Spoilers

I am not seeing The Last Jedi on opening night. My wife has a work-related function that I’m joining her for. I know I have to work Friday night, and Saturday is my wife’s birthday and we’ll be doing things she most wants to do. But Sunday we’ll be going to a matinee showing at my favorite theater, the Indiana State Museum IMAX.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie. Especially with such favorable reviews, my anticipation is getting the better of me. But I’ll wait. It’s still opening weekend.

I’m not worried about spoilers, though. I’ve never really cared about spoilers. I’ve always felt that a good story will work whether you know the fundamentals of what’s going to happen or not. And seeing an alleged account of a leaked event in a film isn’t the same as believing; no matter how many genuine spoilers there are, there will always be even more misdirections and total fabrications. To be honest, for some movies (especially horror films) and some television shows (especially tense dramas), I’ll spoil elements of the plot for myself to dissipate some of the anxiety of viewing. It’s not a required thing, and I’m not making some claim that I absolutely cannot handle a surprise. That’s absurd. If I’m really into a show, like Mindhunter or Stranger Things, I delight in the tension and am happy to wait for whatever surprises may come. But I don’t really like being on edge, I don’t really get a thrill out of horror, and so I do something about it. On very rare occasions, I’ve regretted spoiling something. And I won’t deny that knowing something beforehand lacks the same quality of experience as when you are surprised–maybe even overwhelmed–in the moment.

I’ve never been angry with anyone for spoiling anything, though. And as for online trolls and such…I don’t know, doesn’t that get back to my comment about credibility? Maybe I’m just not so incredibly Online as others who apparently seem to stumble onto leaks they never wanted to see while wandering the web (in fact, I know I’m not), but I’ve only really ever come across plot-spoiling information when I’ve specifically sought it out.

Isn’t the general hyper-concern over spoilers a bizarre thing, anyway? People talk about unofficial bans on plot discussion as though this is an ancient social norm, even if very few people agree on just how long it is appropriate to preserve such a ban. People go out of their way not just to avoid websites but to mute certain hashtags and conversations on Twitter–and they prominently and frequently proclaim their efforts, too. People who care about spoilers actually, well, spoiling things really do like to make a lot of noise about it.

This might, in the end, merely be reflective of the microcosm of the Internet that I observe, although the behavior has always been there among some of my friends and acquaintances in real life. I’m not judging–well, I’m trying not to judge–but I don’t understand the passion some feel about the subject.

I tried to think about times that I was surprised by something that happened in a film or TV show or book, and about moments that especially stuck with me. I could think of some examples of the former, but nothing of the latter.

How much is an experience worth, anyway?

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