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A History of Spoilers and their Relevance to Today

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Building on my recent trend of meta-threads, I observed that there was a thread that was a poll about spoilers in order to discuss the events in another thread that may or may not have involved spoilers.

Now, with full apologies to @TheSword for meta-threading his thread, I wanted to ranch out in a slightly different direction. After all, if past is prologue, then understanding the history of "SPOILERS" might be helpful when understanding current issues and debates over spoilers.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT I WILL REFERENCE BOTH SPECIFIC SPOILERS AND ALLUDE TO THINGS THAT CAN BE SPOILED. THE SPECIFIC ENDINGS THAT I WILL SPOIL WILL BE:
ROMEO & JULIET
PLANET OF THE APES
CITIZEN KANE
STAR TREK II (WRATH OF KHAN)

IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THESE ARE THINGS THAT WILL BE SPOILED FOR YOU, THEN DON'T READ ANY FURTHER. IN ADDITION, I WILL BE REFERRING TO THINGS THAT CAN BE SPOILED BUT NOT PROVIDING THE SPOILERS.


1. National Lampoon and the Prehistory of the Spoiler


As a general rule, it was not a common conception prior the middle of the twentieth century that a piece of media (books, movies, etc.) could be spoiled. It wasn't that media didn't have plots, or twists, or even endings that could shock; it was more that these plot points were not considered so integral to the work that knowledge of the plot points prior to experiencing the work would make the work itself unenjoyable.

A simple example would be one everyone is likely familiar with. In Romeo & Juliet ... the main characters die at the end. Perhaps you think it should be shocking, a twist... yet just in case you either don't remember your mandatory reading, or never read it, this is a little bit from how the play starts -
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows / Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.
That's right- Shakespeare "spoils" the ending at the beginning. Because it's a tragedy! The power isn't in any twist or surprise. We know where the train is going; the tragedy is no one can get it off the tracks.

However, with the rise of cinema in the twentieth century, and more importantly, the emphasis placed on thrills, novelty, and shock, the idea of a surprising ending that was best experienced fresh began to have currency. One of the earliest examples of this is from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, a movie famous for having several unexpected twists, including a major one at the end. Hitchcock implored, "Please don't give away the ending, it's the only one we have." This is in stark contrast with movies like Citizen Kane, which had major endings that were revelatory, but were never considered spoilers; after all, the point of Citizen Kane should not be lessened in any way from the common knowledge that rosebud is a sled. Arguably, though, Hitchcock's well-publicized messages and restrictions (no one could enter the theater after it began) were as much about marketing the film as they were about spoilers.

And from that pre-history, we get the term spoiler in 1971, with Douglas Kenney and a National Lampoon article. As he put it in while coining the term-
“Spoilers! What are they? Simply the trick ending to every mystery novel and movie you’re ever liable to see. Saves time and money!”

The premise of the article was just to give away the endings of movies (such as Psycho) and books (such as Agatha Christie novels). As a joke, and as a proto-troll, it was perfect. More importantly, it struck a sort of zeitgeist with the type of people who read that book at the time (similar to the type of people who might be reading this forum now) and the use of the term stuck and began to spread.


2. Usenet, Puzzles, ROT13, and the Meow Wars.

After the seminal 1971 article, there were sporadic uses of the term spoilers in the geek community. The term was used in the Science Fiction community, and began to be used in mailing lists by no later than 1979- specifically, with regards to Star Trek, and those who wanted to talk about the latest movie. But the most important date is 1982. Because that's when we get the confluence of three important factors: first, the release of a new Star Trek movie (Wrath of Khan) that had a twist ending. Second, it was a Star Trek movie, which meant it was relevant to a community that was using the term "spoilers" already. Third, and finally, USENET.

