Spoilers - you either love them and seek them out with a passion or you scream and flee at the mere mention of them. Be they for books, movies or television shows people have either a love them or loath them attitude. I've been thinking about spoilers a lot lately. In particular I've been wonder this - is there a statue of limitations on spoilers? And isn't it mostly our own job to avoid them?
Perhaps one of the downfalls of living in a global world is that there isn't really always a lot of surprise. Take sweeps or season finales on television for example, or perhaps just a normal night of Must See TV. It never fails that at least one place on the internet I'll see someone on the west coast decry the east coasters that liveblog/twitter/whatever their reactions to what they are seeing. Personally I just accept that as a matter of course. If I don't want to know what's going on I simply put on my internet blinders (despite the fact that I live on the east coast many of my friends and my family live on Newfoundland and Atlantic time so they still get stuff before me).
But what about books, particularly those big summer book releases? It's been two years since the final Harry Potter book was published. I set my alarm so that I could get up at midnight to buy it and then stay up late and read it. In actuality I went and bought it, read two chapters and then promptly fell asleep. When I got up the next morning I studiously avoided everything on the internet except my email. My email was safe as no one who emails me was likely to have finished it before I would. After I checked my email I ran out to a local bakery, where again I was pretty sure I'd be safe as it was 8am on a Saturday morning and the book had not yet been released in French (I was living in Montreal at the time). I did see a couple of people there reading it, but no one was very far. Once I got home I settled in with my pastries and coffee and read until I was finished. Then it was safe to go on the internet again. When I finished I purposefully wrote posts here on BlogHer.com and on my personal blog that did not contain spoilers and asked readers to do the same. I've never gone back and discussed what happened in the books. It's been two years since then. If I were to write an in-depth post about what did and did not happen, would I be spoiling things? If I were to say here, "Bob Smith died" would I be spoiling something? (Note: to my knowledge there is no character named Bob Smith in the Harry Potter series).
What about Twilight? The final book in the series came out last summer. Contributing Editor Nordette recently wrote a post here called Twilight And The Return of Courtly Love. In that post she revealed some things that happened in the final book. After a member pointed this out Nordette amended the title to contain "potential spoiler." A year after publication would you have thought to do this?
Dan Brown's much anticipated The Lost Symbol is being released this fall. Since I'm on a list of survey participants for one of Canada's largest bookstore chains I know that they are considering holding a midnight party for it. I'm fully expecting spoiler alerts and spoiler watches from everyone when it comes out.
In one sense I was lucky I hadn't already been spoiled when I sat down to read that final Harry Potter since The New York Times had so notoriously spoiled it for many people when they managed to get their hands on a copy early and reviewed it with major spoilers prior to the release. In my opinion, it was just plain mean. I purchased the final book in the Twilight series because I was trying to avoid spoilers. And well, I won't be reading Dan Brown's newest but I know my best friend is going to be running around with her fingers stuck in her ears telling everyone not to tell her what happens, while simultaneously trying to find out from me what I've heard about it. (Don't worry, I won't tell her anything.) Likewise when Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire comes out it will be awhile before my library has it (and there are advance copies already out there) so I'll be running around with my fingers in my ears too. At I will be when I don't stop to ask people, "Was it good? Don't tell me what happened, but was it good?"
But what I find perhaps perplexing about myself is this - while I LOATHE book spoilers I rather love television ones. I'll even seek them out or order my friends to tell me what happened if I missed an episode. Or I'll just go read the Television Without Pity forums. Sometimes I'll even go and read spoiler websites. It doesn't really make any sense to me. The best I can figure it is that books for me are an experience, and when I experience them for the first time I really want to do it without knowing what's going to happen. That's what has me rushing through the final chapters of many books because I must know what happens immediately, and then I end up and going back and rereading the final chapters a time or two (well, only if it's a particularly good book). When it comes to television I'm a pretty fickle viewer. I rebel against having to schedule my downtime (I know, I know, Tivo, PVR, etc, - meh). So when I'm looking up spoilers I'm actually looking for reason to watch the show.
Robin at Romancing the Blog likes to be spoiled.
I don’t remember the last time I made it through a book without skipping ahead. Sometimes it’s a peek at the ending, but often it’s a leafing back and further, an impatience with what’s going on now and a need to have my curiosity satisfied or my questions answered right now. So is it any surprise that I have no problem with spoilers in book reviews?
On the other side of the fence, Literary Feline does not like spoilers, but she once asked to be with amusing results.
The only time I am okay with hearing or reading a book spoiler is when I ask for it. And in this instance, I truly wanted to know what the outcome would be. I put forth the question to two of my online reading groups:
I was wondering if anyone here has read Homer's Odyssey and would be willing to e-mail me and spoil the ending?
I went on to explain that I was considering reading it, but that there are certain types of animal-focused books I would rather not read, particularly if the animal dies in the end.
If you want to avoid spoilers Helen Thornber says stay away from Twitter.
But despite my aversion to spoilers I don’t think you can blame people for tweeting them. If you want to remain in ignorance then the question is what do you want to do more? To tweet? or to have some Twitter free time and be surprised? It is just another method in a long line of media allowing people to comment and chat about what is happening on TV and in movies as they hit our screens.
So what about you, do you like to be spoiled?
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