without having to be sure we’re in private, like government officials discussing top-secret files or co-workers passing around a birthday card?
I don’t think it’s too much to ask the following: If you don’t want something spoiled, use due diligence (Stay away from social media and put in headphones at work if a particular show or movie comes up). If you’ve seen something, do a cursory check at work that you’re not spoiling it for someone else.
Otherwise, I think it’s fair game for discussion. Let’s stop taking it too far.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live