Brief aside- usenet was, for all practical purposes, the "internet" and the "www" for most people in the 80s and 90s (until the http protocol really took off). Along with ftp (file transfer protocol), and smtp (email) usenet was most of the internet for most people from its invention in 1980 until mosaic. Think of it like this forum- it allowed for people to talk and communicate, organized by topic. A lot of the terms (flame, spam, trolls) and a lot of the netiquette we still observe today are derived from usenet.

Anyway, here is the magic post that started a s spoiler revolution:
uicsovax!hamilton Jun 8 00:47:00 1982
[SPOILER ALERT]

regarding Spock's parting gesture to McCoy, it wouldn't surprize me if
that's how they bring him back (if they do); but then, i have a low opinion
of ST's script(s). Spock's farewell to Kirk sounded pretty final to me.
wayne hamilton
(decvax!pur-ee!uiucdcs!uicsovax!hamilton)


BOOM! Mic ... dropped. On the one hand, kudos for starting a revolution! And for providing a spoiler alert given the movie had been released four days earlier. On the other hand ... c'mon, that's not much of a warning, and you can't exactly un-see that.

From there, both "spoilers" and "spoiler alert" became a more accepted part of usenet culture, and from there, internet culture (email lists, etc.). Two primary ways of hiding spoilers came about-
A. The "space" method. You'd indicate that there were spoilers ahead, and then leave a sufficient amount of blank space prior to the reveal. This also was part of the later meme of "wait for it."
B. ROT13. A simple cypher that consists of shifting each letter by 13 postitions. A's became N's, B's became O's, and so on. This was used for spoilers, the punch lines to jokes, or offensive language.

The idea of spoilers was especially widespread in puzzle groups on usenet- obviously, if you want to provide a puzzle for people to solve and a solution, you don't want to "spoil" the answer. But along with that, it was also used to avoid giving away endings that people didn't want to .... spoil.

That said, the issue of spoiling was very much considered voluntary. Other than movies that were currently released with twists, it wasn't considered "a big deal." If you look as late as 1995 Usenet guides, they will have long descriptions of flamewars and trolling, but the only mentions of spoilers will usually be in a quick aside about ROT13. Not about etiquette.

....but then came the great Meow Wars. This is impossible to describe, so very (very, very) briefly- a fight broke out in a Beavis & Butthead usenet group. So people started trolling that group by posting "meow" posts to that group. And then crossposting to other groups. At a sufficiently high level, this was just more trolling (aka, p**pposting). But the amount and the scale of the Meow Wars was unprecedented- in large part, because the internet was now open to a lot more people. The overall issue of these wars is beyond the scope of this post, but you are welcome to look it up - it has interesting antecedents to issues today. But along with all the meows, came a very specific form of trolling- posting spoilers, without warning, not to discuss something but solely in a desire to ruin it for other people.

This activity, born out of the Meow Wars, quickly became an issue given that shows like Babylon 5 were currently airing ... and the later release of Sixth Sense in the summer of 1999, a movie that certainly could be spoiled. So the period from 1996 to 1999 was the beginning of the use of spoiling as a specific, troll-y activity.


3. From the Internet into Popular Culture; the Rise of Spoilers and the Backlash

The early 2000s saw a sea change in the way that spoilers were viewed. While it might seem remarkable to people today, it was common for reviews of media (movies, books, and so on) to provide spoilers in their reviews; while there might be some restraint by some critics for particular cases (such as movies with "twist endings") there was no general idea that discussing the plot of a movie when reviewing it was a bad thing. This began to change in the 2000s, likely influenced by internet culture; in 2005, Roger Ebert wrote an influential article on spoilers in which he discussed why he began including spoiler warnings in his on-line reviews; perhaps as importantly, he specifically called out two people for revealing the ending of a movie (Million Dollar Baby) for the sole reason that they had a political/ideological/moral disagreement with the movie.

Still, up to this time, the issue of spoilers was largely confined to things that had just been released. Critics would debate how long they had to wait before discussing important plot twists in a movie. People on the internet would worry about a movie- is it okay to talk about the movie if it had been out for several months, but still in theaters? How long was sufficient?

