06 September, 2011

When Can I Spoil It For You?

Over the past few months, every since I became more active on twitter, I became aware of  a problem that doesn't seem to have one answer and that pretty much divides the entire film community into different groups.

It really is a simple question;

When are we allowed to talk about the spoilers in a movie?

Recently there was unanimous anger towards an article by a leading film site because they had mentioned the guest appearances in the recently released X-Men First Class. Eventually, they had to correct and remove the so called "spoilers". In fact someone recently commented on a tweet I had written disclosing the ending of The Usual Suspects, saying that they were young at the time the movie was released and that if they hadn't already seen the movie a few months back I could have spoilt it for them. Now, although I could understand their point, at the time I was just irritated wondering if the person had just indirectly called me an "old" person?

So, when is the right time to openly and fearlessly talk about a movie in entirety without hiding any facts about it? I asked some of my twitter folk a few weeks back and I somewhat got mixed answers from a year to the time a movie comes out on DVD to five years. In my defense The Usual Suspects was released almost a decade back.

For me personally I think once the movie has come out on DVD and has been shown on TV and then maybe another 2-3 months after that is a safe time to talk about a film and its spoilers. I am aware this is not as easy as it sounds. A DVD or for that matter the movie might release in US much before in UK or India. Also in some cases the DVD is not released or has a limited release, what to do then?

Talking about spoilers to my “real” life friends has never bothered me. I mean yes I might have spoilt a few movies for my friends unknowingly from time to time, but then they understand and there really aren't any hard feelings. I feel that ever since I have been on twitter the people I interact with seem to have strong feelings and opinions about such issues. I'm not saying they are wrong. I know spoilers bother me aswell. I think the fact that on twitter we are all mostly "followers" who have never met; it makes it easier to get angry/irritated with someone.

This also brings up another important point. What exactly is a spoiler? For example, take "live tweeting" of a movie. A lot of people do that on twitter, but isn't just tweeting about any movie in any way spoiling it for someone who has not seen it. SPOILER WARNING (skip the next few lines if you haven't seen KILL BILL) - I remember watching Kill Bill and loving the animation part in it. Besides liking its content the fact that it was something I was not expecting was what made it all the more special. START READING - Now, the said part isn't really a spoiler, but imagine a person mentioning that in a "live tweet"? I'm sure if I had known about it in advance and was expecting it, the impact of the entire scene would have been much less.     

So, is there a right time to spoil a movie? Do you think Live Tweeting is fun or it hardly serves any purpose? I really would love to know from you, when can I really spoil a movie for you ?


  1. When it comes to spoilers I'm not against spoiling something IF it is mentioned in advance, no matter how old a movie is. Just like me you are probably exploring older movies as well which you have never seen. If you already know lots about it, it could take away from the enjoyment. Maybe this is not the case for you but personally I want to see a movie knowing as little as I can about it (so I almost never watch trailers). That way a movie can surprise me and that's a feeling I very much enjoy.

  2. Hi Nostra, To an extent I agree with your point. And to be honest if writing a review I take care of that no matter the age of the film. But, at times in a face-to-face conversation or even on twitter it poses as a problem to give out a Spoiler Warning. Now, i've stopped talking about "spoilers" altogether on twitter. I mentioned this to a few people who live tweet to not do it. Although they gave out a "Spoiler Warning in Next Tweet", it becomes difficult to actually just skip a tweet amongst so many and one might eventually end up reading it. So yeah totally get your point, but there is a part of me that also strongly believe that I want to talk about movies without worrying if i'm spoiling it for them. Thank you.

  3. It's entirely up to the person writing. If you're trying to make a point or draw an analogy about something in the film and it means spoiling it then do so! Put a warning at the start if it helps (how many academic texts on a work put a spoiler warning on though). Ultimately it's the responsibility of the person reading an article about such and such. If they expect a less rigorous review then it's their problem. If they get bitten they won't go back there and do it again... they'll hopefully learn from their error.

    Everybody should have the freedom to explore the movie universe as they see fit... whether it loses them readers or not shouldn't come into it.

  4. I like your gutsy comment and just like in any debate there are parts of it that I agree with. Your reply is also one that stands true to when one is having a verbal conversation and not just limited to writing a blog. Thanks