Do Spoilers Matter?
by Ethan Glover, Sun, Oct 12, 2014 - (Edited) Tue, Dec 26, 2017
The PBS Idea Channel is usually a great source for inspiration and always thought provoking. The latest video, "Are There Rules for Spoilers?" is no exception. However, to me there is no debate to be had about spoilers because they don't matter. If someone were to ask me if I hate or don't care about spoilers there would be two answers depending on the situation. Either I don't care, or I love spoilers.
A "spoiler," of a movie for instance, always involves a summary of an ending, plot twist, or important event. For this to bother me would be no different than being upset about seeing a 3-day weather forecast. It's mostly meaningless. If I had never seen the Sixth Sense and someone told me that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, that can't possibly ruin the experience. What happens in the movie, its explicit scenes and messages are not important. It's not what happens that matters, it's the subjective implicit interpretations that matter.
I love it when someone gives me their analysis of the message of the film and what the producers want to say with either the whole film or a specific scene before I watch it. This allows me to watch the film from both their perspective and my own. I can analyze the movie myself while simultaneously comparing it with what I've heard. This creates a more involved and more interesting viewing experience.
Most people watch films passively and only take in the plot, maybe they make a whodunit prediction, get mad at the evildoer, or express sadness when a protagonist dies. But watching only these elements and not considering the deeper messages, especially the ones that may or may not have been placed there on purpose by the movie producers can be woefully boring.
Think of it this way. When you watch a behind the scenes video that explains the special effects of a TV show and shows exactly how everything is fake, does it ruin the show? Even if it's currently running and you haven't seen everything yet? Of course not. Once you get into the show your sense of reality leaves you, this is what good shows and movies do. The behind the scenes may even help you to appreciate the show even more because understanding what goes into making it happen takes you to a deeper level.
In the same way, developing an appreciation for the literally infinite amount of possibilities for interpreting media helps you take things to a deeper level.
Spoilers? Take it further, move above and beyond such a debate. Instead of talking about how "amazed" or "wowed" you were over the ending, try taking the discussion to a deeper level. Maybe the authority of True Blood resembles government, and maybe government tends to act as a vampire hive. Maybe Vee in Orange is the New Black represents the effects of toxic and damaged personalities on society as a whole, or even small social groups. (ie. bad apples) Maybe Rio 2 represents a damaged family unit that has become engrained into culture as a whole.
With deep topics like these, who cares if Eric Northman obviously died by meeting the true death on a mountain peak at the end of the last season only to be brought back in the final seasons first episode with the Hep-V virus? Who cares if he chose his girlfriend over his prodigy only to see the girl die? What matters is what your mind does with this information. How was he saved? Why did he choose death for his prodigy, isn't he supposed to be strong of mind? It's the individual thoughts that matter, the plot and all of its "spoilers" are only a tool. They are the means to an end, not the end in itself.