Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Spoiler Alerts?
The other day, while casually talking about The Great Gatsby movie at work, I mentioned a key fact about the ending–Gatsby’s ultimate fate, so to speak.
I didn’t think much of it. The book is 90 years old. I honestly thought everyone in the western world kind of, sort of, knew that story.
Like, if I was talking about the David and Goliath story and I said, “Then David slings a rock at the giant Goliath and kills him,” I don’t feel like I would be ruining that story for anyone. We all know David kills Goliath, right?
So I mistakenly thought Gatsby was along the same lines of familiarity for most people. And I was wrong. That’ll teach me for equating biblical literature with Fitzgerald.
Upon breaking the 90-year-old news about Gatsby’s fate, I was immediately scorned by two co-workers for ruining the story. On one hand, I wanted to apologize. But, on the other hand, I was thinking, I’m seriously getting criticized for mentioning spoilers to a nearly century-old classic novel that, at least I thought, every ninth grade English teacher in the history of America has assigned as homework?
Can we, as avid readers, be expected to withhold “spoilers” from classic literature? In discussing lit with friends, can we mention the fact that Romeo and Juliet die? That Ebenezer Scrooge gets all happy?
It’s a worthy question, I believe. God forbid we ruin a dinner party by breaking the news that Scarlett and Rhett isn’t a happy love story.
So what’s your guideline on spoilers?
At what point does a novel reach a statute of limitations on spoiler alerts–where if someone hasn’t read it after a certain period of time (like 90 years), then all bets are off?