Aug 10, 2015

Those Gosh Darn Spoilers

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Welcome to a discussion post that may be long, ranty, and filled with profanity, because I am a French, dirty-mouthed sailor and the topic of this discussion induces such words.

Spoilers. (There's an invisible fucking in front of that word, always.) This is a post I've wanted to write for, well, MONTHS, and now seems like the perfect time to do it since a very big, highly anticipated book has a release date that's just around the corner.

And three weeks away from said release date, something about it has already been spoiled. (And Twitter and readers have commenced the ragey, pissed off, hurt Freaking Out stage, as they rightfully should.)

So, spoilers. (Remember, there's always an invisible fucking in front.) Spoilers are a subjective thing. What one considers a spoiler, others might not. Some people might find one spoiler minor while others find it major. It all depends on the person.

That said, when it comes to spoilers--and if we're being honest, talking about books in general (though this could refer to spoilers for anything, I'm going to be talking about books for this post)--please keep in mind the two Cs: Common Sense and Consideration.

For common sense, it's really just about using your head and thinking. Remember when the release day for Allegiant was almost here and then someone who got a copy early posted a gigantic spoiler on Tumblr and a whole lot of people saw? Common sense--or your own Jiminy Cricket, perhaps--should be telling you that that, like creating a theme park filled with real-life dinosaurs, is a very bad idea. I think the number one thing that could be spoiled is a character dying. That's the biggest, and one that I think we can all agree on is something that just shouldn't be mentioned. Which leads to consideration.

Please take into consideration what exactly it is that you're doing when you post a spoiler, intentionally or not (hence where common sense makes a return--thinking about what you're saying or posting before you do). I'm going to use The Lion King as an example, because I think that's something we've all seen and we know how it goes. Say you post an update on Goodmovies and you're 33% through The Lion King, and you say, "I can't BELIEVE that just happened to Mufasa!" Where do you think people's minds go? "Oh, Mufasa go a bad haircut?" "He ate ZaZu?" "He sang 'The Circle of Life'?" No. Your mind automatically goes to a bad place, and you assume the worst. Using your imagination isn't very hard, especially when you're trying to think of all the bad things that can happen to the characters you love and in the book you've been waiting forever for (forever is a real thing that exists in the waiting-for-books world). And so, when you finally get that book, your reading experience is RUINED because you're in the wrong head game and you can only think of what's going to happen at 33%, or when some vaguely spoiled bad thing is going to happen, and until it does, the rest of the book isn't absorbed and it's just in the wrong headzone and the book is kind of ruined.

As a writing major, I've taken a few classes and learned a few things--and my gosh, no, I do not know everything. But one thing that was discussed about writing was creating tension and suspense. (Or something like that. I don't have the book anymore.) Now, think about it. Say someone said that, in X book, so-and-so FINALLY KISSED on page 293. So when you're reading X book, and you're on page 93, and you think so-and-so are going to kiss, you know that they're really not, and you also know that any interactions between so-and-so up until page 293 will involve zero kissing. Now, if you never knew that so-and-so FINALLY KISSED on page 293, then you couldn't have possibly known that, when you're rooting for kissing on page 93, someone's going to walk into the room and interrupt the almost-kiss on page 94. You're going YES YES KISS PLEASEEE and then you're going AWWWWWWWW DANG IT, but that's the point: you're supposed to feel those emotions, the author wrote the book to create them. So when you know that the kissing isn't going to happen until page 293, you feel sheer disappointment and total impatience as you wait 292 pages for some kissing. There's a difference between knowing it's going to happen and not knowing.

