A blog about spoilers (contains no spoilers)
With the arrival of the last season of Game of Thrones, the release of Avengers: End Game and much more, we are living in a time of spoilerfobia. Spoilerfobia can be quite annoying. Merely mentioning a TV-show or a movie’s existence can be already too much for people to handle. However, I am sadly not writing this blog to argue against spoilerfobia. I am here to defend it.
A famous idea in storytelling is the act of withholding information. When you watch something, you are not offered immediate answers. You are offered questions. Much of the enjoyment of a story lies in thinking about these questions. For example: criminal thrillers. In criminal thrillers you are not told who the murderer is in the beginning of the story. You are given clues to collect the puzzle pieces building up to the final reveal. The act of withholding information can also be done more subtly. Showing a person is poor not by literally telling the reader/viewer but by showing it in a subtle way. For example: describing/showing how the character eats.
This storytelling technique is where spoilerfobia comes from. Getting spoiled takes away the power from the storyteller to withhold some information because you already know all the information. Spoilers therefore make things boring. They ruin the vital storytelling technique that storytellers use to make things interesting. Even a very subtle spoiler can have great impact. Watching a movie trailer is a very common way in how movies get spoiled for a person watching the trailer. Movie trailers often give you a basic idea of the story, they show the important characters and the locations they’ll visit. Watching the movie, you’ll subconsciously enjoy the movie less. You are still given questions, but you already know the answers. Knowing the answers makes thinking about the questions less fun. You’ll subconsciously think things like: “Ah she is the main character she won’t die in the first 10 minutes” or “He won’t die here because I saw him in another location in the trailer”. So: if you are planning to watch a movie. Don’t watch the trailers. The most ideal scenario for watching a movie/TV show is not knowing its name, its genre, who plays in it and how long it will be. So, basically: know nothing!
However, you might now think that I have the worst spoilerfobia ever. My idea of a spoiler makes it impossible to ever talk about a movie or TV show or book. I disagree. Of course, you can still talk about movies and books. You just need to be mindful for people that have not seen or read them yet. Let me convince you. Ask a friend to pick a new movie for you without knowing its name, genre and length. Watch it and see how it feels. I believe you will notice the difference and never go back.