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relationship with spoilers

I’m not seeing the new Avengers movie this week. I haven’t even seen Black Panther yet. And it’s not because I’m just too hipster to see the thing that all my friends like, it’s because I have a major balance disorder and I have learned my lesson about what I can and can’t see in movie theaters. The answer is mostly can’t. You don’t want to know how many times I was sick in the five days after The Last Jedi–and sure, yes, we later figured out that I probably had either very persistent food poisoning or a stomach bug that I managed to pass on to zero of the people I cooked for that night, but honestly, the first several times? surprised no one. Because balance disorder. Even when the balance disorder is well under medication control, the things I can see in the theater are the things that people tell you are not important to see in the theater. The things where the spectacle is not the point. The things that are not packed with fast-cuts and panning and awe-inspiring camera angles.

(Speak not to me of Arrival. NO.)

So: theaters. Not for me. I know people who go internet silent for a day, two days, even a week, to avoid spoilers on a movie they’re not going to have a chance to see right away, but honestly: that is not feasible. I have not seen Black Panther yet. Sure, if it was vital to me, I could pirate a copy. A better solution is to form a different relationship with spoilers.

Because…sure, yes, it is nice to be able to let a story unfold without knowing where it’s going. It is. I recently watched Brigsby Bear (at home, streaming on my TV), and if you can watch that without spoilers, I recommend it; it’s not that it’s thoroughly unpredictable, but having it unfold organically added to my experience, I think. (Mark Hamill is great in it.) But I watched it with someone who had seen it before, and I will happily watch it again; if it wasn’t worth watching again, it wouldn’t really be worth watching. Because most stories have been told in some form already, and the question is, how will the details work this time. How will the experience of it be.

Which is not to say that I think you should go out of your way to spill the details of a brand-new book or movie to those who haven’t read or seen it; you notice that I’m fairly careful about that in my posts here. I know that a lot of people don’t have the attitude I do, and that’s okay. But…I don’t have a lot of choice. And I like where I’ve ended up with that. I’ve made a virtue of that necessity, rather than railing against it. I’m still looking forward to seeing Black Panther. Being the last one on my block to see a thing has its perqs; having a phalanx of friends I could turn to and say “I got to the episode that’s Amethyst’s origin story!!!” when I was watching Steven Universe was a lot of fun.

And I’m not really the last one on my block. This week someone else got to Amethyst’s origin story and wrote to me. A couple weeks ago, a different friend did. Today I read a Moliere play for the first time. When I read Middlemarch there was the entire horde of Middlemarch fans ready to squee and welcome me in; when I mentioned it in a recent book post, a local friend said “OH FINE YOU’VE CONVINCED ME” and I expect that when she gets to it I will get email from her. My best girl friend from college hasn’t gotten there yet, but maybe when her youngest leaves for college I’ll get an email that says, “Dear Marissa, I have just finished Middlemarch. OMG YOU WERE RIGHT.” Because you’re never actually the last one on your block to get to it, and hearing something something Dorothea something is not the same thing as reading it.

So yeah, I’ll probably find out sometime this week that the Infinity War was the friends we made along the way, and that’s fine. It really is the journey. And when it’s not, I don’t want to go on that trip anyway.

1 thought on “relationship with spoilers

  1. I don’t have vertigo but I also can’t watch things in theatres very much because they’re loud and overwhelming and I find changes of camera angle to be disorienting. Changes of costume makes it hard to tell who the characters are. It doesn’t work for all kinds of films but for dialogue heavy films sometimes I just search for subtitles online, download the subtitle file and just read the film instead.

    I really like low budget artsy films where the camera mostly stays put for the duration of a scene and people don’t change clothes very often and nobody looks airbrushed.

    I like spoilers. I like to know in general terms, where I’m going to be taken so that I can relax and enjoy the ride. Spoilers are like the bit of cardboard they put in the front window of buses that tell you which city the bus is going to and which cities it will stop in. If I know what’s going to happen then I can pay attention to foreshadowing and watch how it develops and notice all the things I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.

    I know that’s what rereading is for but I guess I just find it more pleasureable this way. I find suspense stressful and I tend to get bored of the feeling if it goes on too long. I can start to feel strung along if the suspense goes on too long. I stopped watching Prison Break was because every episode was “they almost got caught and then they didn’t.” and I felt like we’d never get to the bottom of what was going on because they wanted to make more seasons rather than tell a story.

    Sometimes I don’t want to read/watch a thing at all; I just want to know what happens. I tried and failed to read Stranger in a Strange Land last year. I’d read it and liked it as a teenager but I also didn’t really understand much of what happened after he got to earth. I wanted to see if I could make sense of it as an adult. But, as an adult, I found I really couldn’t get past the constant sexism. Reading it felt like such a chore that I stopped. I don’t actually want to read it; I want to have read it. Maybe I will just read the spoilers or find someone who did a deconstruction of it and read that instead.

    I know I’m in the minority with my taste in spoilers so I know not to spoil things for other people though.

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