Spoiler Warning

Spoiler warning: I don’t like spoilers.

Let’s flip back in time to last night. Didn’t get to watch Dollhouse, which is cool because, Hulu is my favorite thing on the Net right now. I figure, I’ll drag the laptop downstairs during dinner, and the wife and I will crank up Dollhouse on the ol’ crotchburner (seriously, my laptop will put a fine crusted sear on your testes). Wunderbar.

But then, earlier today, I’m bopping around the web, I’m shucking, I’m jiving, I’m in ur Intertoobz readin your craps, and I happen upon the Entertainment Weekly website, EW.com. And there, front page, in the headline of an article exists a pretty big hammer-down holy-crap game-changer spoiler for the episode of Dollhouse that I hadn’t yet seen.

(Oh, right quick: Dollhouse? Doesn’t suck. Wasn’t great in the beginning. But it’s been on a steady incline. Episode six really was a pivotal turning point in the series, and the crazy shit that’s rained down from this show since then is enough to fill two seasons of material, seriously.)

The episode was, in effect, spoiled. Or one part of it, at least.

That doesn’t mean it’s ruined for me — a piece of fiction is more than the summation of its gimmicks and twists, surely. But those gimmicks and twists remain one reason why we tune in to begin with.

Needless to say, it kind of chafed my taint. (Er, excuse me, “abraded my perineum.”) Then again, I suspect I’m in a minority here, because spoilers are big business. People seem to savor their spoilers, like the spoilers serve as some kind of twisted amuse-bouche (totally not the same thing as an “amuse-douche”). Yet, I don’t find them quite so delectable. They don’t whet my appetite. They don’t cleanse my palate. They merely muddle the flavors.

Way I see it, you get two primary types of people who are “into” spoilers.

The Schadenfreudist

This is the fucker who hates the product, and so he wants to harm the product’s integrity. He thinks the new Star Trek is an affront to everything he’s ever held sacred, and he’s just simmering in his own vinegar piss about it, so he gets a little nugget of spoiler-food and gets on any public forum he can manage so he can smear the rotten gobbet across the inside of your monitor and fill your nose with its stink. “OMG SPOCK DOES SHATNER IN THE POOPCHUTE; TRIBBLES WATCH; OH SPOILER WARNING SNAP! HA HA HA HA HA!”

These guys are the worst, because they enjoy your suffering more than just a leetle bit. They feel like they’re putting up a cuidado verboten wet floor sign up over the entire project so you steer clear and don’t break your tender pelvic pop culture bone from the slip-and-fall. Really, it’s just puerile schadenfreude. Other people’s misery, to them, is its own succulent fruit.

Then, you get –

The Cherry-Popper

(Totally different from the “Cherry-Pooper,” by the way.)

(And I apologize for all the poop references. It’s just my nature.)

This is the guy who can’t contain his pop culture buzz. He’s an addict, a slave to the material. In a mystery novel, he’s the fool who flips to the back to see who the killer is right up-front. He’s Icarus, flying too close to the sun until his wings melt. He loves the material too much, so he hungers for any snidbit (snippet + tidbit) of information he can find.

He isn’t a bad guy, this guy. I’ve been this guy, I’ll admit (I’m not anymore, because I realized what I was doing to myself). But he confuses the idea of “teasers” (that jack up his energy) with “spoilers” (which ultimately enervate his enthusiasm whether he realizes it or not).

Here’s where this dude is still bad for the whole shebang–because there’s enough of him, a whole army, really, to motivate a very powerful industry around his page clicks. Every media outlet is hungry for spoilers. We don’t talk to our creators about the process, about the craft of what they’re doing. We don’t talk to actors about what it’s like to embody the role or to be part of a story that’s greater than them. We talk to all the creative folks about who dies in the finale, or how many weddings will there be? (This is a side point worthy of another post, but our stories have to get beyond the “someone dies” and “someone gets married” hook as a relevant matter of suspense; it’s done, it’s hackneyed, and it’s no longer significant. This has lost all effect.)

The Problem

The problem with all of this is that you only harm yourself in the spoiler-process, and you betray the work that the creators put into it. A guy telling a mystery story isn’t doing so for the purpose of prematurely ejaculating his plotlines all your face. He puts work into the mystery. He makes the questions matter. He builds a story around characters and events to culminate in meaningful milestones, and here you are, giving them away for free to any plebe and prole you can find. You’re sullying the material that you claim to love, if you love it, and if you hate it, why are you expending energy on it to begin with? Don’t you have more important things to worry about?

I’ve come to terms with it — I wouldn’t want my work spoiled, so I don’t want to be spoiled on other people’s work.

Can you remember the last time you went into a film or show with completely closed eyes and had them yanked open by the sheer unexpectedness of it all? I remember that with The Sixth Sense. I remember that on the first episode of Lost. I love that feeling. It’s goddamn revelatory. Why do we try to take that away from ourselves and others?

(I’ll admit that there exists one last type of spoiler-hound, and I regrettably still fall into this category. It’s the guy who doesn’t actually care about a show or project, but still has weird peripheral interest in the drama surrounding it. If I see a headline that says, “Find out who gets raped by a bear on Gossip Girl,” dude, I’m looking. And I know, that makes me part of the problem. I’m giving them page hits. I’m throwing calves to piranhas; all that blood churning in the river waters is my fault sometimes, too.)

The Solution

The answer is, fuck spoilers. Give ‘em up cold turkey. Just say no. As Harvey Keitel says, “Piss on this fucking turd.” You vote with your page clicks, so stop clicking.

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