Spoiler Alert!

I don’t believe that you have to give up television to be a good writer. I love television. I love entertainment in any form, really. To be honest, some of the greatest modern day stories come from the minds of TV scribes. Imagine being given an hour once a week for six straight months to slowly unfold your story. As a writer, my mind races when thinking about the possibilities.

As with any well-crafted story, its secrets must be protected so that the big “ta da!” moments do not lose their impact. This wasn’t really an issue during life before the Internet, but now days it’s nearly impossible to hide from them. Divulging the carefully guarded twists and turns of a story has become a favorite past time among a frighteningly large chunk of the population. So much so, in fact, that scripts and unedited footage are stolen all the time and posted on the Internet for others to find.

Why is that?

What is the obsession with knowing the big finish without experiencing the journey to get there?

What is the motivation that drives the people to comb the Internet in search of spoilers?

To cut down on our monthly bills, my fiancée and I made the decision about a year ago to live without cable television. It was a tough decision, but a low-cost Netflix solution has eased most of the pain. Unfortunately, a lot of good television shows got left behind, and won’t become available through Netflix for an exorbitant amount of time.

We want to be watching The River or Game of Thrones along with everyone else, but can’t. We’re patient enough to wait for DVD, but the challenge we face is that of our friends and family that don’t seem to want to let us wait. People can’t seem to tell us about the shows they love without leading off with the biggest plot twists first.

Here’s an example:

FRIEND: Hey, did you catch that new episode of The Walking Dead last night?

ME: Nope. We don’t have cable right now, so we have to wait until it’s on video.

FRIEND: Oh, lame. Well, anyway, I hope you didn’t get too attached to ________ from the first season because the zombies just killed her.

Here’s another example:

FRIEND: You watch Chuck, right?

ME: Yes, but I’m only through season three. I have to wait until season four is out on video.

FRIEND: Didn’t you meet Joshua Gomez once?

ME: Yeah. He’s a really nice guy. Very humble and happy to chat with fans.

FRIEND: That’s awesome. Did you ask him if he likes using the Intersect?

ME: Huh?

FRIEND: Oh, you’ll get there. Morgan gets the Intersect at the end of season four.

Sigh…

If avoiding potentially spoiler-filled conversations with friends was the key to our dilemma, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but the whole practice has become a staple of pop culture. I can’t even read Entertainment Weekly anymore, one of my favorite magazines, because each issue offers up spoilers before I’ve even flipped past the table of contents.

I don’t expect people not to talk about television shows simply because I don’t have the means to watch them, but I wonder how difficult it would be for us to revert back to a simpler time: A time when people didn’t feel the competitive need to race onto the Internet and be the first person to spill all the secrets. It wouldn’t take that much. Would it?

I dream of a day when a conversation can be carried out more like this:

FRIEND: Hey, did you catch that new episode of The Walking Dead last night?

ME: Nope. We don’t have cable right now, so we have to wait until it’s on video.

FRIEND: Oh, lame. Well, anyway, I am loving the second season so far. They have made some bold decisions that have really upped the ante. It may be a little early to be saying this, but I think this season could even be better than the first. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

My moral to the story is simple: Take pity on a fella a little down on his luck and in need of conserving his cash. I think it’s great that you enjoy the stories that you do, and I want to enjoy them too. Think about how you felt when you first experienced that one big death, or love gone bad, or secret agent’s true identity. Now imagine how you’d have felt if someone had taken that moment away from you.

In summary, don’t skip to the last page. Don’t deprive someone else of their enjoyment… or karma will find you. It’ll be waiting for you at the corner of [SPOILER ALERT].

2 comments

  1. I am so with you on this. Spoilers everywhere I look makes me feel crazy. And sometimes they pop out of the most unexpected places. I’ll be reading a forum completely unrelated to tv and someone will start a thread that goes something like: ‘Hey guys, I know this isn’t related, but I just cannot believe that ____ killed off _____!!!!’ I close my eyes, I turn away, but the damage is done. Sometimes I go play bejeweled, hoping a few minutes in zombie land will cause me to forget what annoyed me in the first place. Thus goes my love/hate relationship with the interwebs.

    1. That sounds identical to the experiences I have had. You’re so right about how you can try to look away and pretend you didn’t see it, but it always manages to sneak inside your brain. The interwebs are a harsh mistress. 🙂

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