Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Word On Spoiler Alerts

A plot twist is great fun. It's one the few times in life we actually enjoy being wrong. A twist forces reevaluation of the narrative—it is the apogee of plot development, the spice of storytelling. However, there is one glaring drawback—twists rely entirely on not being revealed prematurely, or "spoiled."

At this point, I don't even know why I'm explaining the "spoiler" concept to you. You're reading this on the internet, so you're likely to have been exposed to several SPOILER ALERTS just on the way to this site. Spoilers probably pertaining to something that's patiently awaiting to be watched on your DVR. Even though, who are you kidding? You'll never get around to watching The Killing, especially when you still haven't watched a second of Rubicon. DVR space comes at a premium, so just move on, for chrissakes—if you cared at all, you would have watched it by now. 

But let's please get off you for just a goddamn second. 

My point is, the SPOILER ALERT phrase has become so prevalent that it seems damn-near inescapable while referencing film, television, or literature. It's even used comedically (albeit, cheaply) in all facets of everyday conversation. Like when your dad's all, "Your mom and I had a great time in Colonial Williamsburg last weekend. Sorry you didn't get to go, but, SPOILER ALERT: you'll probably have to share a bunk-bed with a shrieking baby brother or sister nine months from now, you little prick." 

WOW, your dad's an ASSHOLE! Did he have to say it like that? What a terrible way to convey what is otherwise good news. And how is he so sure to have impregnated your mom? At her age? Please. Frankly, I don't see how she stomachs the prick. But she's probably a prick too, come to think of it. And that little brother or sister on the way? Likely a prick by birthright. Which, in turn, makes you a prick as well. Tough break. At least now we both know what I mean by these pricks using SPOILER ALERT in the wrong context. 

But can we please stop talking about you for just one goddamn minute?

What I'm trying to say is that it's time to rein that shit in—very few situations actually require loose disclaimers. And more specifically, very few stories are completely reliant on twists for effect. So, in turn, the phrase should be used sparingly. 

The thing is, some people are so spoiler-sensitive that divulging even the most minuscule of plot points sends these pricks into epileptic shock, further diluting the phrase, and suddenly increasing the number of situations for which it requires use in the first place. 

And look, it's about time for these people on the receiving end of spoilers to calm the fuck down. Yes, it's disappointing to be told a key plot element before getting there by yourself, but Christ, it's not about the payoff all the time—it's about the journey. On top of that, recent studies have revealed that for most people, knowing the end of a story prematurely doesn't hinder the overall enjoyment of the experience. As a matter of fact, the contrary is true, it actually enhances the enjoyment. How's that for some shit?

So, please, by all means, refrain from divulging the Shyamalanian twist at the end of last weekend's sleeper box-office hit, but give it just that, a few days. After that, it's fair game to say whatever the fuck you please about anything to anyone. And if you're one of these pricks who inadvertently hears about said ending after those initial days, don't act like your whole prick-life is ruined; they're most likely doing you a favor. 

There are of course, exceptions. Say you meet some young person who's never even heard of The Crying Game. In this situation, you should probably keep the ending to yourself and encourage that person to watch it with you. This is because, at least once in life, you deserve to watch someone else experience an unexpected prick-twist. 

Ironically, an unexpected prick-twist also might have kept your little brother or sister from being born into your prick family, but for the last time, can we stop talking about you for just a small goddamn fraction of time? 

Actually, just watch the video below and free yourself from the chains of spoilertude, you'll be better off for it:


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