matgb: (Politics)
[personal profile] matgb
One of the things that always bugs me online is different peoples reactions to plot 'spoilers' for media things—unpredictable and at times downright weird, as Nick Mamatas demonstrated last month. Now me, I tend to seek them out for shows I like—before the internet I had a subscription to SFX partially for the spoiler zone section, I loved reading about shows way in advance and knowing what would happen. But then I tend to rewatch stuff I like a lot anyway. So, inspired by this old poll at [ profile] nmg's, I thought I'd update it a bit.

Warning though, below the fold are some minor spoilers for recent films such as Iron Man, Harry Potter 5 and Spiderman, and also endings/character reveals for Hamlet, Sixth Sense, Citizen Kane, the Star Wars trilogy, Soylent Green and Fight Club. Nothing is revealed that isn't on this classic t-shirt but if you really are that averse, just scroll to the last question...

[Poll #1199471]

Obviously some things, like the end of a genuine mystery, are worth hiding if that's how it's written—knowing who did it never seemed to hurt my enjoyment of Columbo though, and a chunk of my reading is always history books where, y'know, I normally know the ending. It's not what happens that matters to me, it's how—I'm there for the ride, not the big splash at the bottom. You?

Date: 2008-06-04 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think, for me, it depends how much it's an active and beloved fandom, and how likely I am to see the real thing sooner rather than later. Lost, for instance, I gleefully spoiled myself for, because it didn't look like I was gonna be able to finish season 3 for aaaaaages, and I was getting quite pissed-off with it. But I got really upset when I was spoiled - broadly, I know what happens to the protagonists but not why or how - for the series finale of Supernatural, because I really enjoy watching it and it's starting again this week. And I'm spoiler-free for Battlestar Galactica, because I love how that show can shock me.

I do remember reading the episode spoilers in the X-Files magazine, though, because these future seasons happened in the magical lands of America and Sky TV, and I couldn't imagine waiting that long to see them.

Date: 2008-06-04 10:56 pm (UTC)
ext_27873: (Default)
From: [identity profile]

Way back when I was into reading what I could about the stuff that I was interested in, particularly episodes 5 and 6 of Star Wars.

Since then, though, I avoid spoilers as much as possible, especially TV previews of what's on "next week." Too many times, the person putting together the preview doesn't understand the episode and ends up ruining it. The one that comes to mind first in this respect is "Sic Transit Vir" from B5. If you've seen the episode, you'll know exactly what it is they revealed in the preview.

For me, it's not the splash so much as the journey. James Bond is always going to get the bad guy, right? But, I still enjoy the movies.

Oh, and with Columbo, it wasn't knowing who did it that was the point, it was "How is he going to get the bad guy? Where did the bad guy screw up?"

Date: 2008-06-04 11:14 pm (UTC)
ext_4030: Branch of holly with its binomial name, Ilex aquifolium (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I have a medium level of spoilerphobia - I'm happy knowing casting details, for instance, and vague plot points, but I don't like being spoiled for whoah! moments because they're a big part of the experience for me.

Because it's so cuturally well-known and I have been watching Star Wars films since I was too wee to understand, I can't imagine what it must be like to watch ESB and find out for the first that Vader is Luke's father. That's a helluva whoah! moment. What a fucking revelation! That's the sort of thing I don't like being spoiled for. I didn't know Bruce Willis was dead or Tyler Durden was imaginary or Keyser Soze was Verbal Kint, and my first viewings of those films had much more impact than they would have done had I known the twists in advance. There's a kind of strange glee at being hoodwinked so well by the film-makers.

I'm hoping I get that sort of experience from the reveal of the final cylon's identity!

Date: 2008-06-05 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it depends on the film. The revelation that Willis is a ghost,is frankly all the film has going for it. Its pretty much the only thing Shayalaman's films have going for them, so I'd rather remain spoiler-free on those- If I can be arsed to watch them.

Knowing the story for Shakespeare helps inordinately, these days its about how well the play is put on anyway.

I've still not seen Citizen Kane, so while I know what Rosebud is, I don't understand the significance within the film. Knowing it in advance isn't going to spoil my experience of the film. Similarly with Soylent Green, it the journey that will be interesting.

Iron Man/Spiderman this is very clear from the beginning of the film/trailers/interview pieces. Its in no way a spoiler- the point of these films is how is the transition from Parker/Stark to their respective heroes.

Date: 2008-06-05 10:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The revelation that Willis is a ghost,is frankly all the film has going for it.

I have to disagree with that. If you watch the film a second time, the knowledge that he's a ghost gives the whole thing another dimension. It makes his situation more poignant when you know he's a ghost and he doesn't. The twist is certainly a key moment, but the film doesn't unravel as an experience once you know it.

I'd agree on Shyamalan's other films though. He quickly got caught up in the twist gimmick and his films become weighed down by a stifling self-importance. And now his films are more exercises in "guess the twist" than entertainment in their own right.

But I think The Sixth Sense is a very intelligent and skillful bit of film-making.

Date: 2008-06-05 03:36 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I've still not seen Citizen Kane, so while I know what Rosebud is, I don't understand the significance within the film. Knowing it in advance isn't going to spoil my experience of the film.

Part of the point of Rosebud, in the film, is that you're supposed to start off thinking it's a mystery, and then realise at the end that it doesn't explain anything. Or, at least, not in the way you expected.

Date: 2008-06-05 07:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The only two I'd complain about are Sixth Sense and Fight Club. For them the spoiler is the entire point, and while you and me are hip young things in tune with pop culture, it's highly possible many people haven't seen them before.

If you haven't seen some of the others before, chances are you know the spoiler anyway if you've ever watched tv.

Date: 2008-06-05 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I expect that in ten year's time the twists in those will be treated in exactly the same way as the ones in Psycho and Star Wars are today- turning up as in-jokes in children's films to keep the parents entertained, etc.

