Spoiler Ettiquette: Warning as Spoiler

The fact that I am explicitly not giving you information gives you information.

In drafting a post, I wanted to avoid spoiling something, one of those cases when you want to recommend something without saying why so that someone can experience the rare joy of having all the surprises. “Just go watch/play/read it. It’s that good, and I don’t want to spoil anything for you.”

But now you know there is something to be spoiled. If it were a mystery, and I said I did not want to spoil the ending for you, that would not be new information; you expect there to be a big reveal at the end. If it is an action movie, and I tell you I want to avoid spoiling the ending, that immediately tells me the ending is not “the hero kills the bad guy, gets the girl, and saves his child.” If I tell you I cannot tell you anything about it at all, that tells you it will be a deconstruction, mind screw, or otherwise filled with twists and not what it seems. The content of the surprise can still be a surprise, but knowing that a surprise is coming makes it less surprising, and your suspicious mind starts looking for clues that might have passed you by if you were not primed to expect a twist.

At some point, it becomes fair game. If you do not know about Rosebud or Luke’s father, sorry, those are public information. By now, you know that Bioshock and Portal have big surprises at their midpoints, even if you do not know what those are (and you probably know).

But how do you protect the secret without revealing the fact of the secret, other than just lying about it?

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Spoiler Ettiquette: Warning as Spoiler”

  1. Before I watched the Usual Suspects movie my friend exclaimed that I would love it and never guess how it would end up.

    I proceeded to call the movie after the first 20 mins on his spoiler.

  2. Related: When I DVR sports my wife is not allowed in the same room. She always looks up the score and just by her face I can usually tell the result.

  3. I don’t think that there are any good options here. You could talk about the craftsmanship, but there are way too many formal and informal reviews that focus on those already. I think less is more in this case. Especially if you gush about a work that you love; The things that you don’t mention might reveal more than the ones you do.

  4. Carefully crafted lying seems like the right thing to do. If phrased properly, then those who have seen it should understand and be able to follow along. Meanwhile those who haven’t are left much the less wiser and therefore have an even twistier ending.

    There is of course the classic deception with things like “the villain dies.” It doesn’t say who the villain is. Maybe this is the movie where James Bond reveals his true colors as a womanizing spy with practically no oversight or fiscal sense who has, time after time, escaped all consequences for his actions because they were in the name of security.

  5. “just lying about it” is Steven Moffat’s tactic.
    Except with Steven Moffat, there’s ALWAYS a twist. He just doesn’t want anyone to have the information to work it out…
    Sorry. I’m bitter. I’ll stop.

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