Thursday, May 10, 2018

When is a Spoiler no Longer a Spoiler?

With Avengers: Infinity War (2018) out and causing a stir, there’ve been some serious spoilers floating around. People are posting images indicating who died – sometimes with a saying from the film. Collages are being shared of seemingly unrelated pictures and people are claiming they’re spoilers ‘without context.’

Where I’m concerned, spoilers in general just kind of annoy me. It’s why Trust the Dice remains as spoiler-free as possible with big bold lettering when we do have to issue a warning. I love being shocked by a twist in a film. I love being in the moment when that big event happens at the end of a story that sends chills up my spine. So, when I find a spoiler for a film hidden in the middle of some innocuous YouTube video that has nothing to do with the movie in question, I get pissed.

That’s how Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) was spoiled for me, by the way. A friend on Facebook posted a video on kittens or something and the video paused in the middle, on a screen of text, that spoiled the big death scene for me. It was posted about a week after the film came out.

Granted, that douche-nozzle posted the spoiler for the express purposes of spoiling someone, but some of the other examples are a little hazier. Like the images given ‘out of context.’ That person insisted it couldn’t be a spoiler. I disagree. For people who read the source material, it was like screaming the ending of the film from a mountain top.

Just look at the timing of it all. It comes down to the debate: how long does it take for a spoiler to no longer be a spoiler?

Pretty much the majority would agree that there’s nothing you can say that would spoil Die Hard (1988). Too much time has passed since the film came out. Most people would agree that anything said about Avengers: Infinity War right now, however, is a spoiler. But what about Deadpool (2016)? The Shape of Water (2017)? The Revenant (2015)? Is it still bad to talk about the main plot in those films?

My husband and I really wanted to discuss Infinity War when we left the theater, but we didn’t want to be those assholes that blurt out the ending on the line for the bathroom where people are waiting to see the film. So, we spoke in code. Black Panther was referred to as Salem. Captain America was Mary Sue. Thor became Storm. Clearly, if someone was listening very closely to us, they might have gotten the gist of it… but while we were walking and people were only getting snippets, they couldn’t possibly know what we were talking about.

However, I was discussing Deadpool with a friend of mine at Subway, and we were debating what the sequel would be like, only a few weeks ago. No code was used and we didn’t curb our discussion.

After some careful thought, I’ve come to some conclusions about what I believe are spoilers and what aren’t.

While a movie is in theaters, I think just about everything is a spoiler. All those ‘out of context’ pictures, talking about it openly in public… etc. After that, things are a little different.

I’ve seen people talk about a 2-week rule. I can get with that on smaller films. Stuff that minimal people are looking forward to watching. Blockers (2018) for instance. It’s clearly a film with some pull to it, but for the most part people will wind up watching it on a streaming service later on. For something a little bigger, like Deadpool 2 (2018), I think 2-weeks isn’t the right way to go about it.

For bigger films, especially those based on popular source material like Marvel films or movies based on books, I think you have to wait until the movie leaves theaters. If you spoil a film like that, you risk not just ruining a movie that tons of people are waiting to see – but you may also destroy a book for someone. Giving people until the movie leaves theaters allows time for babysitters to be found, books to be read, and other such stuff.

Then you have movies like Infinity War.

Let’s be honest, here. There aren’t any movies like Infinity War. This film was a decade in the making. It took a ridiculous amount of other films and a shit-ton of planning. It is the biggest film in the history of cinema. Almost every single character in it is a main character. There can’t be a single death without bringing at least one of the singular Marvel series to a screeching halt. It’s the first true epic to be made in our time.

Infinity War essentially reinvented the wheel. As a result, I think it goes by different rules. I don’t think waiting until the movie leaves theaters is enough time. I think one needs to wait until it comes out on video to really start posting spoilers.

People have been waiting so long for this film to come out that their lives have changed drastically since they first started. They’ve had babies, they’ve graduated school, they’ve dealt with loss… one has to take into account that not everyone is going to be able to see it on the big screen. I don’t think that should negate their enjoyment, though. By waiting until it comes out on film, you give people a chance to find a way to see it, get the movie when it comes out, or invite a friend over that got it when it came out. People who are really dying to see it, will have found a way to see it on their terms by then.

So, that’s my take on the issue. I’d love to know yours. When do you think a spoiler stops being a spoiler?

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