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What’s Your Rules On Spoilers?

Back when the new Great Gatsby movie was coming out, I wrote a post with a story about a friend who complained when I ruined the plot for him.

Basically, as I was talking about the movie, I mentioned that Gatsby died. My friend had never seen the movie, nor read the book, so this was all news to him. He jokingly accused me of “spoiling” the plot.

So in that old post, I asked whether or not there’s a statute of limitations on spoiler alerts. I mean, after a novel’s been out 90 years, can’t we stop dancing around spoilers?

Like, do I have to stop and pause before I tell you that Romeo and Juliet die at the end? Should I take pause before telling you things don’t go so well for Ahab in Moby Dick? Would you consider those spoilers? And, if so, I guess I’m sorry…not really, though.

So let’s revisit this topic in today’s Monday question. If you want to read the original post, here it is.

Tell me: What are your rules on spoiler alerts, and is there a statute of limitations?

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39 Comments Post a comment
  1. non

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  2. Romeo and Juliet die?! Haha – there is definitely a statute of limitations on spoilers! This is why we have these adolescent preoccupations with chewing through lists of the 100 best films and books – you don’t want to be caught out later on!

    Liked by 3 people

    March 2, 2015
  3. I was thinking this just yesterday as I posted something about The Empire Strikes Back and then realised it was a total spoiler if you’ve never seen the movie before. I don’t consider what you wrote a spoiler any more than telling someone that Hamlet dies. These facts are often more well known than the works themselves! Stay away from me though if you don’t know about Luke Skywalker’s parentage!!

    Liked by 2 people

    March 2, 2015
  4. There is a twenty one year statute on films, fifty year on books.

    If don’t know (for example) that Thelma and Louise (1992) drive over a cliff then you probably have no interest in Movies and won’t in all probability care.

    Fifty years for books is a little more generous as it coincides with copy-write laws I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  5. Jin Okubo #

    If my friend is overly anal, then no limit, and usually that person is not my friend. But if you’re my friend then for new things a month everything older than that is fair game. But spoilers never bother me I’ll read a book watch a movie on my own terms whether or not I know the ending doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 3 people

    March 2, 2015
    • Jin Okubo #

      Thank you for the likes, at first I thought I was being crass, but now I can see that there are people like me.

      Like

      March 3, 2015
  6. Jin Okubo #

    Reblogged this on Jin Okubo.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  7. Carla Wright #

    I recently did this with Orwell’s 1984 and found it pretty awkward as they hadn’t read the book, but they also hadn’t express any desire to read it previously either – so does that count as a spoiler too?

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  8. Lucille #

    If it is a new book, or a book few have read, do not spoil. But for something that has been floating around in popular culture for over 5 years or so, spoil on but with care for your audience’s sensibilities. Why do I get the feeling you ask because the review of Housekeeping approaches?.

    Liked by 2 people

    March 2, 2015
  9. New releases only. I’ll spoil anything older than five years!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  10. Rosemary Zimmermann #

    There is definitely a statute of limitations, maybe in the neighborhood of 50 years, which is enough time for something to really enter the public discourse.

    I’d say this doesn’t apply to mysteries, though. There’s no statute of limitations on murder! 😉 I think it’s very bad form to spoil even the oldest mysteries for someone without warning. “Murder on the Orient Express” is well over 50 years old at this point but it would be horrid to casually let someone know the ending.

    Everything else is fair game to discuss without worrying about spoiling it. Romeo and Juliet die. Sorrynotsorry.

    Liked by 3 people

    March 2, 2015
  11. The only spoiler you never issue is the one about Santa Claus. Maybe issue a spoiler alert if the book is brand new, but otherwise, go ahead and spoil.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  12. I like Rosemary’s comment – when it comes to books, I think it depends in part on the type of book. It is bad form to spoil a mystery, even if that mystery is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, which is now 147 years old.

    On the other hand, there are some stories that enter the pop culture to the point that everyone is expected to have some fluency with them. Anne Shirley marries Gilbert Blythe. Beth dies in Little Women. Lady MacBeth comes to a bad end.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  13. It really depends on the context, doesn’t it? Like, if you’re having a live conversation with someone, it’s always polite to ask whether they’re familiar with a story before discussing any sort of major plot twist. And if you’re writing a blog post about a story with a huge twist, it’s easy enough to include a quick sentence along the lines of, “If you haven’t read/watched this yet, read my blog post at your own risk.” But at the same time, I don’t think anyone should feel any guilt over accidentally spoiling something that’s over a decade old.

