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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Show bingers beware: Spoiling is on the rise and it needs to stop

I am a victim of a spoiler. In an interview before the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Angela Bassett and husband Courtney B. Vance revealed details about the second “Black Panther” movie. The actors got too excited and decided to drop spoilers. Herein lies the issue: My unexpecting ears weren’t prepared to hear this information.

Spoiling a movie or TV show takes away the excitement and overall pleasure in a story. I love the anticipation of watching something new. When you watch a new movie or read a new book, it’s like being in line at an amusement park. You’re waiting to get on the mysterious ride. You have no idea what is going to happen, but you’re ready for all the twists and turns that will come your way. Now, imagine someone intervening and telling you every important detail about this ride. All the mystery of the ride is gone. So you end disappointed: you either leave the line, or stay and let your nervous eat you alive. But in any scenario, the experience isn’t the same as it would have been if you’d been kept in the dark. This is what happens when a story is spoiled for you. You no longer have that same excitement you started with because you know what the climax of the story is going to be. Like many, you may no longer want to watch, listen or continue to read. On the other hand, I can understand the notion that spoilers are inevitable. Nowadays, whenever a new episode of a show comes out, people feel the need to hide from the internet, especially social media. Otherwise, they have to scroll quickly past any potential spoilers. I often find myself yelling “I haven’t watched it yet” whenever my friends start talking about the latest episode of “How to Get Away with Murder.” However, there’s always that one person in the group that finds a weird happiness in spoiling the episode for everyone.

I’ve heard the argument that spoilers improve the experience of watching a show. The argument is that good storytelling doesn’t need to rely on anticipation and suspense. If a story is good, people are going to enjoy it whether or not it’s spoiled. However, good storytelling captures your attention from the beginning. It moves you emotionally through the character’s actions. If good storytelling doesn’t need to rely on anticipation and suspense, then why listen, watch or read a story if you already know how it ends?

It’s the emotions that go along with the story that make a spoiler impactful. When a story is spoiled, you can’t produce the same authentic emotions you would’ve felt if you hadn’t been spoiled. Consequently, you are no longer emotionally connected to the story. We need to give people the common courtesy of allowing them to experience something in a way that is personal to them.

Like many others, when I don’t know how a story will turn out, I appreciate it more. Next time you catch yourself about to spoil a story, check yourself. Make sure to ask if everyone is up to date. If not, find ways to discuss the story without spoiling it. That also goes for social media. Before you post something that might be a spoiler, make sure you include the word “spoiler” before any information.

When the second “Black Panther” comes out, I’m not going to be able to watch it with the same enthusiasm and joy as I did watching the first “Black Panther.” I sadly won’t be able to experience the same shock value as everyone else. Learn from my experience. Be aware. Let’s all agree to be spoiler-free.

Anede Siffort is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Fridays.

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