But then came the streamers- Netflix most notably. Suddenly, you had two issue pop up at the same time. First, you had the practice of Netflix (and others) releasing an entire season's worth of TV at once; if people are watching a series at different rates, when is it okay to discuss a plot point? Before, when TV had certain prescribed viewing periods, it was pretty simple; now, you had no idea how long people were taking, and it could be frustrating to have to wait to talk about something you loved and binged just for everyone else to catch up. The other issue is that these streaming services would release whole material that had not previously been available; if, for example, Netflix released all of Battlestar Galactica in 2009, are you allowed to talk about the things you saw in 2003?

But this transition carried with it a rise in only people making intemperate demands for spoiler-free spaces, but a backlash to those demands. The first and most notorious case of this was likely the campaign by Andrew Jarecki, who complained that the entry for his movie Catfish on wikipedia ruined the movie because it spoiled the plot. Later, as people began to complain about spoilers in all sorts of contexts, the demand for "SPOILER ALERTS" became an easy target of mockery- there was both a notable Portlandia skit in 2013 and a Key & Peele skit in 2015 that went after the issue of spoiler alerts, and the people who demand them for everything.

And that, as far as I know, is where we are at.


4. Conclusion- Spoilers are a matter of etiquette.

I keep coming back to the 2005 article by Ebert, simply because he diagnosed the same problem that arose during the Meow Wars; the issue is never spoilers per se, it's jerks. Jerks can weaponize anything. A person who deliberately spoils things solely for the reasons of reducing the enjoyment of other people is a jerk. There is a term for a person who delights in watching something before you in order to tell you what happens and reduce your own enjoyment; that term is "older sibling." If the person doing that isn't your older familiar relation, though, they are just a jerk. You continue to see this today- people who disagree with a work of art, or just like to see the world burn, and deliberately try to spoil it for everyone else.

This is wrong. Not because of the spoilers, but because of the intent of trolling.

On the other hand, "spoilers" shouldn't be a catch-all attempt to silence the conversations of others. Jarecki might wish that wikipedia didn't "spoil" his film, but the purpose of wikipedia is to have facts, not to avoid spoilers. I wrote at the top that I'd spoil Planet of the Apes; it is nearly impossible to not know the big reveal at the end of the movie, simply because it gets referenced, repeatedly, over and over again in culture. Just look at the picture at this TVTROPES page and go from there.

And because spoilers, and spoiler alerts, are fundamentally an issue of etiquette for both the speaker and the audience, there is no obviously correct answer in terms of what is, and isn't, appropriate. I personally believe that in general discussions, spoilers are only reserved for things that have been recently released. On the other hand, I recently put out two separate "binge" guides for September here on enworld, and I deliberately left out information (was vague) on the things I was recommending because I worked under the assumption that if someone was taking the recommendation, they likely hadn't seen it yet, and would find out for themselves. But the courtesy also works from the P.O.V. of the audience; insisting that your own view of spoilers must take precedence, even when the material is years or decades old, seems inconsiderate of others as well.

Finally, I would put out the following as an interesting example to think about. When Avengers Infinity Wars and Endgame came out, the House of Mouse was insistent that no one provide spoilers. It's now been more than two years. Everyone who has wanted to has either seen it in theaters, bought it on DVD, or seen it on streaming. In addition, you can't really understand anything going on in. the MCU today ... or, for that matter, a good majority of memes and T-Shirts ... without understanding what happened. So, do you think the events are still covered by spoilers? Why or why not?
 

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MGibster

Legend
I humbly submit for your consideration the trailer for 1973's Soylent Green. If you don't already know the secret of Soylent Green you'll know just by watching the trailer.
But the most important date is 1982. Because that's when we get the confluence of three important factors: first, the release of a new Star Trek movie (Wrath of Khan) that had a twist ending. Second, it was a Star Trek movie, which meant it was relevant to a community that was using the term "spoilers" already. Third, and finally, USENET.
I was going to argue against Wrath of Khan as an example of a twist ending but you're right. It was a surprise because main characters are typically untouchable in a Star Trek movie.

