R is for Reveal

| April 8, 2014




Just kidding. It’s not like you were expecting this post to contain massive spoilers anyway, but it’s amazing how common it is to see notations like that on articles, social media posts, comments, reviews—everywhere—nowadays.

With growing technology and means to communicate, humans now have the ability to respond instantly and digitally to texts that they experience. The “spoiler” phenomenon, though, really mostly pertains to tv shows, films, and books, in which storylines and plot events can be valued by the audience. With this ability to instantly communicate/ discuss what is going on in these texts (digitally or in person), there is also a constant fear of getting “spoiled,” or finding out the events of a text before getting to experience it, firsthand, on your own.

As consumers of these texts, we tend to be obsessed with the “reveals”—the plot twists, the fates of beloved characters, the long-awaited events. When these “reveals” are revealed to us prematurely, it’s easy to get upset. I definitely agree that there is something inherently more “authentic” about an aesthetic experience when you experience it for the first time. The emotions are fresher and the connections are stronger.

However, that doesn’t seem to stop us from re-reading books or re-watching movies or series that we loved the first time. In those cases, knowing the reveals ahead of time almost adds a new element to the experience, and you notice things you never have before. Although knowledge can add multiple layers to a story, perhaps people feel robbed of the “first time,” fresh experience?

It also gets complicated knowing when, where, and how to speak about these reveals once we’ve already experience them. Including disclaimers is one way to get around it, but it is sometimes frustrating to keep track of which friends have seen which episode, which friends watch the show but haven’t read the book, which friends have seen a movie before you have. Being hyper-conscious of “spoiling” people or being spoiled can in some ways limit how we interact with one another.

For example, one of my friends kept asking questions about last week’s How I Met Your Mother finale before having seen it. Knowing that she’d get angry if I told her anything directly, I didn’t know how to phrase my answers in a way that didn’t give away the ending. Even being vague or discussing my own emotional reactions indicates some type of affirmative/ negative response and can give away endings. It made me frustrated because I obviously wanted to talk about it, but by asking questions, my friend was simply inviting spoilers upon her own experience.

There’s a very interesting article about this topic, and about “spoiler etiquette” from EW here.

And, of course, there are also those wonderful people known as “trolls” who thrive on spoiling people’s experiences. #neverforgive