Today’s post is going to be a little shorter than most, primarily because I am, well, not writing this from home. Take from that what you will.
I write this because last night, while perusing Facebook, the page for CBS’s How I Met Your Mother posted an image of a certain someone [seen on the right]. The caption for the image was as follows:
A secret 8 years in the making! You just met… wait for it… the mother! Like this post if you were surprised!
But here’s the thing, I hadn’t seen the episode. I was busy talking about short stories with my writing group, which was swiftly followed up by reviewing the season finale of the other CBS sitcom. As the description of the image reads, this was a reveal “8 years in the making.” I may not have started the year the show came out, but I have seen every episode. That’s 183 episodes; that comes out to something like 3660 minutes, or 61 hours, or 2.5 full days of television.
All of my hours of watching and waiting boiled down to the HIMYM Facebook page revealing the mother’s face online. And I wasn’t the first one upset about it, either.
Raffe and Josh were none too thrilled by the reveal, and they had thousands of other fans agreeing with them. The whole premise of How I Met Your Mother revolves around viewers waiting to finally get a glimpse of her face, and that moment was robbed for a lot of people.
Spoilers are nothing new, of course.
While you all know my opinion of DC comics and how they’ve been running things, what you may not know is how terrible they have been about spoilers. Back in February they okayed an article by The New York Post titled “DC killing off Batman’s ‘Boy Wonder’ Damian Wayne in new comic book.” This was published a day before the comic in question came out in stores. What spiraled out of that was prospectors buying up every issue they could get their hands on in hopes that the issue would one day increase in value, adding insult to injury to the tens of thousands who, having had the ending spoiled, would now be unable to read the comic as well.
Even more recently they spoiled their own big Green Lantern crossover event by featuring an epilogue in a comic in spite of the fact that it wasn’t to end for another two weeks. On the Marvel side of things, the publisher announced that Angela, a character from the Todd McFarlane’s Spawn universe, would be featured in the Age of Ultron event before it had even begun.
It’s not just companies shooting themselves in the foot, though. io9 has a feature called Morning Spoilers, and Bleeding Cool has broken more than its fair share of comic book-related news stories.
To get out into the real world, away from the internet, I present this video [the comments section is rife with spoilers to other books, movies, etc.]:
This guy has literally nothing better to do but sneak up to people standing outside of a Barnes and Noble ruin the big reveal for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’s the reason that when my cousin bought the 7th book he holed himself up in his room, away from the internet and everything else, and read it cover to cover.
I write this Shame Day against anyone, and this includes the creators of the media in question, who feels the need to spoil an ending, or any aspect, of any sort of work. This doesn’t even have to be a twist, it can just as easily be done through an incessant amount of special extended previews, à la The Avengers.
Even knowing that there will be a twist in a movie spoils it, and I must disagree with the assessment that blogger John Seavey makes [spoilers for Saw within] when he says “I have always been greatly of the opinion that if your twist is any good, you’d enjoy the story even if you knew it, and if it’s not, then hiding it won’t make it any better.” Knowing that there’s a twist means that you’re constantly looking out for it, an activity best reserved for one’s second viewing/reading.
I have never ever seen an M. Night Shyamalan movie without knowing what the big twist was, and that includes such films as The Sixth Sense, The Village, and The Happening. Knowing does not make watching any more enjoyable, though at least one of the aforementioned flicks was not very great to begin with.
It is not a secret to me that there are people who love finding out spoilers, and that this somehow is enjoyable to them and affects their full viewing or reading of the final product not at all. I am not one of them. Through writing this article alone I became privy to a pretty significant upcoming event in Game of Thrones, and I am none too pleased. That’s simply the state of the internet nowadays, and it is upsetting.
I am unhappy that I saw what the mother was going to look like via Facebook. I am equally sorry that I have let my curiosity get away from me in the past when it came to wanting to find out too much, too early. Normally Shame Days take a tone of admonishment, but this is more a plea than anything else. Please don’t spoil things, anyone. Don’t do it. Be considerate.
You should really expand on this, maybe discussing when certain things can be talked about publicly rather than complaining that they ARE talked about publicly.
I had the mother spoiled for me, but I couldn’t have cared less. But I’m in a different place than you: I gave up on the show halfway through this season (after faithfully watching every episode up to that point). I watched the final two episodes ONLY because I saw that they finally revealed the mother, and I figured that’d be worth watching. I also had The Happening spoiled (but I sincerely believe that this movie would be awful no matter what), and I would argue that The Village wasn’t meant to have a “twist” and that’s it’s an okay movie even if/when you know the “twists”.
I don’t watch any TV shows live, but they do have time slots. How long after a time slot, release date, etc. is it appropriate to discuss these sorts of things? I’m not saying you’re wrong to complain about spoilers. I just want to hear more discussion. For example, if it’s NEVER okay to discuss a spoiler because it’s a “twist” in a movie, doesn’t that reveal that the movie might be too dependent on that one moment?
I didn’t care about the “Mother of all reveals” but I will be on my guard after Netflix releases the new Arrested Development (where 13 episodes have the same exact release date/time) against spoilers, because I don’t want to watch all the episodes when they’re released at midnight like some people will.
Evan and Gordon Talk: When should spoilers no longer be considered as such?
props for writing this, man. I share your hatred of spoilers, and I think that people should be more considerate when posting things on Facebook and websites and even in casual conversation. Kaylee is a huge Survivor fan, but we have no TV, so CBS.com is her go-to to watch each season, but when the final episode comes along, what picture do they use for the link to the final episode? one that shows exactly who won, which sucks for her because that’s no way to find out. I literally had to walk out of rooms and cover my ears for YEARS before I read the Harry Potter books because everyone assumed that everyone had read them, but for some sub-cultures that were not allowed to read them as a child, it was very difficult to have the same experience because of all the assumed knowledge that floated around in the air whenever Harry Potter was mentioned. The same thing happened to me with Downton Abbey. I was literally informed of every major plot point before I saw it thanks to Facebook. For people who don’t have TV or just happened to not watch it that night, it isn’t pleasant to have everything spolied, like Thursday I am not going to be able to watch the series finale of The Office until Friday so I am just not going to go on Facebook at all that day because I know it will be plastered all up in here. I think it is the considerate thing to do to assume that the person you are talking to hasn’t seen it because I agree with you that knowing the twist or knowing it is even there really matters, and people who say that it shouldn’t don’t really understand the narrative device. A twist relies on the viewer or reader’s sense of surprise to disrupt the previous schema of the narrative and either change the perspective or break the reader or viewer’s expectations, so yes it absolutely is better when you don’t know it’s there because you’re looking for it and that ruins it because the very nature of a twist is unexpected. Thanks for this, Evan. I like this blog.
Not going to lie, I went and read all the game of throne book synopsis I could find on wikipedia after watching the red wedding episode.