Finally, I would put out the following as an interesting example to think about. When Avengers Infinity Wars and Endgame came out, the House of Mouse was insistent that no one provide spoilers. It's now been more than two years. Everyone who has wanted to has either seen it in theaters, bought it on DVD, or seen it on streaming. In addition, you can't really understand anything going on in. the MCU today ... or, for that matter, a good majority of memes and T-Shirts ... without understanding what happened. So, do you think the events are still covered by spoilers? Why or why not?

I'm never too sure about the cut off date. I don't mind spoiling Wrath of Khan (see above) but at this point it's been 39 years since it was in theaters. A friend of mine gave me a mild reproach for spoiling some aspect of an upcoming movie but I didn't consider it a spoiler at all. (I can't even remember what the movie was only that it was a basic fact revealed in the trailer.) Generally speaking, I'm okay with people spoiling things for me if enough time has passed since its release. I'm not sure exactly when that date is, but for movies by the time its out of video I think I've had ample time to have seen it if I wanted to.
 

Rabulias

Hero
I was going to argue against Wrath of Khan as an example of a twist ending but you're right. It was a surprise because main characters are typically untouchable in a Star Trek movie.
In the months leading up to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I remember there was a lot of discussion on TV (Entertainment Tonight) about Leonard Nimoy wanting to leave the franchise and have the Spock character killed off. Going into the movie in 1982, there was uncertainty about Spock's fate, but viewers knew it was on the table.
I believe the filmmakers took advantage of this publicity and buzz, and teased the audience when we see Spock "die" in the Kobayashi Maru training sequence early in the film, along with Kirk asking him "Aren't you dead?" when he comes out.
 

payn

Hero
If folks are looking for some hard timeframe when to spoil and when not spoil; I don't think it exists. As a poster, I try and be tactful and use spoilers based on best judgement. If a book/film/series/etc hasn't been released yet, but I have some type of knowledge about, I'll use spoilers. I will also continue to use spoilers immediately after release for a period of weeks or maybe months, really, it depends on when folks seem to be comfortable dropping spoiler tags. I do respect (no)spoiler requests in thread titles.

As a reader, if I really really dont want something spoiled, I stay the hell out of threads because most folks just dont give a damn.
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
In the months leading up to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I remember there was a lot of discussion on TV (Entertainment Tonight) about Leonard Nimoy wanting to leave the franchise and have the Spock character killed off. Going into the movie in 1982, there was uncertainty about Spock's fate, but viewers knew it was on the table.
I believe the filmmakers took advantage of this publicity and buzz, and teased the audience when we see Spock "die" in the Kobayashi Maru training sequence early in the film, along with Kirk asking him "Aren't you dead?" when he comes out.
I do think they said that this was one of the reasons for the Kobayashi Maru at the beginning - for the misdirect, so viewers might relax, since they saw so many 'deaths' as it opened in media res.
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I humbly submit for your consideration the trailer for 1973's Soylent Green. If you don't already know the secret of Soylent Green you'll know just by watching the trailer.
I do wonder if 'spoiling' Soylent Green in the trailer was a move where they wanted to draw people in because it was such a weighty topic, or if it was just for pure shock value, if they went the Full William Castle. And we all know you NEVER go Full William Castle... unless you're John Waters
 

MGibster

Legend
do wonder if 'spoiling' Soylent Green in the trailer was a move where they wanted to draw people in because it was such a weighty topic, or if it was just for pure shock value, if they went the Full William Castle. And we all know you NEVER go Full William Castle... unless you're John Waters
I think that's just the way trailers worked back then. I've seen other trailers from the 1970s and before that seemed to go over every major plot point in the movie to the point where I thought I had no reason to watch it. I'm sure there's a lot of reasons why trailers were like that back then and I'm guessing part of it is that most people didn't care about spoilers. Spoilers might matter for some movies, Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate, and Planet of the Apes but I don't think audiences were all that bothered to know the major plot points of movies they were going to see at the time. I think the studios who designed trailers in the past let their audience know what they could expect in order to entire them into the theaters.

