So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #036: Spoil the Spoilers

Teenage angst has paid off well,
Now I’m bored and old.
Self-appointed spoilers spoil
More than they have told.

If they gatekeep online now,
Plot-holes that they found?
All to piss off and to troll
And needlessly expound…

Bonus points if you get the reference. No Googlin’ either, kiddos.

It seems now that spoiler culture is abound throughout social media. With the Russo’s (of Endgame fame, don’t-cha-know) declaring specific rules as to their accepted window of spoilativity… my feeds have been choked to the nines with needless repetition and condemnation of those who seek to ruin the experience of a piece of pop culture by virtue of their ability to consume it first.

To be clear to all who I am friends with? Not a single soul said a serendipitous spoiler in any sense of the word for Endgame, Game of Thrones, or even The Price is Right. And trust me, I was on high alert.

My wife and I were given the best gift we’d received in a little over a year… when our friend volunteered to babysit our brood — including a Mr. Fussypants baby who does not like when mom is not around — whilst we caught Endgame opening weekend. Trust me: I’m literally planning this person’s Christmas gift now for making such a sacrifice. And prior to our viewing, I personally put on social media shutters; with any errant post even using the word …end being immediately flicked and scrolled past. I’d tepidly teeter across my feed like the potential minefield it was until I was able to strap in for the 3+ hour extravaganza of nerd-feels. And when I returned home? I didn’t even make the unnecessary proclamation of having seen the movie and how great it was.

I know. I know. I’m a mensch above all mensches.

The bigger question here then needs to be discussed: What is the appropriate amount of time one yields towards spoiler-free postings? Sadly, I personally think there can be no easily set law. Because each piece of pop culture lends itself to a specific set of rules and regulations for the common courtesy of those we keep in our social circles. Case in point? Hellboy.

I caught a late showing of the flick with my Unshaven brother, Matt, a week prior to Endgame. We were alone in the theater and held a belief together that our expectations were mildly low. No one we personally knew had seen it, but a cursory glance over the common nerd haunts that declare ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ all collectively shrugged with a ‘meh’. With that in mind, we both walked out mostly pleased. And, dare I say it: spoiler alert. The film was not nearly as good as the previous incarnation as made by Ron Pearlman and Guillermo Del Toro. It was louder. Meaner. Maybe a tad more creepy in parts. But it largely seemed like 10 gallons of source material in a 5 gallon hat. That being said? We felt we got our money’s worth, and didn’t regret seeing it.

So… am I a villain now? Granted, I offered the alert prior to expounding delicately — without giving away specific plot points. Still, for anyone interested in the film… perhaps they are now even less likely to catch it (if, by any possibility it’s not already removed from theaters, with David Harbour quickly shifting all PR towards the upcoming Stranger Things season set to drop, so as to gain back any lost chutzpah he has with our ilk). For the sake of my argument? I honestly feel I could give away the best parts of the movie right now, and it might take tepid would-be watchers and actually turn them back into Mignola-motivated-movie-goers. But I’d rather leave well enough alone.

The truth of the matter is that spoiling  — be it maliciously purposeful or even accidental — shouldn’t be looked at with such slack-jawed shock and terror. Of course: I personally don’t like things ruined for me if I can avoid it. But if someone dropped a massive plot point at me for a piece of pop culture I knew I wanted to partake in… I’d somehow get to the other side unharmed. Hear me out:

Hearing / seeing a spoiler sucks, but it doesn’t ruin the totality of the experience of the consumption of the media. Rather, it frees your mind to not always think ahead, and instead place focus somewhere else during your viewing. All of us, whether we’d like to admit it or not, consume media in the comic / action / thriller / horror / sci-fi genres with a  similar patter; to watch is to guess. Where is the story headed? Am I buying in to the world being presented? Is the plot always two steps ahead of me, or am I always awaiting it to catch up? When you know what will occur, it allows that moment to arrive as expected, and frees us to hear something new, see something we’d otherwise be too engrossed to see, and we’ll all still end at the same point when the credits roll (or whatever the end of that consumption of said thing be).

Think of it this way: ever seen a great movie two times in the theater? Ever rewatch a favorite television show? Each time you do, you know where it’s going, so what do you do? You listen for new things. You pay closer attention to body language, nuance in the performances, set design, or soundtrack. You try to find seams in great CGI sequences, or catch a motif you didn’t pick up on the first viewing. And in doing so, you exit the theater at the same place as before… with the gift of all that you took in across the collective whole.

All of this to say: If you should ever become the victim of being spoiled? You’re allowed to hiss and spit at the would-be asshat. Sure. But don’t let it ruin your enjoyment of the work. The silver lining exists around the space the spoiler sits. Because you probably figured there was a chance Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, since that kid did say he saw dead people… all the time. So, get over it, and appreciate the motif of the color red, and enjoy the subtle performances of folks existing in the space of a would-be ghost. Spoil the spoilers, kids. Because if you let them savor their sour grapes… you’re letting them win needlessly.