The fantastic thing about reading is that we know nothing. Sure, you may have read the synopsis and have a general idea of what a book's about. (I'll read a synopsis and add a book on Goodreads, but when I actually read the book I don't reread the synopsis, because I don't want to know if the guy the girl meets on page 8 is the love interest or the bad guy, etc., etc.) But when you go into a book, you know nothing. You don't know the beginning, middle, or end. You don't know if it's going to make you cry or swoon or want to throw it across the room and possibly burn it. And that's the whole point. Reading is an adventure, an experience. When you go on a hike, you don't know if you're going to come across a fallen tree or a hungry bear--and that's part of the adventure. If someone tells you to watch out for the fallen tree at the fourth mile marker, you're spending four miles waiting for the tree and not paying attention to what's around you--your focus says tree tree tree--and you have an idea of what's on your adventure, when it's supposed to be a surprise, and it doesn't matter if the surprise is good or bad. And so, when you go into a book, you're not supposed to know what happens on page 293 or 33% of the way in, who kisses who and when, when a certain character makes their first appearance since the previous book, who dies, if the love interests get separated (even if that happens in like every series), when the love interests are reunited, major plot points, and so on. When you play Clue, the entire game is spent trying to figure out who committed the murder and with what weapon and in what room. If someone shouts "GREEN DID IT!" then the game isn't as fun because you already know part of the outcome. You're supposed to figure it out along the way and do it yourself. You're supposed to feel the feelings--the relief when your player has been cleared, the panic when he/she hasn't--on your own, not have someone tell you what they are and when you're going to feel them.

I 500,100,639% understand needing to share your excitement about a book, or needing to king-of-the-world shout at the top of your lungs about some THING that happened in the book you're reading and let all that uncontrollable adrenaline out. When I read Ignite Me, and got it a few days early, something happened, and I updated my status on Goodreads with my emotions/reaction, and though it wasn't specific, the idea was there. I unintentionally spoiled the book. I could've posted the same thing and not said what page I was on, but it'd still be a spoiler because now someone has that emotion in their head and they probably have a general idea of what might happen in the book. Maybe there's a third C--Control. Sometimes you have to refrain yourself from freaking out about a book or something specific happening in a book, because you're going to ruin it for others, and yeah, they'll freak out, too--but not in the right way. Find a buddy or a group you can discuss it with instead, but discuss it in private where others won't see all your spoilery conversations.

Which brings me to a little Goodreads sidenote. I'm sure I could edit what I do and do not see on my feed, but here's the deal: Goodreads shows, like, everything. I see conversations my friends have in groups, when they comment on someone else's review, when they like a quote from a book, and so on--and my gosh, do those contain SPOILERS. I've seen quotes from books--and really, quotes can be scenes and all that--and I want to like them but I don't because I know someone might see them and I want them to see them in the book first. And when people post a review that says THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS and then the second line has a spoiler, that doesn't help. You know when someone tells you not to look but you do anyway because you can't NOT? I might be scrolling through Goodreads and I'll see something I shouldn't see and I'll try to look away but you still can't help but see SOMETHING and, welp, hello, spoiler. I don't know if people just don't realize how much of what you do on Goodreads is stalkerly seen by the people who are friends with you? And all it takes is one word--one emotion--and a book is spoiled. The end.

I know what you might be thinking: "Rachel, are you DONE yet?" But that's the thing: spoilers never, ever end. The east coast will always spoil shows for the west coast, someone will always get the need to just scream about that part in that one book, and so on and so forth. But can't we try? Can't we try to think before we speak or post, to think about what we're about to say might do for readers who haven't read the book? When I write a review, even if I think something might be the littlest spoiler, I mark it so someone can skip over it if they want to. I think part of the reason I've gotten so bad at reading reviews is that I'm afraid I'll see one little spoiler, one little hint at something that, minor as it may be, may happen in a book. I recently read a book and am wondering how I can review it, because there's this giant plot point that the book kind of centers around, and I don't want to spoil it because then that's going to ruin the book and the whole figuring-out-what-the-hell's-going-on experience for the reader. (And I'm worrying about what people will say about the book once it's published.)