And there are a lot of reasons why people might watch a movie even knowing everything about the plot. I plan on seeing Dune next month despite knowing what's going to happen. This thread (I'm sure) was inspired in part by the Wheel of Time Amazon series current in discussion in another thread where the subject of spoilers came up. Sometimes it's fun just watching the actors play things out even if you know the major plot points.
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
On the other hand, "spoilers" shouldn't be a catch-all attempt to silence the conversations of others. Jarecki might wish that wikipedia didn't "spoil" his film, but the purpose of wikipedia is to have facts, not to avoid spoilers. I wrote at the top that I'd spoil Planet of the Apes; it is nearly impossible to not know the big reveal at the end of the movie, simply because it gets referenced, repeatedly, over and over again in culture. Just look at the picture at this TVTROPES page and go from there.
Oh my god! You finally did it! You MANIAC! You gave it away! God damn you to hell, Snarf!!
 


MarkB

Legend
Thanks for the wander down memory lane - I have fond memories of Usenet.

I recall, back when The Matrix was coming out, I had a long-weekend holiday to New York planned that coincided with its opening and meant I was going to get to see it some time before it's UK release date.

I came so close to seeing the movie without knowing the nature of the matrix in advance, but then read one preview a few days before the trip that gave it away.

I do think they said that this was one of the reasons for the Kobayashi Maru at the beginning - for the misdirect, so viewers might relax, since they saw so many 'deaths' as it opened in media res.
Pretty much. There had been script leaks which referenced Spock's death, and this scene was intended to make it seem that the leaks were a misinterpretation.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Thanks for the wander down memory lane - I have fond memories of Usenet.

I recall, back when The Matrix was coming out, I had a long-weekend holiday to New York planned that coincided with its opening and meant I was going to get to see it some time before it's UK release date.

I came so close to seeing the movie without knowing the nature of the matrix in advance, but then read one preview a few days before the trip that gave it away.

I completely understand. One of my good friends at the time convinced a group of us to go see The Matrix on opening night ... and, yeah, it was an experience in all senses of the word.

The other movies like that? There was Fight Club, also seen on opening night. It didn't have the ... baggage ... it does today. Anyway, from a purely cinema perspective, I remember thinking that it was a masterpiece, a satiric takedown of fascism and consumer culture of a type you rarely see (like Starship Troopers). And being baffled that it underperformed at the Box Office so poorly.

The other one was, of course, Memento. Such a very good movie. Hey- did that director end up doing anything else?


:)
 

MarkB

Legend
I completely understand. One of my good friends at the time convinced a group of us to go see The Matrix on opening night ... and, yeah, it was an experience in all senses of the word.

The other movies like that? There was Fight Club, also seen on opening night. It didn't have the ... baggage ... it does today. Anyway, from a purely cinema perspective, I remember thinking that it was a masterpiece, a satiric takedown of fascism and consumer culture of a type you rarely see (like Starship Troopers). And being baffled that it underperformed at the Box Office so poorly.

The other one was, of course, Memento. Such a very good movie. Hey- did that director end up doing anything else?


:)
I saw Fight Club unspoiled despite it only being once it made it to sattelite TV - not sure how that happened. I sometimes think I should see it again sometime, just to see all the scenes recontextualised, but I never did bother.

I wonder whether the spoiler issue is one of the reasons (piracy obviously being the main one) why we don't tend to see staggered international releases of movies much anymore.
 

Janx

Hero
In some ways, this doesn't account for technological connectedness increasing along with the concept of spoilerage.

Once upon a time, you could only spoil a story if you were personally in the presence of somebody else who was reading it. That's a limited reach.

Usenet only reached fellow nerds in the 80s.

