So what about spoilers?


I’m not so evil as to spoil the fun for others, but the aversion towards spoilers is something I don’t understand. Why do people get mad at spoilers? This might be an obvious question, but I want to do it properly.

Let’s start with a definition (the scientist in me wants to, and behold, he can!):

spoiler definition

1. A remark which reveals important plot elements from books or movies, thus denying the reader (of the article) the proper suspense when reading the book or watching the movie.

2. Any remark which telegraphs the solution of a problem or puzzle, thus denying the reader the pleasure of working out the correct answer. Either sense readily forms compounds like “total spoiler”, “quasi-spoiler” and even “pseudo-spoiler”.

Although this particular definition in this particular dictionary inserts some comments of its own, anecdotal evidence points out the truth. The sequence in consuming a medium is important to its enjoyment. So far, so obvious. Spoilers effectively break this sequence to the detriment of one’s enjoyment. Gotcha.

Here’s where my personal preference deviates. I’m not particularly worried about spoilers of any shape, size or kind. In a previous post I mentioned I like discussions that aren’t about “what is going to happen” but more the ones that are about “what is actually happening.” In this way it’s not the sequence, but the contents that are important. The sequence might give meaning to the content, but this is different from the order in which the contents are consumed. It is simply easier for our brains to follow [1]. So again we tie it back to the way we enjoy our entertainment.

Which is not to say I don’t enjoy those “what is going to happen” kind of stories. I still remember intensely reading Death Note and I noticed my heart started beating faster. I also don’t purposely go out of my way to watch something in a wrong order (though confusion isn’t bad per se)[2]. But my favourite stories are always the ones I can get spoiled on and still enjoy to the fullest[3]. The great stories that, no matter how many times I hear them, will never get old.

We know how Fate/Zero ends, do we enjoy that?

So does that make me the oddball out there or am I part of an unspoken minority?

[1] The first season of Haruhi (TV order vs chronological order) is a great case to study. A lot of other factors might also come into play (Multiple viewpoints? Unreliable authors? How does the brain even cope with these?). The discussion is too broad and I won’t have it here.

[2] I did this, not on purpose, by watching Fumoffu! before the first season (the back-when-Gonzo-was-good one).

[3] The events in any Gundam are hardly secret to me, but that doesn’t stop me. Clichéd stories don’t stop me either.

One thought on “So what about spoilers?

  1. Pingback: Hyouka: my favourite ice cream | Numbers and space

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