In part one of our discussion, I talked about how online reviews, mostly posted and distributed via social media, are diminishing the joy of entertainment. Today, let’s look at another negative effect that the internet can have on movies and television. We’re gonna talk about how social media and spoiler culture are ruining entertainment.
If, for some reason, you don’t know what a “spoiler” is, it’s when a person or media outlet gives away a major plot point, especially an ending, for any kind of story before you have had a chance to read/watch/listen to the story for yourself. They’ve always been a bummer to encounter, but social media has caused them to spread like wildfire. No one is safe! Look out! Here comes the ending to “Game of Thrones”! (Not really – I wouldn’t do you like that.)
Spoiler alert: you’re going to make some enemies!
I still vividly remember the first time I “spoiled” a movie for someone. It was 1997 and I’d recently returned to Canada, where I grew up, from a trip to Tennessee to see family. While there, I went to see “Men in Black” (the original one) with my brother. I was talking about it with friends who hadn’t seen it. In those days, my small hometown got movies on a later schedule than the US. By the way – if you haven’t yet seen this 22 year old movie, I’m about to spoil a bit of it for you. My friends were joking that there weren’t any women in the Men in Black organization, and I said that, by the end of the movie, a woman did join. Boy, were they MAD at me! And this wasn’t even at the height of spoiler-paranoia!
Way back before Twitter and Facebook, people certainly tried to avoid “spoilers”. (I remember a guy spoiling “The Sixth Sense” for me. I know, right? One of the biggest movie-twists EVER – RUINED for me!) Social media came along and now, anytime there is a movie, book, or TV show with any kind of high stakes and several people watching it, you have to dodge spoilers left and right. Even though I’m lucky and most of my friends are careful and courteous on Facebook, I have seen major media outlets give away significant plot details right in article headlines, with absolutely no warning!
Spoiler alert: this is getting out of hand
While I appreciate wanting to avoid spoilers, it’s beginning to affect movies and other media in significant ways. Movie star Brie Larson talked about how Marvel’s fear of details of “Avengers: Endgame” being leaked online impacted her as a performer. I won’t give away major spoilers in case you’re not caught up, but Larson’s Marvel character, Captain Marvel, appears in “Endgame”. She shot her scenes for that movie, and one scene for “Captain Marvel”, before all of the shooting of her character’s solo movie. According to her, she had no idea what the exact context of her scenes were, because Marvel wanted plot details kept top secret. At least one of her scenes, in which she appears with several Marvel stars, the actors weren’t even there on set with her! She shot on a green screen, only knowing her one line for the scene and some basic direction. Larson is a talented and experienced enough professional that she made it work, of course.
But, the fact that she had to do that is completely insane. As an actor myself, knowing details about your character is kinda important. Then you have other actors from those movies, like Tom Holland, who plays Spiderman, accidentally revealing certain plot details, and Marvel rewards him by not even giving him a script for “Endgame”. He wasn’t even allowed to know which actors were in his scenes. He got only his lines!
Spoiler alert: so what do we do?
Listen, I hate it when I hear a spoiler as much as anyone else. But it only has to diminish your enjoyment of a movie/TV show/book if you let it. I accidentally spoiled a plot detail from “Breaking Bad” before I’d finished the series. When the event actually occurred, I was still just as emotionally-affected by it as I would have been not knowing. The only thing that was missing was the surprise. And, at least in this instance, it actually added suspense for me. I knew something HUGE would happen, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it. But the paranoia isn’t helpful – social media is ruining entertainment with spoiler culture.
That’s not to say that I think we should all just recklessly post spoilers to Twitter. If you do that deliberately, you’re just being mean. But if you see a spoiler, try not to get too upset about it. You can still enjoy the story. In the end, the story and whatever it might mean to you is what really matters.