Note: I will be discussing Empire Strikes Back, the third seasons of Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, and the second season of Once Upon a Time. So, if you haven’t watched those by now, stop reading or STFU that I’m talking about them.
Spoilers are a sensitive topic in today’s fandoms. And much debate has arisen over timing and content of spoilers. What is okay to post? How long do you have to wait before it’s okay to talk about things? I find this topic to be getting pretty tedious and starting to impact my enjoyment of shows (because dear god, what can I post on my own personal blog/facebook that will not get me yelled at?), so here’s my thoughts for the once and final time.
Here’s how I think of a spoiler and to demonstrate, I shall use one of the hugest surprise plot points in history: Empire Strikes Back. Imagine it’s the day after the movie opens…
A spoiler: Guys! Holy shit, Vader is Luke’s dad!
And that is a 100% dick move.
I’d also say that this is enough of a spoiler that you should not be posting it the day after release: Guys! You will never guess who Luke’s dad turns out to be!
See, it’s trying to not to be explicit, but given that there’s no reasonable expectation for someone going into Empire to be thinking that they’d be learning anything about Luke’s parentage, it’s a still a pretty crappy thing to write.
However, this, to me, is not a spoiler: Guys! The end of Empire! Holy shit!
This is really not telling anyone anything they don’t know. You go into the movie knowing that it ends. You can reasonably assume that the ending will be big in some way. That doesn’t tell you how or why, just that this person was surprised by what happened.
To me, that’s perfectly okay.
The point at which we start telling people they can’t even post that they’ve seen an episode of a show is the point at which the strictness of anti-spoiler people starts to remove the fun of watching a show all together. Part of the fun of movies and tv is discussing it with your friends and being part of a communal reaction.
Plus, at what point on this spectrum does the spoiler onus shift from the writer to the reader? Everyone knows what day their favorite show airs and everyone knows what their tolerance for spoilers is. If you know your the kind of person for whom seeing “HOLY SHIT! THAT THING THAT HAPPENED!” is going to ruin your experience of a show, why not just stay off social media until you can watch it? Why is it up to everyone else in the world to acclimate to your strict standards?
A personal example.
I’m a huge reader of Entertainment Weekly. I know that they cover all my favorite shows the day after airing. So, when the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones aired, I had seen vague things of people being generally WTF, so I knew something big went down (though would not be able to watch the episode until the evening after airing). I also knew that if I went to the EW site, I ran the risk of seeing something about the show. I did it anyway and sure enough, saw something that tipped me to happenings in the episode. Nothing major, just an article about an interview with a title to the effect of Michelle Fairley talks about Catlyn’s decision. At which point, I closed the browser and stayed off the site until I’d seen the episode. Now, is it EW’s fault I read that? No. I knew the risk when I loaded the site.
Now, I’m not a strict no-spoiler sort, but I don’t really want to read specific details either. I don’t want to know in advance that Lori’s going to die in the prison on Walking Dead, but I’m fine knowing that the episode she dies in is bananas. I expect episodes of Walking Dead to be bananas. I don’t want to know that Snow White kills Cora, but I’m fine seeing “Wow, can’t believe Snow did that thing!” That, to me, says nothing. I know that Snow is on the show and I know that in each episode, she does things.
There’s also a question of timing – how long do you have to wait before it’s reasonable to assume that everyone has seen a show? I’m talking about previous seasons of Walking Dead and Game of Thrones because they both aired over a year ago (though I’m sure someone would bitch that I’ve spoiled it for them). But I’m not going to write about the Game of Thrones episodes from this season as the season isn’t over yet. It’s reasonable to assume that someone may not watch it as it airs. But it’s also reasonable to assume that if it’s important enough to someone to rabidly avoid spoilers, they’ve seen the previous season. If you haven’t, maybe you aren’t that big of a fan and should stop complaining?
Another personal story: I haven’t watched Breaking Bad. I’m trying to avoid major spoilers, but I also know that at this point, if I find out something, it’s my own damn fault. I’ve had over a year to watch it since the finale and I haven’t. It’s one thing to ask your friends not to speak to you directly about something you haven’t seen, but after some time has passed, I think it should be permissible to be posting plot points online. And at this point, the onus is on me to avoid articles and discussions of a show that I haven’t bothered to watch yet. It’s not reasonable of me to ask others to refrain from talking about it. If someone wants to post a status that talks about a Breaking Bad plot point, I really can’t be mad at them this long after the show has aired.