It's the 21st century where all kinds of people could easily spoil a movie with a social media post when it became a larger problem.

I think you did hit on a key point about Jerks. People spoiling to ruin it for others on purpose.

What's not talked about much (and there's parallels to other subjects), are people who some chunky time after a release get angry that we spoiled Fight Club for them. This is akin to the folks looking for offense which muddies the waters on actual offense. I suspect this falls back to the Jerk point. Somebody going into a Fight Club room who hasn't seen it is there to be a Jerk when they raise that flag about a spoiler.
 

MGibster

Legend
I wonder whether the spoiler issue is one of the reasons (piracy obviously being the main one) why we don't tend to see staggered international releases of movies much anymore.
I think the reason we don't see staggered releases as much is because international releases are a much more important part of the business than it was in the past. In 1981, Hollywood wasn't overly concerned with how well Raiders of the Lost Ark did in Asia or Eastern Europe. If it made a little extra scratch in India that's great but the foreign market wasn't an important component of their business plan like it is now.
 

David Prowse spoiled the big reveal of Empire Strikes Back in an interview two years before the movie came out (though the question remains whether or not it was actually just a lucky guess). But it was in a small California (I think) newspaper. These days, it'd probably have been a 50-50 bet whether or not they would've included that famous line in the trailer.

In some ways, this doesn't account for technological connectedness increasing along with the concept of spoilerage.

Once upon a time, you could only spoil a story if you were personally in the presence of somebody else who was reading it. That's a limited reach.

Usenet only reached fellow nerds in the 80s.

It's the 21st century where all kinds of people could easily spoil a movie with a social media post when it became a larger problem.

I think you did hit on a key point about Jerks. People spoiling to ruin it for others on purpose.

What's not talked about much (and there's parallels to other subjects), are people who some chunky time after a release get angry that we spoiled Fight Club for them. This is akin to the folks looking for offense which muddies the waters on actual offense. I suspect this falls back to the Jerk point. Somebody going into a Fight Club room who hasn't seen it is there to be a Jerk when they raise that flag about a spoiler.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I think you did hit on a key point about Jerks. People spoiling to ruin it for others on purpose.

What's not talked about much (and there's parallels to other subjects), are people who some chunky time after a release get angry that we spoiled Fight Club for them. This is akin to the folks looking for offense which muddies the waters on actual offense. I suspect this falls back to the Jerk point. Somebody going into a Fight Club room who hasn't seen it is there to be a Jerk when they raise that flag about a spoiler.

Well, this brings up a separate issue that I touch on in the above post, but didn't want to get into fully. The entire reason I did a deep dive into this subject was because someone that I very much respect was taking a very strong anti-spoilers position in a different thread that I couldn't understand, so I thought I might get to a better understanding by doing a deep dive on the issue.

Fundamentally, I think that many people tend to fall into default positions on spoilers based on upon assumptions about spoilers; in effect, they are viewing it from the position of someone deliberately spoiling things with bad intent; on the other hand, I think that others view this as people discussing things that have been out for a while and believing that they should be able to discuss them without worrying that someone, somewhere, may not have seen it.

Admittedly, I had trouble understanding the first point of view until I went back and saw how much (and how often) people had weaponized spoilers; I had a vague recollection of that, but didn't fully appreciate it until doing the research.

Which led to my more nuanced position which I think accounts for the objection- that weaponized the trolling spoilers are always bad, but people should be able to discuss things (especially those things that are relevant to popular culture and well-known) that have been out for "a while" or are "generally known and referenced" without others complaining about it being spoiled.

Finally, I did come across research that suggests that while people believe that spoilers are bad, enjoyment is actually increased when you know what is coming (because of cognitive dissonance, or something like that). The reason I didn't include that in the OP is twofold-
1. I think it's disingenuous to tell people who avoid spoilers, "Ha, you don't know what you really like." Not just disingenuous- kind of obnoxious.
2. It didn't seem like the research had a very large sample size or had been replicated. I am leery of these types of social science nuggets that haven't been replicated yet.

