Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Do You Think About TV 'Spoilers'?

Spoilers are a major pain in the butt when you write, tweet or Facebook about TV shows because it’s inevitable that someone, somewhere will have DVRed the program about which you’re sharing your sparklingly insightful observations. And some of those folks may loudly object to any revelation, even about an already-aired TV program, no matter how witty your remarks might be.

If you’re blogging about a TV show -- even if you plaster a big, fat old “spoiler warning” at the top of your entry as I'm wont to do -- there are people who'll still go nutty because they want everyone to keep the TV episode information under wraps and not put anything out there that that might inadvertantly wreck their surprise when they finally get around to watching the show. (This is why, after Sun and Jin drowned on Lost, I chose to put the photo of them AFTER the jump so people looking at the blog wouldn't holler that I'd spoiled the episode of "The Candidate" by posting their image under the headline, "Lost's 'The Candidate' Made Me Cry, Dammit".)

If you’re live-tweeting or Facebooking a TV show as you watch it, people who either a) DVRed the program or b) live in another location where the show hasn’t yet aired, are likely to blast you for being an East Coast elitist spoil sport.

For example, the day AFTER the massively hyped, buzz-worthy Lost series finale, I tweeted and blogged (this blog is syndicated on Facebook via Networked Blogs) about the finale and later read status updates from people threatening to de-friend/unfollow people who posted anything resembling a Lost spoiler because they hadn’t seen the finale yet.

So when I read Jay Black’s post on TV Squad (Full disclosure: I used to blog for them) entitled, “TV 101: The Spoiler Police Need to Calm Down,” I wanted to stand up and cheer. After offering up his own definition of spoilers – which he said include the endings of movies (for which you have to pay) and "inside" information about what’s going to happen in advance of it being aired on a TV show – Black, a pop culture/TV writer, issued a few of his personal rules about spoilers including these:

-- “One a show begins to air, I can discuss it in real time. If you live on the West Coast, stay off of Twitter and Facebook. Sorry, it’s the price you pay for great weather and loose marijuana laws.”


-- “After the show is finished, anything and everything is on the table. If you don’t wish to hear about it, I suggest you unplug your Internet connection and move into the Unabomber Cabin.”

A few weeks ago, I hadn’t been able to watch a pair of DVRed episodes of 24. I knew that I’d be going on Twitter, Facebook and pop culture/TV web sites which would likely be discussing the shows before I’d be able to watch them and that I might come across information about the unseen episodes. And I did. I learned that Renee Walker had been killed before I saw it unfold on my DVR. But I wasn’t angry because the whole world doesn’t have to grind to a halt and NOT talk about already-aired 24 episodes just because I had too much on my plate for a couple of weeks. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You make choices.

Black feels the same way:

“The Internet shouldn’t be subject to your personal whims. The Internet exists for only three purposes: To spread information, the (ahem) intellectual discussion of that information and hardcore balloon stomping fetish porn. To ask everyone to tiptoe around the first and second of those pillars just because you DVRed Dexter and haven’t gotten around to watching yet is pure selfishness.”

What do you think about “spoilers” about TV shows? Do you have a problem with people live-tweeting/Facebooking shows or blogging about them once they’ve aired? Have you had episodes “spoiled” for you?


Pamela said...

Here's a wonderful chart from Wired on when it's OK to talk about a TV show.

Meredith O'Brien said...

Thanks for that link Pamela!

It seems like not everyone agrees about when a spoiler's a spoiler. said...

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