Friday, 20 April 2012

Dreaded Spoilers.......

This is advance warning if you haven't seen any of the following films Ringu (or the Ring remake), Sixth Sense, Planet of the Apes, the Empire Strikes Back, and Next do not read on.

There may potentially be spoilers in the text below which may ruin you viewing of said films. If this were to happen to you I'd be fairly disappointed. This isn't like one of those warnings in a horror film "don't go down (fill in blank with cellar, road, haunted house etc.)" but they still go because otherwise the film would end and well what have you paid 8 quid to watch?  This is an actual warning: this is a discussion of spoilers do not read on if you've not seen the above films. As far as good ideas go trying to reduce the readership of a blog by advising certain people not to read it may be considered a bad idea. Next week I'll write one just for blonde haired short sighted dwarfs!

The release of the Cabin in the Woods makes me wonder is the spoiler not one of the most inhumane acts that can be inflicted on another person. If we think we're a civilised people surely we should be beyond the point at which we can ruin someone else's enjoyment of a film purely because of the incessant need to keep yapping, only stopping occasionally for air.

In the Internet age it has potentially become even harder to avoid spoilers, we suffer from information overload. Type any film in to Google and you'll get plot descriptions, explanations, homages, spoilers and every other possible detail you could care to imagine. I don't just mean film reviews, in the age of Wikipedia you'll find out every detail of every film you can care to imagine. 

This reminds of the bother one of my favourite film reviewers got himself into over a slip of the tongue. In an introduction to Ringu on Channel 4's extreme cinema season he said "...evil crawls out of the television - literally!" A clever description of the films big moment? Not to the people who hadn't seen it! Of course he regretted it this wasn't malicious but it just goes to show that it's so easy to drop a spoiler!
Since spoiling the Ring Mark Kermode leaves the house prepared for "fans"

This reminds me of how the Sixth Sense was ruined for one of my friends by some loose lipped idiot in French class. "He's Dead all along" was the S-bomb dropped in the middle of repeating random French phrases which would never help any one on holiday in France, Je mal a la tete one such example. This wasn't an accidental spoiler but one delivered with glee with the aim of ruining the film for as many innocent bystanders as possible. That's truly the worst sort of spoiler, an accidental slip of the tongue is one thing but to wilfully ruin a film for people you know is truly unacceptable. I won't mention his name but someone should be allowed to follow him around ruining every moment of his life with spoilers.

Time heals all?
Cover artist: "Is this giving away too much?"
Colleague: "Nah"

However is there a point at which you can give away a twist or surprise from a film? Perhaps there's a time limit by which time if you haven't seen a film it's your fault. Can a film enter the  common consciousness, so famous that almost everyone knows the ending, twist or surprise.?

Does this rule apply to the Empire Strikes Back? Surely everyone knows Luke is Vader's offspring; what a bad ass he chopped his own son's hand off (it's a shame Hayden Christensen makes him such a whiny shit in the new films). Is the film old enough and famous enough that even people who don't know the films know the ending?

The makers of the Planet of the Apes seem to care so little about the ending they give it away on the cover, really on the cover!! Maybe you need to wait till the Simpson's do a parody musical then you're allowed to say what you like.

A Public Service?
Is there such a thing as a good spoiler? Perhaps you could make it an altruistic act, only wasting your time watching a film rather than many wasting theirs a spoiler in a communist kinda way.

I've seen the whole of the truly awful Nic Cage film, Next. Never mind the absolutely shit twist ending I had enough problems with the basic premise of it. So Nic can see into the future allowing him to see the outcomes of the different decisions he could make. Okay, so what does he do whilst he's imagining the future? Does he stand still with a gormless look on his face, and how does he view the numerous paths he could take? I have a enough problem watching the the football whilst listening to my wife never mind various visions of the future. Ignoring all this the ending occurs, stuff blows up, the bad guys win and the world ends then we realise that Nic was just thinking about what could happen and now he'll do something different! At this point I was crippled with blind panic "oh god it's going to carry on again and I've got another 30 odd minutes of tosh to sit through." Luckily this wasn't the case but am I doing a public service by telling everyone the ending so no one else has to experience this colossal waste of time? Although part of me thinks I sat through it why shouldn't you but it's moral question I struggle with.

In truth I don't think spoilers are ever acceptable.  Watching good and bad films are part of life, it give us perspective, a point of comparison. After you've seen a poor film, you appreciate the next brilliant film you watch a little more.  As Thomas Sowell once said "I've always been offended by the song that says, 'Everything is beautiful in it's own way.' If everything is beautiful then the word 'beautiful' has no meaning. if everything was purple, there would be no word 'purple' in the language as it would not distinguish one thing from another."  It's just as true with films


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