Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do You, or Don't You?

To spoil, or not to spoil? And then there those who have good intentions to remain unspoiled but fall off the wagon and "click here" whenever promised spoilery goodness. There are no actual SPN spoilers here, btw, just my unsolicited opinions *g*

When I got my author copies of Necessary Arrangements (my first full length, single title novel) I gave one to a close friend and fellow writer. When I called her about half an hour later to ask about a trip we were taking she sniffled, "I just read the ending! It was beautiful." At first, I was confused--no one could possibly have read 300+ pages that fast. Then I discovered that she had (gasp) read the last page first. Now, she is not alone. My sister and favorite aunt do this, too. I remain--respectfully--appalled. It's my contention that, wherever an author or, more importantly, character arrives by page 400, she worked darn hard to get there. She changed as a person, she overcame obstacles, she weathered plot twists! Don't we read for that exact journey, for the emotional impact of overcoming and weathering with her?

I take a similar view toward television, although I feel that increasingly I am in the minority.

Now, I don't mind fan speculation--intend to indulge in it myself--but I prefer uninformed speculation. For example, I didn't mind chatting up a storm with fellow fans about whether we thought Dean could get out of his demon's bargain or whether he was actually going to hell! I listened to other Rowling readers debate who they thought the half-blood prince was, but I wouldn't actually want to read leaked manuscript pages on the internet. Just as I didn't want to know ahead of time who killed Laura Palmer (or to use an example from this century, Lily Kane)--not unless I figured it out for myself. Otherwise, I'm along for the ride in all its exhilirating glory.

The journey aside, there are two main reasons that I am anti-spoiler.

1. I want the shocking OMG moments! Aren't they part of the excitement? TV commcercials with their annoying "DON'T MISS THE LAST 3 MINUTES! SOMEONE DIES!" drive me freaking crazy. Instead of enjoying the episode for what it is, I spend 45 minutes trying to figure out who's going to kick the bucket. MILD SPOILER FOR OLDER MOVIES: If you've ever seen the movie Serenity (and weren't spoiled) you know that some deaths can be effectively shocking, really knocking the viewers off balance. (Did I enjoy it? Hell, no. But it was powerful. Besides, if someone had told me ahead of time, I might have been upset enough that I decided not to go, and that would have been a shame.) Wasn't half the point of the Sixth Sense having the revelation with (or, in my case, ahead of) the character? (When I pieced it together midway, I had an audible OMG moment.) You know writers worked hard to craft that moment of shock, and we constantly rob ourselves of it. Of course, the other problem I have with those incessant promos, is that half the time they're hyping the death of some Red-Shirt (ie background character we barely know the name of, much less care about.)

2. Here's the other problem I have with spoilers--we fans are darned opinionated. (Yeah, there's a newsflash, Tanya.) Every time a rumor circulates, people react with vehement opinions, often negative. Which means that by the time a certain episode occurs, we can't just judge it on its merits and decide in 50-minute real-time if we like it. Half of us decided two months prior that we hated a twist/scene/secondary character and the writer will have to actively convince us otherwise. (Luckily, most of my favorite writers are skilled enough to do just that, but still, hardly seems fair.) And I often sense that the writers themselves are frustrated by spoilers, some of them going so far as to leak decoy information to preserve the surprise.

I do like to gossip about which guest stars I love who might be appearing on shows I love (although I don't need to know all the details about who they'll be playing) and I looooooove to discuss and dissect an episode as soon as I've seen it. (My mom also likes to discuss post-episode, and she's a big BSG fan. I've been on deadline and have DVRed the last 3 eps. She keeps calling to ask, "Did you just see that? What the frak?" and I keep telling her, "Not yet! Say NOTHING!" and slamming down the phone. Well, not slamming exactly, she is my mom. And it's a cordless.)

IMO, spoilers do exactly that--they SPOIL part of my viewing experience. But clearly most people don't feel that way, judging by the number of spoilers that are posted and/or confirmed on the internet on a near hourly basis. So, those of you like my friend (who calls herself a spoiler-whore), why do you like knowing ahead of time? Is it just the value of having knowledge beforehand? Does it actually enhance your viewing, or is it more like a fix to keep you plugged into the show between eps? Have you ever stumbled across a surprise you wish you hadn't? (I've done this. I DVRed a previous season finale of Lost, wouldn't let anyone talk to me about it, then accidentally stumbled across a spoiler headline when I was on a TV site trying to find what channel some other show came on.)

Are you a spoiler purist, or semi spoiler purist? (Tell me I'm not alone!) I will admit that because of my strong reactions, my family will generally warn me before I go see a movie if a child is harmed in a particularly graphic way or the dog dies (Show!). Also, I don't have a problem with trailers. I did watch the first few minutes of this season of SPN, which was tantalizing and answered one main question, but here's the thing with a good trailer, I feel it should raise more questions than it answers. I guess that's what it boils down to, I like having stuff to try to figure out! Can Dean break the bargain? How will he get out? What happened while he was there? Will we see the Trickster again? Will we ever see John again? How far will this rift between the brothers go? How will they mend it? Where will we be by the end of the Season?

These are the questions that haunt me.

Please do not email me if you have all the answers.