Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spoiler Alert

--a term to describe when crucial elements of a movie are about to be revealed (i.e. the ending, character deaths, a twist, etc.)

When discussing a book or a movie, have you ever had someone assure you they won't give anything away and then in their lame attempt at a "veiled reference to something" done just that? Recently this issue came up... actually several times. I really appreciate the words "spoiler alert" because I can stop reading the review or article and resume when they tell me it's safe and I'm happier for it. I am a person who prefers to approach my movies and books fresh, open, like a blank slate.

Of course, I usually I read the backs of books or I've seen movie trailers (often dripping with spoilers... ATTN: trailer producer people... teasers are so much better than tell-all trailers... no one wants to see the whole movie in the trailer, unless they don' t intend to bother with the movie at all). So I don't usually approach a film truly fresh, but I would rather not know the punchline or the ending or the whole twist. I didn't see The Sixth Sense because I already knew... In fact, when someone says to me, "You'll be surprised by the ending. It's not what you think it is." Even that statement colors the entire way I read or watch a story.

This spoiler issue came up three times this week:

The first incident was in the break room at school when two teachers were discussing the previous night's episode of Brothers and Sisters and I hadn't seen it yet. I only heard the words, "Does he die?" and I got up and left the table. Even that one sentence colored the entire way I watched the program. The commercials hinted that someone would be in the hospital, but they are also known for being misleading and so even knowing it was a "he" sort of clued me in. It was not a big deal. Still, the show is sort of dumb to begin with and the suspense is all I have.

My mom is notorious for doing this to me. She insists she won't give something away and then she does. Because I can read her too well, and I'm not stupid, mainly. She even did it on Tuesday when I was watching the Bachelor After the Rose Ceremony part II... I was watching the show about 20 minutes behind her (DVR) and we'd been talking earlier and I was explaining how Jillian was my favorite girl on the show. I knew they were going to reveal the next Bachelorette, this was about the only "joy" in the whole program for me... satisfying that curiosity. I suspected it might be Jill but I didn't know yet.

Then the phone rings & I didn't answer because I was exercising and watching and the phone was across the room and when curiosity finally got the better of me, I paused the DVR and I listened to a message from my mom and she said... "Well, that Bachelor show just ended. I guess you are already in bed, which means you probably don't know..." at which point I hung up the phone and didn't listen to the rest of the message because I just knew she was about to tell me who the next bachelorette was. But I might as well have listened to her message because I knew that the only reason she'd have called me was to let me know that my favorite was picked.

There are times when knowing the ending before beginning doesn't interfere with my desire to read or watch. Yet, more often than not, knowing the ending kills the urge to even bother. Of course at book club, if you've not finished the book and it's the day of discussion, too bad for you because we WILL be discussing the ending and why not, it IS book club. However, back in December, Andrea mentioned a title, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, that I thought sounded intriguing and I've been meaning to read it ever since. It's a mystery so I'm guessing suspense is important. Even though this is not a book we've selected as a group book, two other people read the book since we'd last met and they wanted to talk about. Now forgive me for not wanting to hear too much since it's on my to read list.

I quickly left the table in an effort to miss this discussion and as the ladies proceeded to discuss various points regarding characters and so forth, I even heard the words, "and the ending..." I was assured moments before I put my fingers in my ears and left the room that they wouldn't give anything away. But how do they know how much is too much for me? I might have a different standard of how much I want to know? A fellow book club member pointed out later that by leaving the table even after they'd insisted they'd not give anything away, I was demonstrating a lack of trust in them and that perhaps I might even hurt someone's feelings or risk being rude by doing that.

I wouldn't want to do that, but honestly... I don't trust people just because they believe they can discuss the book without revealing anything of consequence. I have been burned too many times by too many people. It's the same with "secrets." I've known people who THINK they are being clever or mysterious when in reality they've just completely given away someone's secret. The same goes for the film or movie business I'm thinking of. Even a small offhand remark can answer questions for me and end up revealing the twist at the end of a story. I do my best to guard against that at every opportunity. If that makes me rude, forgive me. If it suggests I don't trust you not to reveal something, you are correct. Sorry.

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