    Liked by 3 people

    March 2, 2015
  14. I think that once there’s a minutely detailed synopsis on Wikipedia you’re O.K.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  15. When the movie Titanic came back to theaters, I know a teenager who was shocked that the boat sank. I would say it’s not your fault if someone is out of the loop. Once it’s become ingrained in our culture (or if it’s a real historical event the person should have learned about before now), spoil away.

    Liked by 4 people

    March 2, 2015
    • I have students who think that film is a documentary.

      Like

      March 3, 2015
  16. I almost cried because you just told me that R&J die at the end of the play…
    Jk, I mean, if a new movie with an original screenplay comes out or a brand-new novel, and you saw it/ read it first and tell me about the plot, if I wanted to see the movie/read the novel,too..not so great.
    But srsly…you did not try to “ruin” the movie for your friend on purpose…freedom of speech, after all? (Even if he was joking, some people are definitely not 🙂 )

    It’s an important topic (or lets say: well-discussed), but I do think people shouldn’t worry about having made a mistake or something if they are in the same situation.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  17. I agree here with Rosemary. Other than a murder mystery or plain old mystery, there shouldn’t be any issue with spoilers. I knew who dies at the end of Potter 6 even before I started, thanks to my friends. But I enjoyed the book anyway.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  18. I often say ‘spoilers’ without thinking, because people are asking my opinion of books that I’ve read and asked the plot. One time, before even reading the book, I mentioned that I had heard that one of the characters died to a friend who was reading. He was furious, and accused me of ruining the book for him.
    I just kinda stared at him, because it made sense that the character would die. I also realized that I didn’t see it as a spoiler, and have done that since. My usual line is ‘don’t like a character, because they all die’ and people yell at me for saying a spoiler.
    But, I’ve realized what I consider to be a spoiler isn’t what all people do. So, I spoil things for people and actually look for spoilers when I’m looking to get into a series.
    Ultimately, I don’t have things ruined for me. it’s rare when a books plot twist actually does surprise me, so I’m rarely thrown by a spoiler that someone gives me.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  19. It’s a good question; I usually try to….wait! WHAT!? Gatsby dies?

    Liked by 2 people

    March 2, 2015
  20. Heck, I spoil books for myself all the time. Game of Thrones in particular, because I know Martin has a bad habit of killing people off suddenly. If my husband hadn’t told me the entire story of the first book after he read it on our honeymoon, I probably would have rage quit the entire series near the end (people who have read it or seen the show will know what I’m talking about, but—ironically—I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t). I also spoiled the Red Wedding for myself because I know how devastating most people found it and I just can’t stomach that sort of emotional evisceration.

    I agree that spoilers for books published…let’s say 50 years ago are fair game. Also, in my opinion, much of the point of reading classic novels is less in the plot and more in the beautiful writing, characterization, etc.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  21. I think it’s often about intent. There is a difference between someone who is genuinely just trying to share a book or movie they liked and the person who goes around spoiling just to show off how many books or movies they have digested. Oh, yes. We all know those people. “You haven’t seen ‘Worst Movie Evar’? Whaaaat? Well, it’s like this…”

    Generally speaking, I don’t mind spoilers too much, especially if the subject matter has been available for a year or more. After all, it was my problem not getting there first. Why should everyone else stifle their desire to share just because I’m lazy?

    BUT…people who spoil on social media the night of the big series finale when the rest of us are DVRing…bad, bad, bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 2, 2015
  22. I’m with you! If it’s classic literature regardless of the adaption it’s not really a spoiler. Otherwise we would be hard pressed on allusion use.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  23. There’s definitely a statue of limitations on spoilers. If you’re over 20 years old and a books been out longer than 10 years, you’re probably not going to read it, so you shouldn’t get mad if someone spoils a plot for you.

    Like

    March 2, 2015
  24. Spoiler of spoilers: Shakespeare himself tells us what is going to happen at the end of Romeo and Juliet in the Prologue:
    Two households, both alike in dignity,
    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
    From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
    Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
    A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

    Liked by 2 people

    March 2, 2015
  25. I never use them. I never thought about it until reading your blog post. Should I start. Knowing tne end of a novel never ruined my reading pleasure.

    Like

    March 3, 2015
  26. Generally, I try not to include spoilers, even for classics. But then again, when I write about a book I don’t do a plot summary as in a “traditional” book review so it’s a bit easier to avoid spoilers. I come at writing about books from a different angle. And I like to pique the reader’s interest so he/she will be motivated to read the book – I may present the conflict or central question of the book but not say how it’s resolved.