I suppose it boils down to what we can all assume are reasonable expectations of a show and each other. It’s reasonable to expect that Walking Dead or Game of Thrones are going to air episodes that make the audience go WHAT, so in my mind, if you want to post that an episode shocked you, it’s not a spoiler so long as you don’t post why. It is not reasonable to expect that Walter Frey is going to murder what seems to be a show’s protagonist or that Carl is going to shoot Lori to keep her from coming back. So no, you shouldn’t post “OMG, not Robb!” or “Well, that was the worst wedding ever!” or “Thank god Lori is gone!”
But limiting any and all reaction to a show seems, to me, to be getting into censorship territory. There’s expecting human decency and there’s expecting everyone to live by your rules. I am also a believer in personal responsibility. If you know you’re a massive spoiler hater and you know that a lot of your friends watch the same show, maybe don’t go on Facebook the day after a new episode. The flip side, of course, is that if you’re going to post something about the show, have the decency not to put in anything specific.
I was trying to think of why this topic gets so heated and I think in the end, it that everyone feels very passionate about their shows. And that’s great. I know some people think it’s just that everyone wants to put their two cents into the world, but I think that’s making it too self absorbed. I think, for a lot of people, they just love a show so much that they want to share their reaction to it so that others can share that. We all get invested in these shows and we all care when bad things happen.
So, to be clear, I’m still very against specific spoilers or plot related posts, especially right after a show airs or a movie comes out. I just think that posting a reaction is a different thing. Sure, no one has to post their reactions on social media. But no one has to read social media either. So, maybe we could all stop bitching about spoilers and – as I’ve said about a million times in this post – think about what’s reasonable to expect from each other, both as the writers and the readers.
What test do you mean?
So there’s a guy and a girl, and they’re talking to a guy that we’re going to call the Gatekeeper. And the guy goes, “Man, I really like Green Lantern.” And the Gatekeeper goes, “I know, right? Me too.” And the girl goes, “I love Green Lantern!” And the Gatekeeper goes, “Oh, yeah? Who’s the Green Lantern right now? I bet you haven’t even read the comic book.” You know? They do that kind of shit. And I’ve said it so many times: Being a nerd is not about what you love; it’s about the way you love it. And no one gets to tell another person, “You’re not loving a comic book the right way.”
I identified this when Twitter started blowing up. And just because I was an early adopter, I was on there before a lot of legitimately famous people were on there. And all of these social-media gurus were coming to talk to me and I figured out that when someone says “This is the right way to use Twitter,” the translation for that was “This is the way I can profit or benefit from you using Twitter.” And I kept telling people, “Do it your way, it doesn’t matter. Just do your thing.”
And I don’t mind kicking a beehive. Some people say to me, “You could have so many more followers if you didn’t say this or that.” And I don’t fucking care. It’s not like I’m keeping score. And you know, if I’m going to alienate people who think that standing by a park with an assault rifle is okay because you can, then I don’t want that person to follow me anyway and I don’t fucking care if they don’t support any of my work, because fuck that guy.
When I was a freshman, my sister was in eighth grade. There was a boy in two of her periods who would ask her out every single day. (Third and seventh period, if I remember correctly.) All day during third and seventh she would repeatedly tell him no. She didn’t beat around the bush, she didn’t lie and say she was taken—she just said no.
One day, in third period, after being rejected several times, he said; “I have a gun in my locker. If you don’t say yes, I am going to shoot you in seventh.”
(hold music for 15 minutes)
Rogers: Welcome to Rogers Wireless, how can I help you?
Me: I called the number on your website for Rogers Internet. I don’t know why I have you. Please transfer me.
(hold music for 25 minutes)
Me: I’d like to cancel my internet
Rogers: May I ask why?
Me: TekSavvy is significantly cheaper
Rogers: What are they offering?
Me: 300GB for $41.95. I pay $54 for 80 with you for the exact same 25mbps. That is silly.
Rogers: Let me see what I can offer you… how about a 15% discount and free modem rental?
Me: That’s still more expensive as I get over 3x the usage with them. Please cancel.
Rogers: let me transfer you to customer service.
Me: Seriously, unless you plan to offer me the exact same plan, I’m quitting. Also, I’ve already been on hold for over half an hour.
Rogers: I’ll put you in a rapid queue.
(I’m now up to 50 minutes on the line and only about 5 of that was actually speaking to a human. Not looking good for you, Rogers.)
