Just Say No … To Spoilers

By November 1, 2016
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The following is an opinion piece on the world of, well, spoilers. But no worries, there be no spoilers ahead, because that would kind of defeat the whole purpose of what you’re gonna find below. 

When I first started writing entertainment news stories online in 1998, I intended to be a straight-up reporter. Basically, take industry news surrounding Hollywood and “translate” it from “inside baseball” talk to something you and I could easily understand while standing around the water cooler.

efc110116Except it really didn’t work out that way. Just months into this new venture, I developed not one but three sources inside the production of a small Tribune Entertainment show called Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict. You remember that show at all? It featured aliens that looked and sounded an awful lot like the Talosians from the Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” and proved we learned nothing from watching V.

Anyway, I suddenly found myself being sent full episode scripts well ahead of their broadcast. The temptation, of course, was to publish them. But that’s wrong, both ethically and legally. However, there had to be something I could do – and there was. I started reporting spoilers.

titanic110116The word “spoilers” is akin to ruining something to the point where you don’t need to watch it. Like when I walked out of the theater in 1996 and ruined Titanic for those waiting in line to see it after me by informing them the ship sank in the end. It wasn’t very nice of me, but I was practicing for what would become a sort of mini-career in spoiler reporting.

My idea, however, was not to ruin it to the fact you wouldn’t tune in. Instead, I would spoil smaller elements that were still interesting, and would make you want to watch, not give you something instead of watching. It’s probably why the studios, for the most part, left me alone for more than a decade – and why many more programs over those years would feed me information.

But by late 2008, however, I realized something that really bothered me: I couldn’t remember the last time I watched something on television or in the movies and was genuinely surprised by what happened. I mean, I was learning inside information on episodes and movies that I didn’t even cover.

And you know what? It made me bored watching television, and bored going to the theater. I started looking for obscure shows and movies to entertain myself with.

Yet, there was still a thrill in being a spoiler reporter. Some of my final spoilers came with Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica where I not only (kind of) revealed who the final Cylon was, but I also was the first (and only) reporter to make it clear the show would end in present-day New York City.

bashir110116After that, I had enough. Seriously. I had not had my jaw drop to the floor since Dr. Bashir was revealed to be a shapeshifter in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – a show that had been off the air since about the time I became a spoiler reporter.

I bring this all up for a reason, believe it or not. It has to do with Game of Thrones or really any show or film where there is a major leak. Just because the information is out there, do you really want to know what’s going to happen ahead of time?

There was an email hack a couple years ago that revealed, among many other things, the entire screenplay to Spectre, the most recent James Bond film. Fans flocked to that illegal posting to read the script and get all the juicy details. But I didn’t, and I wouldn’t talk to anyone who did. I want to go to the theater and enjoy Spectre. I don’t want to know what’s coming before it comes. I want to see it unfold in front of me, and absolutely enjoy it.

That’s the whole point of entertainment right? To be entertained? Maybe you can say that reading ahead in a book is part of that entertainment, but it isn’t for me.

I was not one of those people who read the Song of Ice and Fire series from George R.R. Martin before the HBO series came out. In fact, when one of my longtime reporters started writing about Game of Thrones on my old site way back when HBO first optioned the books, I actually thought he was writing “Game of Thorns,” and thought that was an interesting title (although Game of Thrones is much better).

Now, for just the second time, you are going to get a chance to watch a whole season of Game of Thrones without a clue of what’s happening. Sure, that’s mostly because it seems to take Martin 29 years to write a book …  but still, why not go into next season, sit down and be surprised?

For me, the Red Wedding was awesome because I had no idea it was coming. Hell, the fate of Ned Starke was enough for me to be like, “This is a series I no longer can ignore. I must watch this.”

Wasn’t this past season so much better thanks to actually not knowing? Each episode was a surprise not just to people who don’t read like me, but for those who do. And it finally gave us all something in common.

I’m not saying you can’t read spoilers. Go, do it. But please don’t come by my place next summer when the next season airs. Because I intend to sit and watch Game of Thrones the way the cast and crew work so friggin’ hard to present it to me. And I respect what they do in their craft to ensure I experience it the way it’s supposed to be – with my jaw completely dropped to the floor.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael has spent more than 18 years of his way-long journalism career in entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based in New York City.