Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spoiling it for Everyone

I'm making real progress on the rewrites now and actually enjoying myself. Most of what I've done so far is compress events, change viewpoint characters (which has been really fun, seeing things from a different perspective) and move events to different places in the book. Today I get to the part where I move some of the plot in an entirely different direction.

I've experienced another weird case of blogosphere brain unity. I'd planned my post today around a topic for a panel I'll be moderating this weekend at Fencon on spoilers. And then on my morning blog surfing, it turned out that The Park Bench had a post on spoilers and whether or not to seek them out. So I guess today is spoiler day!

For those who don't do a lot of online discussion (Mom), a spoiler is information that gives away what happens in a book, movie or TV show. What actually constitutes a spoiler depends on who you're talking to. On one extreme are those who don't even want to know the episode titles, who don't watch the promos, who don't want to know who the guest stars or characters are and who don't even read the TV Guide episode descriptions and who consider any of that information a spoiler. On the other extreme are those who only consider it a spoiler if it gives away a major plot twist or the ending of the story. Then there's all kinds of disagreement on when something should be considered spoiler information -- how long after the book or movie is released, when the episode is shown in its country of origin, a delay after the first airing, when the episode has been shown in the United States, when the episode makes it around the world, when the series is out on DVD, etc. And does it only count if it's words that specifically tell you what happens, so pictures (as in LiveJournal icons) are okay, even if they give away a major plot twist? (The moment the season finale of Doctor Who aired in the UK, LiveJournal was swamped with icons depicting a major plot twist from that episode, and they appeared in personal journals that had nothing to do with Doctor Who, not just Doctor Who forums. And, ironically, there were even people who normally screech about people spoiling them using these extremely spoilery icons with entirely unrelated posts. So I suppose the definition of spoiler is often "something that spoils me.")

The global entertainment market and the global nature of online communication make it all more complicated. Release dates for movies and books vary around the world. The same TV series may be shown in multiple countries, but at different times, and when they are shown at different times, the really devoted can usually find them soon after the time of origin online, so not everyone in the same country even sees the same episode at the same time. Then with Tivo and other means of delayed viewing, as well as legal online availability, people may shift their viewing times to watch not when the episode originally airs, but when it's convenient. Quick release of full-series DVD sets means that some people don't even bother watching series on television and instead wait to just watch the DVDs. And then there are people who discover series years later via DVD. How far do you have to go to preserve the fresh viewing experience for people in all this?

So, just out of curiosity and to help me develop some good talking points and questions for the panel discussion, I have a few questions for all of you out there in blog land:
What's your stance on spoilers? Do you avoid all information, look at officially released information, or seek out every scrap of information you can get?

What do you consider to be a spoiler?

What issues do you run into in trying to avoid (or find) spoilers?

Any other thoughts you'd like to share on what you think proper spoiler etiquette should be?

(And feel free to direct people to this if you know they have strong feelings on the topic that they might want to share.)

Tomorrow I think I'll talk some about my own spoiler journey and personal spoiler policies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm the kind of person who peeks at the back of the book. I guess that means I seek out spoilers.

Ettiquette-wise, if you're gonna talk about spoilers, you should post a warning in the heading/title.