Update: It has now been 1h 40min. Still haven’t been able to cancel. Setting up a system in which a person cannot quit without talking to a specific department is insanity.
Ambition is demanded of us because we know mediocrity is not an option. When society tells women that if we are just averagely good-looking, or averagely smart, or reasonably high-achieving, we will never be loved and safe, perfectionism is an adaptive strategy. We learn that if we want love and security, we have to be perfect, and if it doesn’t work out, well, that means we just weren’t good enough. And we know it probably won’t work out well. Girls aren’t fools. They know what is being done to them. They know what means for their futures in terms of money and power.
Girls get it. An under-reported, crucial facet of the study is the extent and cynicism of girls’ concerns about economic equality and unpaid work. A full 65% of girls aged 11-21 are worried about the cost of childcare, and while 58% say they “would like to become a leader in their chosen profession, 46% of them worry that having children will negatively affect their career.
Girls know perfectly well that structural sexism means they can’t have everything they’re being told they must have. They are striving to have it all everyway, striving to have everything and be everything like good girls are supposed to, and it hasn’t broken them yet, for good or ill. That’s is one reason young women still do so well in school and at college despite our good grades not translating to real-world success. It’s one reason we’re so good at getting those entry-level service jobs: we are not burdened by the excess of ego, the desire to be treated like a human being first, that prevents many young men from engaging proactively with an economy that just wants self-effacing drones trained to smile till it hurts.
The press just loves to act concerned about half-naked young ladies, preferably with illustrations to facilitate the concern. Somehow nothing changes. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe part of the function of the constant stream of news about young girls hurting and hating themselves isn’t to raise awareness. Maybe part of it is designed to be reassuring.
It must be comforting, if you’re invested in the status quo, to hear that young women are punished and made miserable when they misbehave.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it: for all those knuckle-clutching articles about how girls everywhere are about to pirouette into twerking, puking, self-hating whorishness, we do not actually care about young women - not, that is, about female people who happen to be young. Instead, we care about Young Women (TM), fantasy Young Women as a semiotic skip for all our cultural anxieties. We value girls as commodities without paying them the respect that both their youth and their personhood deserves. Being fifteen is fucked up enough already without having the expectations, moral neuroses and guilty lusts of an entire culture projected onto this perfect empty shell you’re somehow supposed to be. Hollow yourself out and starve yourself down until you can swallow the shame of the world.
We care about young women as symbols, not as people.
"perfectionism is an adaptive strategy"
Wow. Thought provoking.
"When society tells women that if we are just averagely good-looking, or averagely smart, or reasonably high-achieving, we will never be loved and safe, perfectionism is an adaptive strategy." - Holy shit. This.
On the recent episode of Tabletop, you have a conversation with your son about how picky you are about bacon and how it should be cooked. Please share your method, [Insert high-ranking bacon appellation here].
Asketh - xelawags
Bacon is not good for you, so you should always treat it like a special delicacy, and prepare the best you can afford, in a way that will maximize your enjoyment of all its magical goodness.
1) You only start with high quality bacon, none of that cheap Farmer John bullshit.
2.) Let your bacon sit at room temperature for up to 20 minutes.
3.) Put your bacon into a cold frying pan.
4.) Look back at 3), because this is really important: you put it into a cold pan. You do this because you’re rendering the fat off the bacon as you cook it, and if you put it into a hot pan, the fat will render unevenly and your bacon is going to curl and baby Jesus will cry.
5.) Turn your pan to a medium-low heat, and patiently wait for it to start cooking.
6.) Turn that bacon a bunch of times, so it cooks evenly without curling. If your bacon is curling, that means you have either a) used that cheap Farmer John bullshit, or b) cooked it too hot.
7.) Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your bacon will curl a little bit. Don’t stress, because the bacon can taste your stress, and that’s going to ruin your bacon.
8.) Decide how you want your bacon to finish: crispy, because you’re wrong about everything, or slightly crispy because you’re a human of superior taste. Take the bacon out of the pan accordingly.
9.) HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING POURING THAT BACON FAT AWAY? ARE YOU NUTS?!
10.) Save that bacon fat, and use a little bit of it to add flavor to breads (especially cornbread), or … even better … pan fry some cooked pinto beans in it, then whisk some Sriracha into a few scrambled eggs, pour them into the beans, cook, and enjoy with the magnificent bacon you just made.
11.) You can also cook bacon in the broiler, but I don’t recommend it because I prefer to eat my bacon without putting out a fire in my oven.