In a few hours from now, humanity will be divided into two distinct groups, one who watched the first episode of Season 8 of Game of Thrones and the other who did not. Spoilers will be shared facetiously and office gossips will give away to theories. Which brings us to one of the most used words in popular culture, “Spoilers”. Sharing spoilers after watching a show or movie is generally considered indecorum, yet, with our lives so much dependent on social media, it is almost inadvertent that we bump into at least a few despite our honest efforts. So how and when did the Spoiler phenomenon ‘infect’ our lives?
From Agatha Christie’s whodunnit novels to the greatest movie ever made, the 1941 mystery drama ‘Citizen Kane’, authors and directors have had to squabble with vexatious situations where the main plot twist becomes public and the intrigue around their creation diminishes. Alfred Hitchcock had to go around requesting movie goers not to reveal the twist of his masterpiece ‘Psycho’ saying ‘Please don’t give away the ending, it’s the only ending we have’. However, the word Spoiler did not appear extensively in popular culture until 1971 when a writer by the name of Doug Kenney made headlines by publishing an article titiled ‘Spoilers’ in the National Lampoon magazine to give away all the main twists from the past decades, including Citizen Kane’s ‘rosebud’, Psycho’s ‘killer mother twist’ among others. His motive was to save the public their ‘time and money’ in watching those movies.
In 1982, a lot of movie aficionados who had respect for the audience’s right to unadulterated movie going experience, started using the word ‘Spoiler Alert’ in their write-ups about the latest Star Trek movie. Even the greatest movie reviewer there ever was, Roger Ebert detailed his anger over his fellow writers who give away more than warranted information in their reviews. He believed that critics have an immense responsibility to keep the content of movies and shows under wraps and at the same time share perspective so that the readers can make informed choices and opinions.
We live in times where even a day’s delay can mean that we already know intricate details of a content piece even before we watch it. The Sixth Sense made for a mind boggling movie experience as there were not many ways of letting the universe know that Bruce Willis is in fact dead the entire time. But does a spoiler impact your entire experience? I believe it only impacts the personal surprise element. Beyond that, any art form is about execution, screenplay, characters and those are elements which keep us dumbfounded even years after we have watched it. Do I not enjoy watching The Usual Suspects knowing who is Keyser Soze? I absolutely do! It is the sequence of events leading to the reveal and the mastery of Kevin Spacey in being hidden in plain sight which gets the viewers every time.
In fact, there is a website for the notorious among us who wants to keep friendships on the edge by revealing spoilers for the latest Episode of Game of Thrones. A site called spoiled.io is charging INR 69 per user to text all the spoilers from the latest episodes to friends and enemies of the user in an obvious attempt to start a world war! You just have to share your friends (…soon to be enemies) numbers and make a payment and watch the world burn.
But if you are the responsible kind, who would much rather discuss the show than being naughty, then you should allow everyone their time to enjoy an unspoilt episode. There is no fun in spoiling, because we all know that Daenerys dies in the first episode of Season 8 itself.