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My Rules on Spoilers

Let’s get this straight. NOT EVERYTHING IS A SPOILER.  This Sunday I posted this tweet:

“I’ve been typecast as a straight dude for 20 years,” @Michael_Rooker, just now, on the phone as he drives to Atlanta for #WalkingDead.

Suddenly, I got a bunch of tweets calling me out for spoiling the show.

Give me a break. Firstly, the fact that Rooker is coming back has been all over the fan press.  Secondly, I don’t say WHEN he’s coming back. And, thirdly, we know this character is still alive, he cut off his own hand to survive, and he’s holding a grudge – if you don’t know he’s coming back already, you’re a moron.


Later that evening, I posted a photo on Facebook of the green explosion from that evening’s Game of Thrones, with the caption:  “I have loved many explosions in my life but I just might love this explosion most.”

Once again I was besieged by the “Thanks for spoiling it, dude!” comments.

A screenshot is also not a spoiler. I’m not giving away any major plot twists, revealing a character death, etc.  I don’t think anyone’s enjoyment of Game of Thrones was diminished in any way by the shot.

The point of all this is people need to limit their parameters of what they consider a spoiler. We, the fan community, have become incredibly over-sensitive, looking for spoilers at ever turn.  And, when everything’s a spoiler,  that unfortunately makes an light of when someone is actually spoiling something.

I too, don’t want important things spoiled. I liked going into Cabin in the Woods not knowing what was coming – I think it was important for my enjoyment of the film in that particular situation.  I hated when Roger Ebert gave away a shocking plot twist in the first paragraph of his review for SUPER.  But every single plot point in every story ever told is not a spoiler.

So, before we call something a spoiler, let’s just think for a second, is this really something that’s going to diminish my enjoyment of whatever the movie or TV show is? Usually, it’s not going to affect it at all.  I’m going to enjoy that next episode of Hardcastle & McCormick just as much, whether or not I know George Clooney is making a cameo in act two, or there’s going to be a green explosion in act three.

Also, if you don’t want something to be spoiled, especially a TV show the night it’s on, STAY OFF THE FUCKING INTERNET.  Quit blaming others for your own addiction to reading your Twitter and Facebook feed.  If you still have the finale of American Idol on your DVR and don’t know Phillip Phillips won last week, stay off your computer and TV and wear blinders when you pass newsstands so you won’t find out.

Oh, shit. Sorry. I just spoiled that one for you too.

And, finally, I’m considering this a contract of sorts with people who follow me on Facebook and Twitter.  You’re being warned.  Here are the things I do NOT consider a spoiler:

  1. Plot twists or endings of films that have become more well known than the movies they’re in, i.e. Sixth Sense, Soylent Green, Crying Game.
  2. Stunning plot twists in TV shows – i.e. Charlie’s death in Lost – once they’ve become a part of the online cultural conversation, often a week or two after the show airs.  (Yes, I know this screws my European followers, who often don’t get TV shows until months after they air here – but you also don’t get creationists or anti-vaccination whackjobs, so I guess we’re even.)
  3. Winners of reality show seasons the day after the finale airs.
  4. People who get kicked off a regular episode of a reality show after the Pacific feed airs. (If this upsets you, it doesn’t mean I’ve spoiled it, it means you need to get a life.)

If you’re at odds with any of this, feel free to unfollow me on Twitter or unsubscribe on Facebook.  If it does not, let’s continue the fun conversations we’ve been having.


© 2012, James Gunn. All rights reserved.

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  • Haha, this is fantastic! It especially hits home because I just started Lost recently and I am watching that exact episode with Charlie’s death. At first, I was like, “come on dude, you’ve just ruined it for me!” But after a second, I thought to myself, “this episode aired almost ten years ago, I really can’t be mad.” It all reminds me of a great Penny Arcade:

  • Dugan

    I see the entire plots in movie trailers and commercials. it’s gotten so bad that my family has dubbed me “spoiler alert” and won;t let me out of my room under the stairs. It’s a curse. If I see any media, or discussions, or pictures, or interviews about a show, it’s all ruined. I cry every night. Spolier Alert – I’ve been dead the whole time.

  • mrmach7

    i think you would agree james that a spoiler is something that distracts a person from enjoying the natural process of experiencing something for the first time. while some of these things don’t bother you, they do matter to others

    it’s easy to say an explosion screen shot doesn’t name a character death, but someone out there is going to be distracted for the whole episode because they can tell something is going to blow up 29 minutes in. just because it’s not news to you anymore doesn’t create a non-spoiler due to any passage of time or magnitude of information

    thanks for the blog post on this, whenever you wrote it. it’s interesting to get a thorough explanation from the crowd of people who prefer to hold everyone else accountable for staying off the internet, instead of being mindful about what they say

  • Sara Rolle

    Here in Europe people watch US. Tv shows with subtitles through internet, so don’t worry about spoiler.

  • Zootlander

    marco ur gay shhh

  • I do think that Game of Thrones explosion is a bit of a spoiler.
    *SPOILER WARNING for the 9th episode of the second season of Game of Thrones* ;)It’s known that Tyrion Lannister is trying to use wildfire (shown to be green) as a secret weapon, but it’s unknown how it will be used and if his plan will work at all. Several episodes have been building up to that moment, so I do think it is a major plot point.If it wasn’t for the green fire that gives it away, it likely wouldn’t make sense but I imagine most could figure it out what happened, which ruins a bit of the tension of the Battle of the Blackwater. Yes, perhaps people these days are too spoiler sensitive, but in this case I side with those who considered it a spoiler.

    • Liam Sheils

       I was thinking exactly the same thing but you explained it better than I would have. You only have to hear the tiniest trace of something about a programme you know well and you find yourself accidentally making an intelligent guess at the rest, which often substantially marrs your enjoyment. If anything, I actually think that media sources should be much more spoiler-conscious. And yes, I could just avoid certain things on the web and minimise the risks – but I’m just far too much of a geek to stay away. I don’t want to hear too much about what I haven’t seen yet but interviews with actors and show creators, etc., or reviews of things I’ve already seen – I’m all over it.

      I liked the feature though even though I disagreed with it. Please try to write some more next time you have some time for a rant – rants be fun.

  • As a European: When I really like a tv-show, i watch it one or two days after it aired on the US-television. So in that case spoilers are okay for me, since i can avoid them quite easily. 

    But I remember, when someone told me the ending of Sixth Sense, when it still was in the cinemas. He made an enemy for life. ;)But to be fair: It was an extremly awesome explosion/episode of Game Of Thrones. :D

  • Johannes Kohler

    ’nuff said!