    Like

    March 3, 2015
  27. I feel if the spoiler has been common knowledge or talked about topic for over a year then you shouldn’t be too accused. My friend accuses that I spoiled Dumbledore’s fate for her in the 6th book. But in my defense the book had been out for two years, and trailers were already showing up in theaters. I don’t see how she went that long without catching news of it anyway.

    Like

    March 3, 2015
  28. Apparently I’m known for “spoiling” movies because “not everyone thinks like you or knows what you do.” Mainly this comes into play with semi-historical movies; I “ruined” Public Enemies for my wife and somehow ruined Les Miserables for my entire family.

    In my opinion, any books or events over two years old shouldn’t have “spoilers.”

    Personally, I find that spoilers actually enhance my enjoyment; already knowing how it ends means I can focus on the actual story.

    Like

    March 3, 2015
  29. Cev001 #

    I think if the book is a few years old their are no spoilers in common conversation. I suppose we could ask have you read this book before saying anything. When someone asks me this question and I say no and I don’t plan on it I often ask them to spoil the plot. But if there is little chance they are going to read it I don’t think it matters that much.

    Like

    March 3, 2015
  30. Another question is: what is a spoiler?

    Is giving away that Gatsby dies e.g., truly a spoiler? Every man dies eventually. So, in essence, the statement only reveals that Gatsby is of the human race. Which is quiet obvious to anyone, I would guess.

    Releasing that Gatsby dies still leaves a lot for the reader to discover. Does he die alone or surrounded by loved ones? Is he a happy man when he dies, or rather discontented? And so on.There is still a lot for the reader to learn.

    Considering the above as spoiler, also reduces the interest of books to the mere story they tell. Which is selling books short, in my opinion. The ideas and philosophies vented by the writer while telling his story are as interesting.

    It’s a bit like taking a journey by car. You know where you start and you, often at least, know where you’re heading for. But that doesn’t spoil the pleasure of the trip, does it?

    An interesting evolution in this respect: companies like Netflix and HBO have recently released spoilers on their own shows. The idea behind it is that knowing the end may actually attract more viewers. As people want to know how a show gets from A to B, rather than just B.

    As a more straight answer to the question: no, I feel there is no statute of limitations on spoilers. A book or movie may be around for 100 years, but for each individual person, there is always a first time to read or watch it.

    That being said. The term spoiler is maybe used too easily. As the word indicates, a spoiler should “spoil” reading a book, watching a movie, … Just knowing that Gatsby dies doesn’t really spoil the reading, does it?

    Tom

    Like

    March 4, 2015
  31. I usually just ask if they want me to tell them the whole thing or if they want a vague overview. If they want me to tell them everything I think it’s okay to spoil ANYTHING. If they want a vague overview, I tell them to go look up the synopsis. If they want my opinion I’ll either be vague or I’ll ruin it. There’s really no in between for me

    Like

    March 4, 2015
  32. If it’s Monday morning & you’re trying to tell me what happened on Walking dead last night, shut the hell up.

    If i still haven’t watched Breaking bad yet, and i overhear how it ends, too bad for me

    if i still haven’t read Gatsby yet? Just smack me

    Like

    March 5, 2015
  33. I don’t know about everyone else, but just don’t spoil things (the element of surprise) for me, or else it’s off with your head! lol! But, truly, there’s a first time for everyone 🙂

    Like

    March 7, 2015
  34. fish #

    Well, yeah.
    as far as i’m concerned, these are spoilers. the major argument against this recent spoiler paranoia is that some books and movies lose the right to keep their plots unknown, depending on whether the book or movie is old enough.well, all due respect to gatsby and his gang of literary classics, i hadn’t existed for nearly a century. books dont have an expiration date, and nor does my right to experience any literary piece the way the author had intended.
    and yet, i don’t expect every person that had ever read a book to discuss it as if he is in possession of a government secret. my major gripe is that of all the many (many) spoilers i had the misfortune to encounter, nearly all of them, if not all, were completely unnecessary. the people that gave me the most scarring spoilers did it for no reason, just to make sure others knew they read a certain book.
    it takes approximately two seconds to say “ah, spoiler alert”, and then you can talk about anything as freely as you wish.

    Like

    March 8, 2015
  35. Dear you spoiled my book

    Like

    March 10, 2015
  36. loveysliterature123 #

    I honestly really don’t care about spoilers; it’s about how something is written not so much what happens. Also, I hate to be that guy, but it’s “what are” not “what is” you rules.

    Like

    March 12, 2015

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