Friday, September 19, 2008


CB quoted a comedian at me this morning, "I meant to read the Bible, but then, someone gave away the ending."

That got me thinking. The fear of spoilers is huge in American culture. It is a mortal sin to spoil a book or a movie for a person. It took me a while to understand. Only after I took a few (verbal) beatings for unsuspectingly trying to discuss the ending of a book/movie, did I finally pretend I understand the rules and start playing by them.

My children are even worse. In the months before the sixth Harry Potter book came out, one of them (or both, I don't remember) had changed their Newgrounds forum signature to "SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE". I still enjoyed the book, by the way. (If you meant to read the book and I just spoiled it for you, well, at this point, you're really weird, my friend.)

I just don't get the hype, though. When I read a book, ninety times out of a hundred I will peek at the end. This has never stopped me from enjoying a good book. To me, it is not as important to know that the plot gets from point A to point B as to find out how it gets there; to enjoy the journey with the author. If it is a good book, then the language, character development and their inner philosophy, other thoughts expressed on its pages take priority over the plot. If there is nothing to book other than its plot, I don't want to waste my time reading it, spoilers or no spoilers.

It turns out I am not alone. Recently I came across this article about spoilers by a Russian movie critic. If you don't read Russian (and why is that, may I ask? Shame on you!), the contents of the article in a nutshell are that a good movie cannot be spoiled by giving away the ending. Anna Karenina threw herself under a train, says the author, Don Juan paid for his sins, and the Titanic sank. Knowing these details, however, did not stop anybody from reading the book or seeing the movie.

Arguments against disclosing the plot, the author continues, are based on a questionable concept that a movie is essentially a narrative. That the main thing about a movie is the story it tells. That the only way to impress a viewer is by grabbing the chair from under him at the right moment. But a movie is after all more than a retelling of a plot, and it works on different levels of perception.

The above is my attempt at translating a paragraph and a half of the article. I found myself agreeing with its author completely. By insisting that there be no spoilers, we cheapen the movie or book. Why bother employing Hollywood stars and spending millions on production if all that matters is how the movie ended? Just make a low-budget cartoon with the same plot and get it over with. Right? Why bother writing a thousand-page book when you can just print the beginning and the end - or some kind of cliff notes that lay out the plot in two pages or so? It's all that counts, right?

Let's be proactive, people. Let's start a movement. Let's be the change agents. I say we continue giving away the plot of every movie and every book to everyone we know until people finally realize that it's not the plot that counts. It's the quality of the movie or book. If that quality is poor, then it should not be seen or read. And if the quality is good, then the spoiler won't spoil any of your reading or viewing experience.

The Goldie has spoken at 12:42 PM

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