One thing I enjoy doing very much is reviewing the books I read and the movies I watch. I’ve spent many, very happy conversations discussing all types of media with other people because I like hearing what their opinions are. Often their views might be different than mine and by hearing their opinions I may gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for whatever it is we’re talking about.
That being said, there are some people who are rather sensitive when it comes to discussing books and movies for the dreaded spoiler.
Now, I get the threat of spoilers, I really do, especially when a particular twist is integral to the plot of a story or movie. Can you imagine being told who Keyser Söze was before watching The Usual Suspects? Whether you liked the movie or not, I actually saw someone, a huge movie buff, have the ending of Sixth Sense ruined for them (unsurprisingly, they weren’t happy afterward). People want to experience something for themselves for the first time in their own way and I can understand that, really.
However, I do think there should be limits put in place so that conversations, full conversations without dancing around details, can happen. I mean, I once had someone complain that they had the end of a movie, one that had been out for a decade, ruined for them. Really, if the ending of said movie was that important, why wouldn’t they have seen it in the ten years it was available to them?
Simply stating a detail about a book or movie is not necessarily a spoiler. I consider a spoiler to be some detail about a movie or book that is integral to the plot itself, such as a character who shows up unexpectedly or twist that comes as a surprise, where the revealing of the detail could potentially ruin the story. For instance, that there is a hobbit named Frodo in Lord of the Rings and that he is carrying a Ring of Power is not a spoiler; that it is actually Gollum who, ultimately, is responsible for the ring’s destruction could be a spoiler. Saying the name of a character appearing in a book is not necessarily a spoiler because I could say that Ned Stark was in A Dance with Dragons, which he is (sort of, at least by being mentioned by other people) but it doesn’t give away any of the plot.
So, anyway, here’s my policy: If a movie is still in the theaters, or a book is within the first six months of having been released, I’ll keep any and all spoilers (or what I consider to be a spoiler anyway) either under a cut or give you enough time to look away. Plot details which can be readily found in trailers or in book blurbs on the back cover or inside the jacket are not spoilers. However, if the movie is no longer in theaters or the book is greater than six months old, all you’re going to get is a warning to look at this here policy at the beginning of the review.
“But, Matt, what if someone else has a different definition of what a spoiler is?”
Bully for them? My blog, my definitions.
“But, Matt, movies still in the theaters or six months after a book’s release isn’t a lot of time. I mean, people have lives, may not be able to see a movie while it’s still in the theater or finish a book in that amount of time.”
Maybe not but since the definition of spoiler is fairly arbitrary, so is my timing scheme. If someone is very, very deadset on not having a movie or story ruined for them, then maybe they shouldn’t be reading reviews at all? It’s not like I’ve got a gun to their head and screaming, “YOU WILL READ MY REVIEW EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE SOOPAH SEEKRIT ENDING FOR THE MOVIE YOU LIKE!”