If there's one thing we've learned from the new J.J. Walker-directed Space Battles movie (I think that's what it's called -- I'm not really a Spielberg fan), it's that the discussion around spoilers is reaching its tipping point. Although there have been plenty of hoaxes, there was at least one legitimate threat of violence toward somebody who revealed plot details during a conversation on Facebook. They had to lock down the guy's high school. An entire school shut down for an entire day.
It was in Montana, though, so that probably didn't take a ton of work.
Guys, we have got to calm down. I'm sure you've heard by now that, according to science, you actually enjoy stories more when you know what's going to happen. But I'm not here to convince you that you secretly like things you don't think you like. That said, regardless of how you feel about spoilers, there are a few things we need to take a step back and consider before someone gets hurt. Such as ...
#4. The Entire Concept Of Spoilers Was Invented As A Marketing Ploy
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So how did we get here? After all, this is not exactly the natural state of things. Do you really think people standing in line to see Shakespeare's latest joint would go medieval on anyone who rolled by screaming "Brutus killed Caesar"? Of course not. They were too busy trying to replace all the people who vanished during the Black Death. As film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum pointed out in 2006, novels and plays would historically put spoilers right in their titles and chapter headings. You had to if you wanted to get anyone to read them, what with all that plague business occupying everyone's minds. And they say modern people have no attention spans.
Maybe another plague would do us all some good.
According to AMC, the idea of the spoiler as we know it today dates to 1960 with the release of Psycho, when Hitchcock warned viewers not to reveal the big plot twists to anyone who hadn't seen the film. Of course, the idea of the twist ending goes back much further than that. Probably the most famous one ever occurred 20 years earlier, in a little movie you might have heard of called Citizen Kane -- and people apparently had zero qualms about revealing it to anyone willing to listen. One review from 1941 (the year the movie was released) spells it right out.
The sled is the killer!
Hitchcock invented the spoiler for the same reason those earlier novelists and playwrights shot them all over your face: to get people interested in his movies. Future blockbusters used the same gimmick. But it didn't really pick up steam until the Internet allowed people to have the kind of enormous, anonymous group discussion we'd never been able to have before -- for better or disgustingly, dick-pic-ly worse. We'll come back to that, but now that we're up to speed, we have to realize that ...
#3. It Puts Creators In An Impossible Position
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Hey, remember when Cristin Milioti bald-face fucking lied about the terrible, terrible ending of How I Met Your Mother, and you hated and distrusted her forever? She's clearly the devil, but just as an exercise, let's try really hard to sympathize with her position. See, we're in this weird place where we're desperate to know what's going to happen, but we'll execute people if they tell us. So what was she supposed to say? Obviously people were going ask her about it, and obviously she couldn't say, "Yep, you got it. I'm going to die. Good job." The fans would have put her head on a spike.
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Which, weirdly, is exactly how the show ended anyway.
Speaking of lying assholes and heads on spikes: Jon Snow is not dead, you guys, regardless of what Kit Harington says. He lays it on even thicker than Milioti, insisting "I'm not coming back next season" and dismissing the contract it took fans approximately two seconds to dig up which clearly suggests otherwise. Oh really, Kit? Then why have so many people spotted you hanging around Ireland, where the show is filmed, and even on the set in full costume? Why are you and Carice van Houten, the actress who plays the characters everyone thinks/knows is going to resurrect you, suddenly being such prick teases about it? Why don't you tell your co-workers to shut the fuck up, and then shut the fuck up?
The better question is: Why are we asking? Why are we hunting the man down if we don't want to know? Why is Entertainment Tonight running this story when, two weeks earlier, they ran this headline?
But you just ...
I don't know, man. Probably? But there would be no question if you motherfuckers would stop asking him about it. It's weird that it's even a question, though, right? Wouldn't you know if someone did something as terrible as spoil Game Of Thrones to you? That's where it starts getting really absurd, because ...