On spoilers

Cedarlibrarian, a major Harry Potter fan, doesn’t care about spoilers. Her arguments are smart and convincing.

And yet.

I’m really not a very evolved consumer of texts cause spoilers bug the crap out of me. I want my first experience of any narrative—be it book, manga, graphic novel, TV show, movie, play, whatever, to be untrammelled by knowing stuff about it. I don’t read reviews unless there of something I’ve already read/seen or it’s something I don’t care about.

Frankly, I’d almost prefer not to know what genre it is.

I don’t want to know if people liked it or not. All the spoilery grumbling about the latest series of TV shows I haven’t seen yet drives me spare.1 Could you put all commentary on Heroes behind a cut? Please. Be your best friend.

How do you lot feel about spoilers? And why? No spoilers in your examples! Thank you!

  1. And I almost always haven’t seen it yet. We travel so much we cannot commit to watching a show at the same time once a week. We tend to catch up with stuff on DVD because we’ve become addicted to watching a whole series over a couple of days. I hate having to wait a week between episodes. Bugger that! []


  1. Dawn on #

    NO SPOILERS!!!! You can’t see the caps, but they’re there. After I got Hp7, I went wireless for the whole weekend. It was scary that a) I could actually do it and b) I had this idea that if I would log on, that I would be attacked by not normal popups…but Harry Potter spoiler popups!! It was horrible! Good thing I got through okay. And…even if people ask me for spoilers, I hate spoiling things for people. I think my own hatred of having things spoiled prevents me from being a spoiler myself. I have a friend who doesn’t mind having things spoiled for him. He’s the kind of person who actually reads last pages/chapters before he reads the rest of the book. It’s weird.

  2. Darice Moore on #

    I have a sliding scale of spoiler tolerance. I don’t want spoilers if the book or movie is one I particularly care about — particularly for books. I will usually even avoid reading detailed reviews for books I plan to read, because I want the experience of reading to be mine, not colored by the perceptions of others or by knowing what will happen next.

    Movies and television are more fluid for me. One movie I wish I hadn’t been spoiled for was Serenity — one of my friends let a specific fact slip, and the experience of watching would have been much more visceral if I hadn’t known.

    On the flip side, I don’t care if I’m spoiled for Doctor Who these days. I watch it, but the recent seasons haven’t done as much for me as that first new season did. So now I want to know before I watch whether it’s going to be worth it!

  3. Rebecca on #

    i hate spoilers. when i was watching farscape, i looked it up on netflix to see if i could order one of the seasons, and the tiny little blurb had a major effing spoiler in it. i almost died.

    i only read jacket copy (or whatever it’s called) if i’ve never heard about the book before or i’m just browsing. i sequestered myself while reading harry potter to ensure i didn’t hear anything. i avoid reviews too, not just b/c of spoilers but b/c i too don’t want my own opinion of the book influenced by what the reviewer thought.

    it’s part of my enjoyment of the book/movie/show, being surprised by what happens.

  4. Jonathan Shaw on #

    I don’t think I have a general attitude to spoilers. I recently read a long review Col Toibin of Ian McEwan’s short book, *On Chesil Beach*. The book may have been as much as a tenth of the book’s length and managed to reveal every plot point and most of the other interesting things. Yet when I read the book a month or so later, mysteriously enough, it hadn’t been spoiled for me in the slightest. It may be, of course, that it’s the kind of books that can be read many times, and I was getting my second-reading pleasures without having had the first-reading ones. I’ll never know, of course.

  5. Sash on #

    Do you think (especially in the case of novels) that there’s kind of a ‘lost art’ of reviewing? I seem to remember reviews were supposed to tell you about the work, and either entice you to read it or tell you it wasn’t worth your time – but without revealing the plot. I never read them anymore as they always seem to be ‘then this happens, then this happens…’ – and then (sadly for the writer) I don’t need to buy the book.

