When you run a movie website or podcast, it’s pretty much a given that you will have to confront the issue of spoilers on a daily basis. People who are fans of movies and TV shows want to know more about them, but they also don’t want the experience of watching those movies and TV shows ruined for them. And therein lies the problem. The issue cropped up over the past few weeks on the Film Junk Podcast as a result of a silly little spat between Frank and myself, but after I read an in-depth article on Wired this week, I thought maybe it was worth discussing further. When we have people publicly posting spoilers with malicious intent and other people actively avoiding any promotional material for a movie at all, it made me wonder if the fear of spoilers has come to a head and is in danger of killing the conversation completely.
When most people review movies they try to avoid giving away major plot elements. I think that is a reasonable expectation, and for the most part you can still get across your feelings while adhering to that. However, for certain movies, spoilers are necessary in order to get to the meat of the discussion. Again, this is fine as long as you warn people ahead of time. The situation becomes more complicated when you’re talking about older movies or news related to upcoming movies. Here the rules are more vague, and when you factor in the immediacy of social media, it’s chaos. What bugs me is when people assume that any piece of advance knowledge ruins a film when that is not necessarily the case. This boils movies down to nothing more than a plot delivery device when we all know they are more than that. Sometimes it is not what happens that is interesting, it is how it happens. Part of me feels that if you are going to actively seek out information and criticism about media, you have to accept that sometimes you will have things spoiled for you. But I know a lot of people will disagree. What do you think? Does the responsibility for spoiler avoidance fall on the audience or the critic? Are older movies fair game or should spoilers apply forever? Are people simply becoming too sensitive about spoilers? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.