...and he dies at the end

Hey, I've just seen an amazing new car! It has this big wing of metal stuck on at the back so that it improves the aerodynamic performance! I totally wasn't expecting to see that!

Oh, oops, perhaps I should have said... SPOILER ALERT.

Spoilers are an uncomfortable part of modern life. They are becoming almost unavoidable, which makes you wonder what the point of even trying to keep the relevant plot twist a surprise is. In this asynchronous life of different broadcast and release dates between countries, time-shifting DVRs and video downloads, there's no reason to assume that people will see a new film, book or TV show at anything like the same time, and so a little more consideration in when spoiler-tastic information is revealed would be nice.

The BBC are particularly bad offenders with their "Doctor Who" televisual series. (I'll try and avoid any spoilers myself for a bit). At the end of every episode, before the closing credits have finished running, they tend to show a trailer for the next episode which gives away pretty much the entire plot. Their most recent story was spread across two episodes, and the first one had a big plot revelation at the end. I managed to avoid seeing any trailers or hints, any on line message boards and so on. However, I had the misfortune to visit England between the airing of the first and second episodes in the story, and had the big surprise ruined by... the front cover of the Radio Times. I mean, honestly... can't you appreciate that there may be some people who don't see the programme within five seconds of broadcast?

Another offender are the blurb writers of this world. How many times have you read the back of a book or DVD only to find pretty much the whole plot given away in a single paragraph? I recently played around with this idea with some friends, and we came up with the following (some spoilers, mostly for films that have been out for between ten and sixty years)

HA: "When a big shootout goes down, it's time to round up 'The Usual
Suspects'. But can the police trust the story of the cripple (Kevin
Spacey), or is he just making it up based on objects and words he can see
in the interview room?"

HA: "When Brad Pitt has to investigate a series of murders based on the Se7en
deadly sins, will he be able to stop the crazed killer (Kevin Spacey) in
time before he finds Pitt's wife and cuts off her head and mails it in a
box to him?"

AN: "Luke Skywalker flees Hoth to train with master Yoda on Dagobah only to
learn that his friends are in trouble at Cloud City where they've been
sold out to Darth Vader by Llando Calrissian. How will Luke react when
he discovers that Darth Vader is his father?"

NJ: When private detective Miles Archer is gunned down in cold blood by
femme fatale Miss Wonderly, his colleague Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart)
must use all his skills of deduction to beat Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre)
and his portly associate Kaspar Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) to the
location of the priceless Maltese Falcon, before everybody finds out
it's actually a forgery."

Feel free to think of your own. And keep them to yourself.

I'll let Penny Arcade have the final word on the matter of spoilers.


Anonymous said...

This is from a few years ago. Practically everyone has either seen this film or knows the ending, but just in case, I've ROT-13ed the quote.

I'm watching "The Sixth Sense" on the telly. Housemate comes in, takes one look, and goes, "Ol gur jnl, ur'f npghnyyl qrnq."

As it happens, it didn't matter, as I already knew how the film ended. But still.

Anonymous said...

I too was rather peeved by the RT and sent an evil email to my friend who works there. Grrrh.

Have you seen both parts now?