Monday, April 2, 2012

New Spoiler Policy (& Rant)

Maybe it's just my contrarian side slipping through, but today, somewhere between seeing someone upset about plot details from last season mentioned in an article about Game of Thrones and reading yet another tantrum about people discussing the plot of an upcoming movie based on a book that's been out for years, I snapped. This is ridiculous. It's great that the Internet and social media mean that pretty much anyone can participate in the critical conversation about TV, movies, etc., but the flip side is that everyone seems to think the conversation should cater to them. And it's just not sustainable. "Spoiler warnings" are being posted more and more, and people are complaining more and more anyway, and discourse just cannot happen if everyone who writes or tweets is expected to magically know whether anyone in their prospective audience might be watching a day or week or year behind. No. No more.

Also: We've lost the definition of "spoiler," anyway. If something has already aired, it is not a spoiler. Sure, if you're going to talk about something you've seen from a forthcoming episode, from a screener or leaked script or what-have-you, then yes, that's a spoiler! Warn people! I am completely for that! That is completely reasonable!

What I'm objecting to are the perpetual warnings about things that have already aired. So, new policy: I will not post or tweet spoilers until the West Coast airing of a show.* Since I go to bed at a reasonable hour (most of the time), for me, this effectively means the next morning. And, you know, I don't tend to tweet a lot of spoilers anyway. This will not be a huge change. It does mean that if I tweet a link to a post about a show, it may contain plot details, so, you know, don't click if you don't want to know!

And to clarify a popular objection: I am not demanding that everyone be caught up on everything. No way. I'm behind on more shows than most people watch at all. What I'm saying is that you can't be behind and participate in the conversation and make a fuss if you find out things you didn't want to know. There are three ways to avoid this: Catch up. Or take yourself out of the conversation for a while. (Don't read reviews or follow people you know will livetweet!) Or just live with the spoilers and don't complain about it. Any of those solutions work fine. (I am thoroughly spoiled on several shows on which I'm seasons behind. For me, this makes catching up much more fun. Something to consider.)

While we're at it, a short list of things that are not spoilers:
1. Plot details of books on which shows or movies are based.
2. Casting news.
3. Quotes or general impressions that do not give plot details.
4. Anything in a promo aired by the network itself.
ADDED: 5. If the book has been published, it's not a spoiler. (I try to be consistent.)
What am I missing from the list? Am I being unreasonable and contrary? Do you all hate me now? Anyone want to join me in my brave new spoiler-warning-free world?

* Note: I'm just talking about this blog and my personal Twitter account. Policy is not changing for or any other site I write for.

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