I’ve been thinking a lot lately about spoilers. Between the latest Avengers movie and the excitement around the last season of Game of Thrones, Twitter has been rife with them over the past week.

Spoiler … I don’t watch Game of Thrones so I won’t ruin anything for you here.

And spoiler number two … while I love the Marvel cannon, I’m a bit behind at the moment and still need to see Infinity War. So … you’re safe with me.

I was already thinking about this topic and then Vivi’s awesome post on Monday got me thinking about the whole concept a bit more and, so here we are!

What strikes me when we talk about anything “spoil-worthy” is that it’s tied to an emotion that is so rife with passion and excitement and enthusiasm that it almost seems to be a creation all its own.

What collective zeitgeist is tapped into when such large numbers of people are so engaged in a topic? It’s storytelling, yes, but it feels like it’s something more. Something bigger. Is it an innate need to belong? A deep desire to share with others? Or just a collective moment in time that seems to register with a mass audience?

I suspect it’s all those things and something more. When we collectively engage in consuming a creator’s work, we both see ourselves in that work and we exist with others in the same framework. It’s why, when we love something we read or see or even eat, we rush to tell others, requesting they do the same.

For all the grumbling about spoilers, if we look beneath the surface, I’d argue that there’s something else at play. A “spoiler” is all about a person’s deep need to share their excitement and immersion and joy in a created work. Isn’t that what we all hope to create as writers? Something so immersive and powerful that people can’t wait to talk about it and share it?

While I’m not quite ready to endorse spoiling something so much fun for another person (especially very early when the true die-hards are waiting to experience the same), I do think the need to talk about something we love is deeply human. Perhaps that’s the real magic in big events like Avengers and GoT. Yes, the story is fun and immersive, but so is the wonder of sharing it with others. When we do that, we allow the creation to live and go on, well beyond the time we spent with it.

I’d love to hear what you think!



4 responses to “Spoilers”

  1. Elizabeth Langston says:

    I think my husband would agree that I love to share stories. I recently read a Mafia romance. On the surface, I shouldn’t like them. The characters are bad people doing horrific things. And yet I have found a handful of authors who make me care about these truly awful people enough that I cheer when they find love. So I tell him the stories (even with spoilers ’cause he doesn’t read fiction.) And he sits there patiently, trying not to glaze over–because I want to discuss them so badly.

    Yes, I get that need. (And I don’t watch GoT either.)

  2. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> What collective zeitgeist is tapped into when such large numbers of people are so engaged in a topic? It’s storytelling, yes, but it feels like it’s something more. Something bigger. Is it an innate need to belong?

    I read an article a couple days ago at The Guardian which said that last weekend “…was Peak-Geek Weekend – a moment of unprecedented, unrepeatable pop-cultural excitement – that was global in scale. Never, in the field of human geekdom, has so much geeking out been done by so many, over the long-awaited climaxes of two of the most supremely geeky properties ever made.” (LINK – no spoilers!)

    The geeks have inherited the earth, and it is (largely) divine. 🙂

    Maybe I’m a weirdo (what else is new?) but I love spoilers. LOVE ‘EM. I won’t see Avengers: Endgame for months, but I already know how it ends. Same thing for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. If someone’s written a review with a big ol’ spoiler warning, I’m all over it.

    I think one of the reasons I’ve always been drawn to genre fiction is that I enjoy predictability. Depending on the genre I choose to read or write, I already know how the story is going to end. It’s the variation in GETTING THERE that brings me so much pleasure and satisfaction.

  3. I have mixed feelings about spoilers. I see that they are generated by excitement and I love the idea of the shared geekdom – I desperately want to talk to people about things that I love too! But I also have spent a large portion of my life in time zones that lag behind a large chunk of the online populace so it’s frustrating to have to remind myself to NEVER GO TO TWITTER OR FB after 4pm on any day that has a show I might watch that night. (Or 2pm if I’m in Hawaii.)

    Most film & television shockers don’t surprise me (as they probably don’t surprise most writers who are programmed to see the signs of a story arc in progress), but it’s still annoying that I can watch something at the very first moment I’m able and it won’t be fresh to me. Even vague spoilers like an emoji or gif with the hashtag will have me spending the entire episode mentally dissecting exactly which moment caused that feeling in the poster. Because my brain apparently cannot let that stuff go. I’m part of an online cabal of former Jeopardy folks and we have STRICT rules that there is to be NO discussion of that day’s episode until after 11pm Eastern because that is when the last market airs (and it is my market).

    I have spent a lot of time in the east too – and it’s fun to be online when things are happening live, to see your reactions reflected in others, to share that experience… but yeah, I have mixed feelings about spoilers. Because it makes it hard to just process and react to something myself when I have all those other voices echoing their opinions through my experience. I want to talk about that stuff AFTER I’ve seen and reacted to it myself – so I’m kind of a fan of the Spoiler Moratorium that the Endgame folks requested – which the directors say lifts on Monday. It just seems like courtesy.

  4. Gwyn says:

    I’ve never seen GoT, but I bought the books for Hubble and read the first three (or four?) before the disgust factor became more than my low yuck threshold could bear, so I’m in for spoilers. Curiosity made me want to know what happened without subjecting myself to the other stuff.

    I’m not one to read the end of a book first, so I tend to be more protective of story endings in that format. Movies, however, are another animal, and spoilers will often decide whether I bother to watch or not. My down-time is limited, so I don’t want to waste it on something I won’t enjoy.

    Selfish of me, I suppose, but practical.

    That said, I’ll have Endgame as soon as it becomes available–movie theaters aren’t an option for us, at this point–and enjoy it with Hubble while parked on my comfy sofa. I’ve been avoiding the spoilers for that one.


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