Is there ever a time for spoilers? I'm going to say no. I don't care if the book was published three months ago or three years ago or thirty years ago or three hundred years ago. We're all readers, right? We all know how this thing goes: neverending TBRs, taking weeks to get the latest book by your favorite author or in a favorite series read, always being behind on reading, having new books to read when you still have to read the old books, needing time to go on forever, etc. And let's not forget that there are always new readers, people who are new to the world or new to the game and who haven't had a chance to experience those books published three whatever agos yet, and they're not going to want to read any of them if they know what's going to happen. I mean, we don't all have time to get all the classics read by the time we're ten, but just because we haven't read a book published in the Stone Age yet doesn't mean you can or should say what happens. And not everyone has had a chance to read or watch Harry Potter, and they don't know who dies or who lives or how it all ends, and I know a lot of people cherish the Harry Potter experience, and you wouldn't want to take that away from someone, would you?

Also, let's talk about Gone Girl. I was very, very good about not being spoiled for what specifically happens in that book, and I refused to watch the movie until I read the book because then I'd pretty much know what would happen in the movie. ANYWAY. My mom had the Today show on with Hoda and Kathie, and there was a person on the show who was in the movie, and they said what role that person was playing. I FLIPPED OUT, because I wasn't far enough into the book to have met that character yet, and knowing who they were was a huge spoiler for the book and completely changed what I thought about another character and an important aspect of the story. Also, there's this book. Or this series. And in it, something about a character changes between one book and another. And people openly talk about it. And I hesitate with that, because not everyone's read the series yet or is caught up--again, time, people--and talking about that gives away what's a pretty big part of the series, and it's still a newer series, and, well...spoilers are subjective.

Another subjective thing: ships. I never want to know how the romance will end or who will end up with who, because then I'm reading a book(s) and knowing who to root for or who to hate or who to be bummed out about because I like them better than the impending winner. But there's also a difference between saying ROMEO ENDS UP WITH JULIET (if he does, who knows) and saying Team Romeo versus Team Whoever. And the latter is difficult, because we--I--love to be passionate about our ships. And I've gone into series knowing who the talk is all about, and I tend to immediately be all THAT'S THE SHIP as soon as the other half shows up, and if someone else shows up I'm like "Yeah, this ain't gonna work." This is where spoilers get hard and subjective, because this is something we all talk about when it comes to books, and it helps generate excitement, and while it's not a specific spoiler or anything, it's still an...idea?

I'm going to assume that if you're reading a book and feeling strong emotions toward it, that you really care about it (or maybe vehemently hate it). And I'm really going to assume that if you're reading a book that's a part of a (maybe popular, but that's not always the case) series, that you definitely care about the book, and you want everyone to love it and buy it and support the author so he or she can write more books for us to care about and the earth can go round and round and never end. So if you care about a book, why in the fucking hell would you want to ruin it for others? How would you like it if someone told you that in The Apple Tree, sequel to the ever popular The Apple Farmer, beloved by all, while the majority of the novel is about how prosperous the apple tree is for the apple farmer and how it saves his land and feeds his family and keeps them alive, in the end, lightning strikes the apple tree and the apple farmer loses everything and he and his family all starve to death and nobody lives happily ever after, the end? (I kid you not, I just pulled that story out of my ass.) Do you want to read the The Apple Tree now? Do you want to read the sequel you've been highly been anticipating for over a year and freaking out with your friends over, even though you know it's going to be a happy, mostly cheery story that will eventually end in SO MUCH PAIN? Even if someone simply told you that the ending was just so SAD. Do you? Maybe you still do, because you love the series and you want to support the author, and this author, who wrote the book for his or her readers (and who obviously enjoys the pain of their readers), wants his or her readers to read it and see how it ends for all the apple shit. But it's not the same. And you know it.

