Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Spoilers! They exist everywhere, don’t they? You can’t seem to go through life without some person telling you the spoiler for something you’re watching. They’re awful, aren’t they… or are they? Are spoilers really that bad? Or do they instead enhance the story?
First off, lets look at what we’re talking about when we’re discussing spoilers. Spoilers, in this instance, is when you get told future events in a piece of fiction that you don’t want to hear. You’d rather experience the piece of fiction blind rather than know what is going to happen. You don’t want to know that it was his sled or that he was dead all along. Those things spoil the piece of fiction. But does that mean one can experience a work completely spoil-free?
Well lets look at something that TV Tropes calls â€œSpoiled by the Formatâ€ or, as The Muppet Movie put it, â€œHuh, this is going to be a really short movieâ€. You know that the big climax of the story isn’t going to happen when you’re only halfway through the book, or up to episode ten of twenty three in the series, or you’ve yet to see a scene from the trailer in the movie. You know, via real-world reasons, that the story just isn’t going to stop there. The story isn’t going to end at page two hundred with the good guy killed, with the remaining three hundred pages being the author’s views on proper gardening techniques (though, to be honest, that would be bloody hilarious if someone trolled the public like that). You know that this blog isn’t going to end at the end of this sentence, since you can physically see the rest of the blog beneath it. See, still going. You are already partially spoiled by the fact that you can use logic to know how much is left in the piece of fiction. But most people wouldn’t consider that a spoiler, would they? They don’t curse the fact that the heroes are in danger while knowing full well that the next episode will screen tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel. So does this mean a level of spoilers are okay? Well lets look at things that people spoil quite regularly.
Okay so, fair warning, major spoiler ahead. You might want to avoid the rest of this blog due to how big this one is. Deal? Deal.
Right so in The New Testament, the second ‘part’ of the Bible, Jesus is killed off. Yep, Judas betrays him, he gets crucified and actually dies. But, not to worry. He ends up being resurrected three days later. What a twist, right? Totally didn’t see it coming. But you know that, didn’t you?
And while I’ll readily admit I stole that joke from the Bug webcomic (which you should check out, it’s actually quite funny), the Church really does spoil the ending of the New Testament, don’t they? Having Jesus crucified appearing all round the church, making it their symbol and everything. They tell you right at sign-up that Jesus died for our sins, spoiling the climax of the book. But we’re okay with that. We accept that and don’t treat it as a spoiler. Why though? Why is that okay to be spoiled but not what happened in the latest TV episode of Once Upon A Time? Well the answer is both obvious and obscure.
Fiction, good fiction, primarily relies on suspense. You are suppose to be terrified for the character’s safety as you experience the piece of fiction. You’re suppose to be sucked in, wondering if someone is going to make it or not, whether the day will be saved. You’re suppose to wonder who the murder is, or what the overall plot is. Really good fiction is built around on the audience not knowing something and having it revealed over time. Take this blog. As you read these words you learn more about what my ultimate point is, reliving that suspense. That is how fiction works. So by knowing what is going to happen, that spoils it all, right? It gets rid of all that suspense, flushes it down the toilet, making it no longer scary of threatening? That’s the obvious part. But what about the obscure part?
Well while suspense plays a part in the creation of fiction, it doesn’t come solely from not knowing what’s coming next. It also comes from knowing what’s coming next and seeing how the artist gets us to that point. If you know that Snape kills Dumbledore before you start reading the Harry Potter books, you start to analyse what J. K. Rowling is doing. You see the clues she leaves, the choices she makes in the text. You start to look at what led to this conclusion and whether it made sense. I mean no one can detest spoilers to the point where they’ll never re-engage with a work of fiction. I already know how the Doctor regenerates, I saw the episode last month, that doesn’t mean I can’t watch it again. I can admire it more, see why they did what they did. It’s not surprising, but it’s still good. So are spoilers wholly bad?
At the end of the day, no. Spoilers as a concept aren’t bad. We’re all spoiled in some way or another. I’ll never forget the day my mother spoiled the fact that I’m going to die someday, that I am mortal. I totally know that my life ends with my death at this point. Likewise if I choose to spoil something for myself, seek out information to further my own comprehension of something, that’s my decision. But spoilers that come from others telling you what happened? Yeah that’s when it’s bad, because that’s when it is unwanted. So at the end of the day (again?), spoilers are only bad when we don’t want to receive them. But, like it or not, we’re always going to get them.
So there you have it. My look at spoilers to see if they’re good or bad. If you disagree with anything, or anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.