Sunday, 28 July 2013

On Spoilers


Do not read further if you don't like to know about things that you haven't read or watched. Plot twists are spoken of, events are revealed, deaths are divulged.

A year or two ago, just before the first Game of Thrones TV programme came out, I was lambasted on an online forum - that bastion of civility and restraint - for spoiling; that is, giving away as yet unbroadcast - or at least unseen by some people - plot. Bear in mind I hadn't even seen the show yet myself, nor had I read any reviews, sneak peaks or indeed any spoilers. So what could I have said that so upset the pseudonymous forumite so?

"Sean Bean's character dies."

(or words to that effect)

You know what I based that statement on? The fact that Sean Bean was in the show and the show wasn't called Sharpe's Dragons. As we all know, Mr Bean (not that Mr Bean), has a habit of playing characters that peg it before the credits roll. And we love him for it.

"All you've got to do is stand, and fire three rounds a minute. Now, you and I know you can fire three rounds a minute. But can you stand?"
Anyway, even though it was meant as a knowing joke about the pigeon-holing of a certain actor, it didn't go down well with at least one person on the forum, and I was duly upbraided for spoiling the forthcoming Game of Thrones TV series for him. Fair enough, you might say, my words were ill-chosen.

But wait a minute, isn't Game of Thrones the TV series based on A Song of Fire and Ice, the best selling book series? And wasn't the first volume, A Game of Thrones, first published waaaay back in 1996, some 15 - count 'em - 15 years prior to the telly series going out? Wasn't it reasonable to assume that the events of this first book at least might well be fair game by now? Especially on a geektabulous forum like this one (frequented by gamers).

So here's the thing - can you spoil something that's already been out in the public domain for 15 years? What about if something's been out in book form for 15 years and we've (I say we, y'know, geeks) been happily discussing it for ages when all of a sudden a TV adaptation comes around, opening it up to a wider audience? Do we then shut up as the work is now available to a whole new demographic (who presumably have not visited the fantasy section of Waterstones or other leading book sellers for a decade and a half)? Is there not a statute of limitations on spoilers?

Then what if they suddenly announce, I dunno, a TV series based on Iain M Banks' Culture books? Apart from that being an awesome idea, do I have to suddenly refrain from discussing the books, in case somebody who A) wants to watch the series but B) hasn't read the books, is listening?

What about the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, featuring love interest Gwen Stacy? Am I supposed to not say that in the comics Gwen died in 1973? 

The inherent dangers of sudden weblash
Should I pause and consider, before mentioning any work of literature (and yes I bloomin' well am including books and sci-fi, thankyouverymuch) that may be adapted to a visual medium at some point in the future, if anyone present considers themselves to be a member of the set of elements A intersection B (see above)?

Or should I just, like, never talk about anything that might be on TV or film that may have been based on something else? Coz, I'm telling you, if you take comics and sci-fi and TV and films away from me, I'm pretty much a conversational vacuum.

By the way, Vader is Luke's dad, Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze, Bruce Willis' character is a ghost, that's Gwyneth Paltrow's head in the box, and Zakalwe was actually Elethiomel all along. Ha! 


Anonymous said...

I have this teeshirt.

You might like it.

The Chocolate Ocelot said...

Oh, I definitely want that! Thanks jfs :)