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.


Anonymous said...

Great write up, Tanya! And I'm a reformed spoiler whore. I used to look for spoilers on my fave shows and then realized they ruined my enjoyment so I don't look for them anymore.

phouse1964 said...

I am only a spoiler whore for Supernatural. At least that's the only show I read spoilers for on purpose. And I am not sure why. I used to read the spoiler and spec thread on TWoP too but not so much now. I enjoy thinking I know something is going to happen but my mind obviusly does nto work in the same way as the SPN writers so I am still suprised. Not in the way I was suprised 15 years ago when someone on my fave soap died or had sex with someone they shouldn't have but I don't see anyway to stay 100% unspoiled these days unless I live in a cave with no internet and have someone spoon feed me video tapes.

I watch alot of TV on DVD after the show has aired. Veronica Mars. BSG (I am not caught up yet and I know SOME of what is coming but I am NOT activly looking to connect the pieces) Weeds. I will someday watch Lost when it's all done. I listen to Two Idiots Talk Lost and really don't think it will take anything away from my expericence two years down the line.

I think the main reason I have to have spoilers for SPN is because I love Sam & Dean so much I can't stand the thought of not knowing what they are doing every other day of the week! It's kinda like stalking an ex.

Anonymous said...

>>>It's kinda like stalking an ex.

ROFL! Great analogy, phouse. And you're right, it's nearly impossible to stay spoiler free. I run across stuff all the time--a lot of it's little and I don't care (it tells me little more than what I'd find in previews anyway) but once or twice I've been bummed about inadvertently disovering something big.


Anonymous said...

P.S. I was thinking about this after I typed up my blog--how I feel like a non-spoiler minority--and realized that there are definitely SOME other people like me because I recently gave a writing workshop and I like to use examples while I teach. I had to 86 at least three really good examples because someone planned to rent the DVD or was right in the middle of the book! I thought, oh, sure, NOW I find people who don't wanna know...

phouse1964 said...

Part of the fun of me and spoilers is me sitting around thinking I know what's going to happen and being so totally wrong. Supernatural is the only show I do this with. I never try to figure out what's going to happen on T:SCC or Burn Notice or any other show I watch. I almost just don't care but I like my other shows. I just don't LOVE them. You know, because everything about Supernatural is my TV boyfriend.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I'm with you, Tanya. I don't want to know what's coming.

(I know, ironic considering my post yesterday! But that was a huge aberration. Ironic, too, is that the person who first TOLD me about the casting thrashes me continuously for leaking the most innocuous things. She wants to know NOTHING!)

Anyway, back on topic. I am mostly a spoiler-phobe, but the more I love the show, the more I need a fix and the more likely I am to allow myself to see a tidbit.

(There's a question--what constitutes a spoiler? Is a one-line description of an upcoming episode a spoiler? Some people think so.)

During a show, I am always torn between blurting out a guess because I want to be the smart one in the room (and I'm not, my husband always figures things out first, which galls me hard) and not wanting to speculate and ruin the big reveals.

Anonymous said...

>>>I am always torn between blurting out a guess because I want to be the smart one in the room (and I'm not, my husband always figures things out first<<

Oh, I'm a blurter! My husband and I talk incessantly during shows we watch together. We speculate, we ask questions, we yell at the characters and we debate--we'd probably annoy the heck out of anyone else who ever tried to watch TV with us :-) I have a better track record for figuring out Supernatural, but he's better at some of the others.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

We probably don't do that to the extent you do, but...pausing live TV is one of the best inventions ever. LOL

phouse1964 said...

Natalie, I know of people who don't even watch the "before" part of the current show to not be spoiled.

I don't get to watch with anyone so I yell at the TV all the time!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Actually, that makes a lot of sense, because what they show often gives clues to what's coming. I try to watch it without paying any attention to it. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Tanya, I feel like you do. I don't really like spoilers because I like to be surprised -- like with this week's LOST. I was a retreat last weekend, and someone said something about a LOST episode I hadn't seen yet, and I hated that I knew what was coming once I was able to see that episode.

I'm the same way with books. For some series, I get them from the library, but I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn because I couldn't stand the thought of being spoiled before I got to read those series-ending books myself.

MJFredrick said...

I don't like to be spoiled at all. (Except some movies, I'll ask if it has a HEA, then I'll see it.) I'll never forget the time I emailed my friend Elizabeth after Fred died in Angel, COMPLETELY forgetting she was an hour behind me and hadn't seen it yet. She was WAY mad at me for spoiling it.

So now I email with, "Let me know when you see this!!!"

I won't watch the clips of Watchmen posted, which is weird because I've read the graphic novel 3 times. Just not the same, you know?

I didn't read Wed's post, BTW. Didn't want to be spoiled.

AuthorM said...

I refuse to be spoilllllllllled!!!!