This is not complicated.


I’m going to make one of my obligatory posts about spoilers and spoiler warnings. If you’ve been here before, skim on by.

It’s prompted by this quote by Catherynne M. Valente:

It hamstrings the review to not be able to directly discuss any of the actual events that take place in the movie. How can you engage with the text without acknowledging anything within it? It’s infuriating.

Full context here.

Essentially, she puts a spoileriffic review of the movie SPLICE behind a cut because of the “howls” from people complaining about spoilers.

Look, let’s make this clear and simple for people who like to pretend their being harassed or censored somehow: If you’re going to write about a book or movie in a way that includes spoilers, just say so up front[1]. It’s a courtesy for people who haven’t seen the movie yet. Is that so challenging? Eight little letters? No one wants to “hamstring” anyone. No one wants prevent discussion. Just let us know what you’re about to do so we can make an informed decision about it.

Why is that even mildly controversial?

But what really annoys me is this assertion:

Especially because it implies that the only worth of a movie or book is the shock value in a turn of plot, nothing else. If you know the ending of The Sixth Sense going in, it’s somehow a failure as a film.

Ms. Valente has always seemed pretty sharp to me so I’m not sure what to make of this. Is it hyperbole that missed its mark? I don’t even know.

But let’s be clear: Spoiling a movie for someone changes their experience of it. I’m not going to go through the whole thing again about how it affects me to know, for instance, that a particular character is going to die, but it changes the way I experience a movie. It takes away the pleasure of a clever plot twist. In some movies, that matters. A lot.

Using spoiler warnings doesn’t imply that the only worth in a story is in the shock value of a plot, it simply acknowledges that shocking plot twists have value. It doesn’t imply that a spoiled movie is a failure, it accepts that the pleasure of seeing a spoiled movie is reduced.

All of which could have been avoided with a little basic courtesy.

In other news, yeah, there is some stressful shit going on. It doesn’t show, does it?

[1] Yeah, I realize there are people out there who don’t want spoilers on the net in any form, even after there’s been a warning. Fuck those people for being idiots. There has to be a place where people can discuss plots in full detail, and that place is anywhere they please. I’m not asking for an end to spoilers, only for a little labeling.

4 thoughts on “This is not complicated.

  1. Catherynne Valente

    I think this is a difference between LJ culture and regular blogs. I have no problem with spoiler warnings. But people on LJ don’t generally want a post to be visible in any way if it contains spoilers for anything, even years-old media. It has to be under an LJ-cut, which significantly reduces the number of readers the review gets.

    I’ve always used the eight little words. On LJ, that’s not even close to enough.


  2. Catherynne, I’ve had my LiveJournal for longer than I’ve had this blog. In fact, most of the comments and community I get come from my LJ (link to it above–I’m burger_eater there).

    The funny thing is that I always use spoiler warnings but never use cuts, and no one has complained. But then, I’ve never had a readership as large as yours.

    Spoiler courtesy rules are still being negotiated, and personally I’d rather push for warnings and nothing else–Once people get beyond requesting a simple warning, I think they’ve become too demanding.

    And you do understand, I hope, that valuing plot is not the same as saying it’s the only thing that has value.

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