  6. Jen Robinson on #

    I’m like you, too. I can’t stand anything that resembles a spoiler. i’ve mastered the art of skimming reviews without really reading them, so that I can get a hint of an idea if it might be a book that I’ll want to read, without learning too much about it. with Harry Potter, I didn’t tell anyone if I even liked it or not (I mean, you know, until everyone i knew had read it anyway). I want to get lost in the story, and be wowed and surprised and immersed, and spoilers kill that. I also love predicting what I think will happen, and i can’t do that if I’ve had hints.

  7. Robert Legault on #

    The less I know about a work, especially a movie, the better. All I really want to know is the general sort of film (drama, comedy, adventure, horror) I’m seeing. This is difficult with today’s trailers, especially with comedies, which tend to give away half the best lines.

    With books I’m a little more tolerant, though I certainly don’t want to know whodunit or what the secret of the alien race is.

  8. robin on #

    Spoilers, ugh. And my worst encounter was my own stupid fault — right before I ripped open my season 1 veronica mars dvd, I decided I might as well watch a season 3 episode, just to make sure the show was worth it. ten minutes into the episode, there it was, a single line that revealed the season 1 murderer. And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to hide from Battlestar Galactica spoilers, especially when prominent actresses, ahem, start popping up on sucky new heavily promoted shows. It’s a hard world out there for those of us behind the times…

  9. dragonfly on #

    i was visiting my brother once and one of his housemates asked if she could borrow a certain movie from him. i said, “oh, i’ve been wanting to see that! maybe we (meaning my brother and i) could watch it after you.”

    when she brought the movie back (just a few hours later!!) she said, “oh, the end, when he died, i was just so sad.”

    i was agog as two gogs. (sorry, georgia nicolson reference.) just a few hours before she heard me say i hadn’t seen the movie!! i sort of did a goldfish face and then sputtered, “why did you tell me that??!”

    she couldn’t understand why i was so upset.

    to sum it up:

    i despise spoilers.

  10. Carrie on #

    I hate spoilers only when I’ve worked really hard to avoid them. For example, I didn’t know who died in HP6 up until about a week before HP7 came out (which is when I was reading HP6). Because I’d gone so so so long without knowing, I didn’t want it spoiled. But if I’d known before, then I wouldn’t have cared because then the reading would have been more about the journey.

  11. Matt on #

    “I want my first experience of any narrative—be it book, manga, graphic novel, TV show, movie, play, whatever, to be untrammelled by knowing stuff about it.”

    You hit it spot on. I like that sense of discovery when entering a story. I know not every story is supposed to be full of twists and/or surprises, but when the experience is new and fresh – well, that’s just a whole ‘nother level of enjoyment, for me.

  12. Celia on #

    There are some times that I don’t mind spoilers, usually if I don’t care that much about the book/movie, but at the same time I *love* when I get a new book by a trusted author, and can thus just read it without having to know *anything* about it.
    Movies, alas, are much harder to do that with, thanks to trailers and teasers all over the place. Bad as it may have been otherwise, the action movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for example, had a wonderfully set up ‘twist’ to the plot that was completely explained by the trailers, and when I watched it, I kept thinking how cool it would have been to watch that movie with no idea what was going to happen next.

  13. Patrick on #

    It’s worse when someone gives you ‘fake’ spoilers and I have friends cruel enough to do it. One time I had a friend say, ‘omg, it is all about the pink elephant, it is awesome!’ and there was a pink elephant and I spent the entire movie trying to anticipate how it came into the final resolution – turned out the pink elephant only had a cameo role…

  14. serafina zane on #

    i generally don’t mind spoilers too bad, as long as they’re sort of general. i will read reviews and jacket flaps, but not for sequels like HP7 or ect. i read spoilers on heroeswiki beforehand, but they tend to be more fun hints, such as *this character* meets up with *this character* or *so and so* goes on a quest. that i find more fun food for speculation.

    one spoiler that i think was horrible was the Lost season three finale. i didn’t hear about the internet leakage until after i saw it, but i felt horrible for people who did. that was the sort of thing where one tiny line revealed the whole surprise ending and would make watching it no fun at all.

    like when i wanted to read city of ember, i looked it up on the internet library catalouge, and the little blurb review completely ruined the mystery premise, which really made reading it no fun at all.

    when a sequel i don’t want being spoiled comes out, i avoid the computer and delete all my bookmarks, like i did for extras (which was excellent! and also the sort of confusion-twisting that a small spoiler could have ruined) when i knew i wouldn’t get a copy for a few days.

