A regular reader of this blog is so fanatical about avoiding “spoilers” that he will not only avoid reviews but won’t read the blurb on DVDs or books (he’ll be squinting at this post through his fingers – don’t worry, I’m using Leong Wai Kai’s excellent Simple Spoiler).
The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker has been trying, Likely Lads style, to avoid hearing about the ending of… a recently concluded popular TV series. I’m refraining from naming it there, because I find that even knowing there’s a big twist to come can affect how I view a film – it’s a spoiler in itself. He won’t be reading the comments he’s getting, of course, in fear that someone’s posted the ending, but there’s an interesting discussion going on.
I’ve suffered spoilers and I don’t like it. Brooker advocates criminalising the revealing of spoilers (by the chopping off of a finger). The worst spoiler for me was
the first season of 24, when I’d watched up to about tea time, and someone in the common room announced, loudly, that Nina was the mole. I’d happily have chopped her finger off. However, I’m also probably the only person in the country to be surprised by the ending of The Sixth Sense.
However, we do watch films where we know the ending (one wag commented on Brooker’s article “The ending of ‘Titanic’ was spoiled for me by an exhibition in the Liverpool Maritime Museum.”) Even films with a twist I will enjoy re-watching (if they’re good) even though I’ll already know the ending. Indeed, I’ve got several on DVD:
- Abre Los Ochos
- The Others
- The Usual Suspects
And that’s not just because I’ve got such a lousy memory I forgot how they ended.
We will go and see plays we’ve seen before (the “classics”) sometimes many times (eg. Shakespeare) or re-read novels; we’ll get something new each time, and the more complex and multilayered a work, the more satisfaction can be had. And what about adaptations or remakes? I still watched
Fight Club even though I’d already read it, and both the original and the remake of The Quiet American.
I won’t avoid reviews or summaries either; I find a little context often increases my understanding and enjoyment. All the same, for films with a “twist”, giving away the ending to someone is, basically robbing them of the enjoyment of the surprise. Perhaps on repeated viewings what I’m enjoying is the memory of that first time…
And if you don’t like spoilers, just let me say this: don’t go anywhere they sell the Radio Times this week.