Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I like spoilers more than River Song does

Recently, some literary critic caused a big internet kerfluffle when he said that people who get made about spoilers are doing it wrong.

I'm obviously paraphrasing because I don't speak "literary critic" but that was the gist of it. He basically pointed out that if you could only feel tension or excitement or care about a story once, then you wouldn't enjoy re-reading or re-watching things. And science has proven that untrue, we do feel tension and get excited even about things we've seen a million times.

None of these statements are wrong. In an article about it, people pointed out that the problem wasn't the spoilers, but when people take away your own decision if you want to be spoiled or not by intentionally spoiling things.

This is also true. See, I very much abhor the people who love to spoil things for others. You know the type, the ones who flipped to the last page of Harry Potter to yell "Snape kills Dumbledore" at the people waiting in line for their copy.

But you notice something about that last paragraph? I didn't post a spoiler alert in that paragraph. Because I also believe that after seven years, there's a limit to how much a person can ask the rest of the world to censor themselves. It's all about reasonable expectations.

I also don't believe that spoilers actually spoil anything in most circumstances. I think people who say their experience is completely ruined by knowing the end of the story are not enjoy the story to the depths that they could be enjoying it. And I don't think anybody should be punished or yelled at or screamed at for saying it.

One person that was commenting on an article got extremely angry with everyone saying this and "how DARE they say how I should enjoy things?"

Well, for one, the guy is a literary critic who has probably spent a very large chunk of his life studying how people read and enjoy stories. So he's not just talking out his ear. But the other thing is, when you get so defensive you miss the overall point: imagine a world you could be opening up for yourself if you stop being so concerned and angry? Imagine how great things can be if you stop thinking "Oh, well, that's ruined" and just enjoy what you want to enjoy.

For example, a lot of my friends watch Once Upon a Time, which I'll be reviewing tomorrow. Because of that and my personal addiction to reading io9 all the time, I know a fair number of things that happened throughout the show. Including pretty much every single possible plot point from the episode Skin Deep.

On io9 I commented that because I tend to read the end of books/learn the ends of movies and if I think it sounds really stupid then I'd just not waste my time with it. Somebody took great offense to it, and railed against me saying that I am cheating myself of what could be the very best story I'd ever come across. First of all, if the ending is so bad I'd put it away, then there's no way that I would ever consider it the best story I'd ever come across.

But the other thing is, knowing the end brings me to things I might never experience otherwise. I was lukewarm about watching Once Upon a Time. I couldn't decide if it looked like something I cared to watch. Until my friend Cristi started talking about Skin Deep. The story she talked about was exactly up my ally and I knew that no matter what else the show was about, I'd love Rumplestiltskin. I watched the show last night, and it was by far the best episode of the show so far. I knew everything that happened in it. I knew all the plot twists, the end, everything and I still loved it. I still thought it was amazing and I was still thrilled to watch it and wanted to watch it again right afterwards.

I understand that my way of enjoying things is not the same as everybody else's. And I totally understand that if you prefer not to know, then you don't seek out spoilers. That's cool, we can all coexist. But there's a statue of limitations on spoilers, and maybe instead of saying your enjoyment is "spoiled" you can just say that it's changed. You'll get something different out of it. That can be cool too.