A History of Spoilers and their Relevance to Today

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?


:)
 

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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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