  15. Dess on #

    i went on a media strike the whole time i read hp7. sure it only took me two days to read it but still…
    i lothe spoilers. i think its unfair to everyone to spoil something for them. its much better to find out for yourself. although cedar’s points are very good.

  16. Catherine on #

    I hate spoilers when the book or movie is very plot-driven and dependent on surprises. I would not have wanted to hear spoilers for “the sixth sense” or “the others,” which owed a lot to the surprise twist endings. literary and character-driven fiction doesn’t seem as spoiler-sensitive. i know anna karenina dies, for example, but still plan on reading it someday, for the reasons cedarlibrarian says–it’s the journey, the “how,” not the “what.” either way, if a story is any good, I can become so caught up in it that I forget the spoiler and the events still surprise me.

    On the pro-spoiler side, i love talking about books and movies and hate having to censor my conversation indefinitely. i’m nice about it, though, if someone specifically warns me by saying “oh i still plan on reading that,” I won’t say anything. But in general my new rule of thumb is, if it’s been out on DVD or in paperback for at least a year, it’s fair game for discussion.

  17. Corey on #

    I find in general spoilers for movies to be far less offensive to me than ones for books — thankfully so, as I know precious few literary people irl. Movies (in general) are effortless, so to have a grandeur moment stolen near the end hardly invalidates the experience since you were merely sitting like a lug ‘being’ entertained the whole time. I had on the radio (of all places) the big twist in the film “what lies beneath” the very afternoon it opened! I don’t think I would’ve walked away with any more of an experience had it been a total shocker to me.

    Books, conversely, are a labor of love and devotion. Delicately crafted paragraphs are woven in merely to carry you soundly through the plot so that the revelation _is_ the very experience itself, not a fleeting moment of film. At Disneyland three-or-so years ago a look-at-me-im-trying-to-stand-out teen wore the infamous “Dumbledore dies on page xyz” t-shirt in the line for the haunted mansion. wow, the drama that ensued was borderline insanity! You’d think it said something like “kids, your parents will eat you tonight whilst you sleep.”

  18. Corey Feldman on #

    Spoilers are just plain rude. If you are going to put them in, at least place them behind a cut with a big ole warning. Quite frankly they cost writers money. I have not bought books when they have been spoiled for me and I am sure I am not alone. If I really like a series, would I keep reading it? Yeah, I would be ticked off but I would keep reading. A spoiler wouldn’t have stopped me from finishing Harry Potter; same is true of your Magic series. But if it was a new, or new to me, writer, I wouldn’t be so inclined. Everything has its time and place, and I sure some people want and look for spoilers, just be respectful of those who don’t be giving fair warning.

  19. PixelFish on #

    I don’t like having spoilers around because while it is all about the journey, there is the first journey of discovery, the second journey of re-discovery, the third, fourth, and fifth journeys where you travel along a familiar path, and so on til the path becomes an old friend.

    The journey fundamentally alters if I’m given a road map first. anticipation sharpens literary senses and I look for clues I would otherwise never have noticed. I’m not as lulled by the word pictures the author is creating because I know they’re building towards something. I don’t get to experience it all brand new.

    Now I can re-read books, and often do, but I really really do love that first journey, when it was brand new and unfolding before me.

  20. janet on #

    I still wonder how my first viewing of Citizen Kane would have differed if I hadn’t learned (from a Peanuts cartoon!) the identity of Rosebud before I had a chance to see the movie.

  21. PixelFish on #

    janet: I never had a chance to have Citizen Kane spoiled. My dad dragged me to see it when I was four. and right now I wish I had capital letters to explain why you don’t take a four year old to see citizen kane. i have a real hate-on for that movie and it’s all because of too early exposure.

Comments are closed.