That said, it would be interesting if true.
 

Janx

Hero
David Prowse spoiled the big reveal of Empire Strikes Back in an interview two years before the movie came out (though the question remains whether or not it was actually just a lucky guess). But it was in a small California (I think) newspaper. These days, it'd probably have been a 50-50 bet whether or not they would've included that famous line in the trailer.
Marvel would have shot alternate footage that never happened that way...

Vader: You kissed your sister!
Luke: Nooooo! It's not true!
 

Janx

Hero
Well, this brings up a separate issue that I touch on in the above post, but didn't want to get into fully. The entire reason I did a deep dive into this subject was because someone that I very much respect was taking a very strong anti-spoilers position in a different thread that I couldn't understand, so I thought I might get to a better understanding by doing a deep dive on the issue.

Fundamentally, I think that many people tend to fall into default positions on spoilers based on upon assumptions about spoilers; in effect, they are viewing it from the position of someone deliberately spoiling things with bad intent; on the other hand, I think that others view this as people discussing things that have been out for a while and believing that they should be able to discuss them without worrying that someone, somewhere, may not have seen it.

Admittedly, I had trouble understanding the first point of view until I went back and saw how much (and how often) people had weaponized spoilers; I had a vague recollection of that, but didn't fully appreciate it until doing the research.

Which led to my more nuanced position which I think accounts for the objection- that weaponized the trolling spoilers are always bad, but people should be able to discuss things (especially those things that are relevant to popular culture and well-known) that have been out for "a while" or are "generally known and referenced" without others complaining about it being spoiled.

Finally, I did come across research that suggests that while people believe that spoilers are bad, enjoyment is actually increased when you know what is coming (because of cognitive dissonance, or something like that). The reason I didn't include that in the OP is twofold-
1. I think it's disingenuous to tell people who avoid spoilers, "Ha, you don't know what you really like." Not just disingenuous- kind of obnoxious.
2. It didn't seem like the research had a very large sample size or had been replicated. I am leery of these types of social science nuggets that haven't been replicated yet.

That said, it would be interesting if true.
It seems improbable that somebody who likes to figure out the movie mystery (a whodunnit with actual clues) would enjoy having that first time experience spoiled.

The science could also be tripping up on causation. People with anxiety (like everybody during Covid) find some comfort in watching re-runs, because they know how its going to turn out. the positive spoiler effect might be tied to that, reducing anxiety.

Or people can't abide being withheld from something, so they seek out that spoiler to know sooner, thus soothing that itch to have it Now.

Or I could have cognitive dissonance. But you know, if I wanted spoilers, I'd go look it up.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
It seems improbable that somebody who likes to figure out the movie mystery (a whodunnit with actual clues) would enjoy having that first time experience spoiled.

The science could also be tripping up on causation. People with anxiety (like everybody during Covid) find some comfort in watching re-runs, because they know how its going to turn out. the positive spoiler effect might be tied to that, reducing anxiety.

Or people can't abide being withheld from something, so they seek out that spoiler to know sooner, thus soothing that itch to have it Now.

Or I could have cognitive dissonance. But you know, if I wanted spoilers, I'd go look it up.

I tend to agree- especially as someone who will often go to a movie when it first comes out in order to avoid spoilers.

That said, it did make me reflect on how much value I place on maintaining a spoiler-free viewing experience. Other than a very few pieces that depend on twists (the M. Night example), I think that we often conflate "plot" with "twists." And I've experienced many, many things that I've had "spoiled" and still enjoyed it. Dunno.
 

MarkB

Legend
Marvel would have shot alternate footage that never happened that way...

Vader: You kissed your sister!
Luke: Nooooo! It's not true!
Since he was being dubbed, they could have just given him any line they liked.

"Pineapple is delicious on pizza."

"Nooo! That's not true! That's impossible!"
 

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