We go to movies in great part for an emotional experience: to be surprised, shocked, elated, laugh, cry, mad (at bad characters, actions, situations), happy (at the same thing). The more we know about the movie’s plot, twists and conflict resolutions without any warning whatsoever, our ability to be as entertained is negatively impacted.
It might sound obvious (and if it does, you’re doing it right), but spoilers aren’t necessarily limited to things that are new information, especially in a world where mediums are constantly crossing over. Spoilers are anything that ruin the experience of seeing a show or movie and makes watching it less fun.
For those on the spoiling side — people like us with websites, blogs that write and share reviews, social media, etc — there are a few fairly basic guidelines we can follow to be better about not spoiling for others:
What IS a Spoiler?
- Movie endings being revealed. Don’t tell people how movies end. Please, no. For those familiar with the TV Show The Twilight Zone, “It’s a cookbook!” is a perfect example of a devastating twist ending spoiler.
- Cameos of characters we weren’t expecting to appear being revealed (if they are listed in the cast of characters, that’s not a spoiler, telling us exactly when and where the cameo appears in the movie is a spoiler). EXAMPLE. Ready Player One is a great movie for all kinds of nerdy video game and pop culture stuff inserted all throughout the movie. Giving us a few examples of things appearing somewhere in that movie is not a spoiler, telling us when exactly these appear IS a spoiler.
- Whether characters live or die after the beginning of the movie, other than the obvious (EXAMPLE. biopics where it is common knowledge the person is dead like Judy Garland, with the upcoming JUDY movie we do not know if or when Judy is or might be portrayed as dying in the movie — and it would be a spoiler — to indicate if and especially when this movie actually shows Judy Garland’s death. Please don’t tell us, we don’t want to know!
- Sharing the resolution of major conflicts or important subplots. Example, in the horror genre, telling us that the monster is vanquished or subdued, or if another monster is revealed, are quite obviously spoilers. In a romance, telling us whether or not Jack and Jill get together would be a spoiler. In science fiction, detailing what happens on a strange planet and/or if there is alien life discovered, etc. You get the point.
- Revealing key plot twists or points beyond the beginning of the movie. In mysteries especially this can ruin the movie and make us more easily guess “whodunit” if we know too much about the details. The whole point of a mystery is to be sly in how the true murderer’s details to the viewer, so if you don’t pick up on it, you’re surprised by finding out “the butler did it.”
- Basically anything else involving significant story detail that isn’t shared in the trailer (although trailers sometimes do spoil movies — which is a whole other can of worms) and basic movie info.
From the list above, pretty much all detailed reviews are spoilers in and of themselves. It’s challenging writing a completely spoiler-free review with any substance or detail about the actual movie itself. Reviews are a spoiler landmine for the reader.
(and here this very website has “reviews” in the domain name! Aye, the irony)
This is why we personally (not preaching to anybody else, just our own practice) just say no to reading most detailed reviews before we see the movie. It’s difficult, almost impossible, for any kind of detailed review not to spoil at least something about the movie. Honestly, the worst place is often the comments areas. Avoid the wild, wild west of comment sections and Twitter and Facebook where some people take delight in spoiling movies without notice.
Want to be a good netizen? Always identify spoilers before giving them away. Spoiler tags are great. For those of who delight in spoiling movies unannounced and/or warned, there is a special movie hell awaiting you in the next life. Maybe like Adam Sandler’s hell portrayal for Hitler in Little Nicky.
(Notice how that wasn’t a spoiler for Little Nicky?)
Policing the internet is impossible, policing ourselves is more attainable.
We can control to some degree what happens at this website you’re reading now, and thus all comments here are moderated as of this writing before they appear. I know, I know, this sucks. We don’t get many comments here yet, since this is a brand new blog, but when/if we ever do, this is something we’ll need to deal with from an administrative standpoint. Sigh, I hate moderating comment areas because I believe strongly in freedom of expression, but there are jerks on the internet, unfortunately, ruining for the vast majority of good people. Just please don’t give unannounced spoilers and the world will not explode.
We are careful about reading detailed reviews before watching movies we haven’t seen. Bloggers that put the word “REVIEW” in the title of the post are helping us to avoid reading a detailed review of a movie that we have not seen and thus being spoiled.
We try and see new movies as close to when they are released as possible. The sooner we see them in the theater, the less likely we are to have come across an article or review that spoils the movie. It has happened, and it sucks, and I often hope to forget whatever spoiler was mentioned, but somehow once you see a spoiler it doesn’t leave my memory easily.
Our movie reviews through Letterboxd are relatively short and as spoiler-free as possible. Go read a few of them and judge for yourself, but every attempt has been made not to spoil anything important that moviegoers don’t already know.
We will justify why a movie is given a rating with some examples of what we liked or disliked about a movie, but no major plot points, especially endings, will be revealed — unless we use the spoiler warning in advance (we haven’t done that even once as of this writing). It might be stated that we “hated the ending” — that isn’t a spoiler. That is our opinion of how we felt about the ending.
Our opinion about a movie isn’t a spoiler. And, guess what, our opinion may/can/will differ completely from others.. We hated Ad Astra ⭐️ because the movie, to us, was dull, plodding and painstaking. There were plenty of reviews we saw from people who enjoyed the cinematography and Brad Pitt, but we don’t watch movies for an art gallery experience and even our most favorite actors in bad movies won’t guarantee we’ll review the movie favorably.
(nothing wrong with those who do focus on the more artistic elements of films, by the way, or rate movies highly because their favorite actors are starring — that just isn’t the way we roll)
We love to learn more about movies we haven’t seen yet. Motivational (I hesitate to use the word “promotional” because that sounds spammy) posts, essentially, information behind the scenes about the filming. Speculating about whether or not we think a movie will be good or bad, what types of things we would like to see in an upcoming movie, to us none of these are spoilers. This is why blogs like this one exist: to evangelize the awesome moviegoer experience. This is sharing the experience of wanting to watch more movies.
We will be sad if someday movie theaters go away.
I realize we can watch movies at home, and of course we do that darn near every day (a movie is playing while writing this), but it’s not the same social experience as going to a movie theater, buying a tub of (overpriced, yes) popcorn and soda, watching too many trailers (some of which spoil too much of the movie) and then watching something where we do not know exactly what is going to happen.
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