For instance, I think it was a combination of Colombo and Looney Tunes that revealed the "Rosebud" thing in Citizen Kane to me.

Soylent Green

Date: 2008-06-05 08:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Mat, You should definitely get this ( T-Shirt then.

Andrew from OneHourAhead (

Date: 2008-06-05 08:35 am (UTC)
innerbrat: (opinion)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
I am [ profile] lilmsmiraclegro there, sorry.

There are two types of spoilers - reveals and surprises. Reveals would be Psycho and Fight Club; surprises would be Harry Potter and Hamlet.

For me, the spoiler magnitude is based on how much the shock value should be. You're supposed to be shocked like Luke is to find out that Darth Vader is his Dad. If you already know your empathy is entirely dependent on Mark Hamil's acting which is why no one my age or younger really cares any more.

Tony Stark/Peter Parker is just the progression of the story; there's no moment of oh, he's the hero! so there's nothing to spoil.

And that's why they're called spoilers after all: they spoil one's experience as an audience. Fight Club is a big one for me - I remember what it was liek to have that reveal, and anyone who is spoiled won't experience the film the same way I did in that first watching.

Also, dude: HARRY POTTER 6. Not 5.

Date: 2008-06-05 08:40 am (UTC)
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (life)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
I'm glad to see The Sixth Sense blowing away the competition on that last question because M. Night Shamalamadingdong is such an appalling storyteller that it does actually ruin his stories to know the "twist" ending. They're just little puzzles to solve, and once you know the answer they're impossible to sit through again.

I'd twigged that he was dead a few minutes into the film (it reminded me a lot of an old one called Jacob's Ladder, which helped), and it was honestly so obvious to me that Bruce Willis was dead that I was expecting the plot to build on that. I thought that was the jumping-off point, not the big reveal at the end. So I found it watchable the first time only because I was expecting more.

I came out of the theater as surprised as anyone else, but for an entirely different reason: I was dismayed, I felt cheated.

Psycho, Citizen Kane, all that...those I can watch endlessly because the execution of the story is so good that it's enjoyable even if you know or guess the "spoiler." Knowing stuff like that never actually spoils anything for me; like you, I'm there for the ride.

Date: 2008-06-05 09:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think spoilers are actually a good thing sometimes. For instance, I wouldn't have taken that £40-shot-in-the-dark on the first series of the new BSG if I hadn't read some interesting-sounding stuff about it online. (I'd seen bits of the original series; some interesting ideas but also a lot of painfully bad stuff as well, so I wouldn't have assumed there was much potential in it otherwise.)

Date: 2008-06-05 09:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Generally, I don't have a problem with spoilers.

Obviously when a film or whatever relies heavily on a twist ending or a shock revelation for it's effect, then it's best not to know that beforehand, but basic plot points don't trouble me. I don't exactly seek them out, but I don't avoid them either.

For me, watching a film, reading a story, isn't just about finding out what happens next, it's about losing myself in another world, with a bunch of interesting characters. It should be an experience. If the film is good, then I'll still be carried along for the ride, no matter what prior knowledge I have of the plot.

Case in point - as a school kid, I read the novelisation of The Empire Strikes Back before I saw the film. And knowing that Vader was Luke's Dad in no way detracted from the OMFG power of that scene to my ten year-old eyes.

Similarly, I can enjoy watching my favourite films over and over again, so the pleasure I'm getting out of those clearly doesn't depend on not knowing the plot.

Date: 2008-06-05 08:34 pm (UTC)
ext_27873: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
The Star Wars books of the movies are an entirely different kettle of fish.

The first one, i.e., episode 4 before it got the subtitle, is a really good read. There's so much more detail and stuff that make it really cool to read.

And, most importantly, it doesn't read like the written form of a movie, like the other five do. (Well, I'm assuming that episodes 2 and 3 are like that, I haven't read them.) Empire has a couple of cool "scenes" (Luke training on Dagobah) that weren't in the movie (maybe because they're on the cutting room floor) that would help flesh out some scenes later. Return has virtually nothing additional.

I've read the original several times, the other two only once a piece.

Date: 2008-06-05 03:38 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Part of the problem is that you're supposed to get an emotional response from discovering things. When I discovered that Luke Skywalker was Darth Vader's son I was shocked. Knowing it already removes a large chunk of the emotional resonance. Same with Fight Club.

I was 30 pages from the end of HP6 when some Neds shouted out "Dumbledore Dies!" at me. I was very, very annoyed.

Date: 2008-06-05 04:45 pm (UTC)
ext_27872: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
There's only been one spoiler that really, really annoyed me, and that was on the back of the DVD case. (Grr.) (The Third Man, if you care).

Date: 2008-06-05 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Soylent Green is people!" - well it's not in the novel the film's based on (Make Room! Make Room!), it's what it sounds like, soya and lentils.

But in the movie Sol's suicide and the revelation of the nature of Soylent Green aren't the real shocker. The real shocker is that Soylent Green is people because all the crops have failed. The planet's fucked. Utterly banjoed. Cannibalism (or more accurately, recycling human carcasses for nutrients) isn't the issue; the issue is that the end of civilisation as we know it is imminent.

But I guess even though Heston was into ecology back in the 70s you couldn't have a movie ending by saying "we're all going to starve to death!"...

Ironically the body-processing plant in the movie was a sewage works just outside LA that wasn't in use because of some legal tangle or other, and was bypassed by a 36" pipe spewing Angeleno shit straight into the Pacific Ocean....

Soylent Green and Make Room! Make Room! are very different entitites, both very good in their own way.

Date: 2008-06-08 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm just shocked that only thirteen of your respondents have seen Citizen Kane!


matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
Mat Bowles

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