Spoilers are wild, vicious, unpredictable creatures. There's a difference between seeking out spoilers for yourself--which is totally fine--and blatantly posting them for others to see. Spoilers are hurtful. They hurt books. They hurt authors. They hurt readers--readers, the fuel that keeps them going and are the reason why books exist on shelves and for us to read in the first place. Spoilers are delicate things, and they also really fucking suck. They take away from the reading experience and, ultimately, the book. Hype is a monster in itself that can't really be tamed and controlled. But we can try to tame spoilers--we can--if we think before we post, speak, or type, and if we are courteous to others when talking about a book.

Spoil the spoilers, and send them off to rot. Don't spoil to get a reaction out of people; let them react themselves when they read the book--no one asked for the book to be read to them word by word, emotions and reactions included. I know spoilers can happen on accident--I've done it myself!--but think. Just think. We're all in this together, bound at the center crease of the page. Let's keep it that way; nobody likes reading a book and finding a page torn out halfway through. (Been there, done that, don't want it to ever happen again.) And if you do intentionally spoil...well, voodoo dolls exist, and maybe there's a reason bad things are happening to you. And also: dishonor on your cow.

I have no idea if this longass, big, jumbling, rant of a post makes any sense whatsover, or even if it even gets the point across (the point not being that I'm slightly insane), but, in short, just remember this: Spoilers (don't forget the fucking) fucking suck. And that's the way the cookie crumbles. (But we all prefer our cookies whole and in one piece, don't we?)

What are your thoughts on spoilers?


  1. well shit that is long O_O
    *i'll be back to comment for real in a bit haha*

  2. You seem to have some spam...

    I feel the same way. My coworkers and I were all reading A Song of Ice and Fire, only they finished it way before me. And they could not SHUT UP about the ending. I immediately didn't want to finish reading the fifth book. I stopped on page 165 of like ~1000 because just no. And I stopped watching the show. And Harry Potter? Don't even get me started. When the sixth book came out all my friends spoiled the ending. I hadn't read them yet. FUCK YOU FRIENDS! I WANTED TO READ IT MYSELF.

    I try to be really respectful, and if I have to spoil something in a review or discussion I always alert it with a big bold SPOILER so you can skip if you haven't read it. Seriously, great post. Sorry for the equally ranty comment.

    Christina @ Books & Prejudice

  3. I give two thumbs up to your exposition! I also detest spoilers. I don't like that I'm kinda "punishing" myself, but I'll stay off of Goodreads and Tumblr in the weeks leading up to the release of much-anticipated releases.

  4. Oh my goodness, YESSSS! Yes to the fucking spoilers fucking sucking, because MAN, I am pissed. I couldn't even hit the "mute" button on Twitter fast enough before some asshat threw out all kinds of spoilers- and here's a good one: when I tweeted that maybe the people who are MAD about the spoilers should stop RE-posting them, someone asked me to take MY tweet down! The hell!? No! (Sorry, mini rage!)

    I am so in love with one of the points you made because no one seems to understand this: if you say the ending is "sad", YOU HAVE SPOILED THE BOOK. If I am reading say, a book where Joe and Bonnie and in love and Joe has I don't know, dysentery, and you tell me that the ending was awful and sad, well um, I am not stupid, and I now know that Joe died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail or whatever. Because I know the context, and again, I am not a moron.

    This is why if I ever I DO feel like I should say something, even vague, about an ending I put it under a spoiler tag. Because some people do NOT want to know (myself included) even the vaguest thing about an ending.

    And YES to the Goodreads thing- sometimes I am just looking for info for a post, and I go to a book's page and BAM, spoiler, in my face. Same with Amazon!

    Why can't people just shut UP!? Especially the media- they're the worst! I mean, look at what happened with Grey's Anatomy- Twitter spoiled the whole damn season by putting it as TRENDING the minute it ended on the east coast! Same with that article about GoT! STOP IT everyone!

    I am still mad about Allegiant too.

    This post was fabulous. Now if we could just make spoiling a crime... ;)
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight



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