Spoiling the Moment

July 1st, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

Recently there was a post on spoilers on io9, and a little dust-up over them at the new scans_daily, and it got me thinking about the popularity of spoilers in general.  The io9 post dealt with someone who asserted that spoilers were a status symbol among fans, and that’s why people love them so.  This concept is alien to me.  I don’t doubt that there are a few big men out there, bragging about their inside information, but fans can turn anything into a status symbol, from bagging and boarding to camping out outside a movie theater in order to ensure that you are the first person to get tickets to a movie that anyone can see two hours later.  Plus, the few people I’ve met who have legitimate spoilers just seemed happy to be able to share the information.

The scans_daily scuffle was more understandable to me.  Fans posted the last page of the latest Wonder Woman comic, in which a big change is made.  This change was what the last eight issues had been leading up to.  Creator Gail Simone showed up in the comments, annoyed that the point of eight months worth of comics was revealed abruptly online instead of at the end of the book, as she had intended.

I’ve tried my hand at creative work, and I can understand the frustration that creators must feel.  Working on a narrative is about building an specific experience.  You want your audience to have moments of enjoyment, frustration, suspense and revelation.  So have someone sum it all up with ‘the butler did it’ renders the whole experience, and your work, meaningless.

At the same time, I can understand very well why fans clamor for spoilers.  Most of the time, I prefer them.  Not all kinds of suspense are pleasant.  I can’t enjoy a story all that well if I spend the whole time wondering if I’m going to get stuck with continuity that I hate at the end of it.  The pacing of comics often compounds this.  Story lines are stretching longer and longer, meaning that a story can pose a question one year that won’t be answered until two years later.  I don’t want to pick up a story and think, “Wow.  The Christmas after next, when I figure out what the hell is going on, is going to be gooood.”  I want to know where I’m going so I can stretch out and enjoy the trip.

I guess who you think is  right depends on who you think has rights to a story.  Is it the creator’s to give out as they wish?  Or do fans have the final say in how they want to enjoy the stories they buy?

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14 comments to “Spoiling the Moment”

  1. “I want to know where I’m going so I can stretch out and enjoy the trip.”

    I cannot relate to this at all, although I see it whenever I have read a Q & A from a con. Fan after fan asking when this or that will happen or when their favorite characters will show up while the creators reply over and over again “keep reading.”

    Fan’s rights begin and end with the purchase, everything else is OCD or their own inflated sense of entitlement.

  2. I’d rather not know what happens at the end of a story, but I don’t get too upset if I do.

    The thing about spoilers and comics is that comics fans, in part due to training by the companies. It’s not about the stories themselves at all. It’s about what happens at the end of them, not how. It’s where the little action figure guys are left when the dust settles and “The End” shows up on the last page instead of “Continued…” Batman is Dick Grayson, Captain America is dead, and Norman Osborn is back in jail.

    It’s dumb. I can’t relate to that at all. Knowing the end of 100 Bullets or The Invisibles or Kraven’s Last Hunt doesn’t make the stories any less good. Why not just read Wikipedia if all you want to know is the status of the hero at the end? I don’t think that the point of a story is the last page, it’s everything leading up to that last page. I could tell you who dies in 100 Bullets 100, and issues 1-100 would still be very enjoyable.

    A good story is a good story to me, regardless of spoilers.

  3. @seth hurley: I can see why creators don’t answer the question at a Con. The minute they open their mouths, it’ll be the headline in a dozen different sites.

    I’m wondering whether or not I should have used the word ‘right’ in my questions, but I’m having trouble finding a different wording. I guess it boils down to the fact that although I don’t think fans should consider themselves entitled to a free pass to all the facets of story-making, I also don’t think creators are entitled to dictate how or why fans enjoy the story. I suppose my stand is that the story belongs to the creator, and the reaction belongs to the fans.

    @david brothers: Mm. I guess that’s the downside of the event-universes that have evolved in modern comics. If you know that each storyline is going to end with a huge upset, you want to know what that upset is. Or, at least I do. At the same time, there is something really fun about an unexpected twist. I suppose I’d enjoy the unexpected more if I didn’t think that it was going to throw the whole world I’m reading out of whack.

  4. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: Could this tie back into Character fans vs Story/writer/artist fans? I know that I can finish GMo’s Batman and bounce with a good, or at least decent, story on my bookshelf without worrying about some schmo’s run on the book after that. People who like Batman are stuck with John Q Comicwriter’s “Batman: Grimace” or whatever.

  5. @david brothers: The plight of Character Fans is terrible and profound, David. Terrible. And profound.

  6. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: “I suppose my stand is that the story belongs to the creator, and the reaction belongs to the fans.”

    that sums it up pretty well.

    Do you find the twists in the event-universes really to be unexpected? I mean so much as how you said it would throw the world you are reading out of whack.

    I find that most of the status quo changes in the last several years, Civil War/Secret Invasion/Dark Reign etc., to be, well, kind of obvious.

  7. Some more, some less, but I always want to know where it’s going so I can . . . mourn, mostly.

    I guess I’d be more anti-spoiler if they were about the story.
    For example, Dini did a wonderful arc about a magician named Loxias in his recent run, with an impressive twist at the end. If I’d had the spoiler for that, the run wouldn’t have been as good. I like to be unspoiled when the solicits say, “What is Two-Face’s ultimate goal and who is ____.”

    Instead the solicits tend to say, “Two-Face is rounding up all the twins in Gotham in order to make his own personal army to overthrow Mayor Hill. How will this change everything for Tim Drake?!?!” If that’s the case, then yeah, I want to know ahead of time so I can enjoy the adventure instead of worrying about the all-new continuity.

  8. Wow, S_D biting the hand that’s commended it so often there.

    I hunger after spoilers like mad, but once I’ve read them, I’m left with a vague feeling of emptiness and a lesser enjoyment of a story when I get my hands on it, typically. I’ve quit reading previews for movies and comics I want to watch. Just give me enough to pique me, don’t tell me everything in advance!

    My mom on the other hand reads the last chapter of books in the store, so she knows it will have a happy ending. She’s not interested in feeling bad, even if it’s a good book.

    As to OTHER FANS revealing spoilers to me? It makes me so. very. angry. I cannot stand to have my opinion-building process tainted by others. This is to the point that if there’s a movie I want to see coming out, I either go on opening night or not at all because I just cannot handle having Joe Coworker tell me they love the part where the guy did that thing.

    Yeah, I know. Crazy.

  9. @ACK: I’m beginning to think I’m the only one who likes spoilers. It’s just me and your mom.

  10. I love spoilers. For some reason knowing the destination doesn’t always ruin the journey for me.

  11. I don’t like spoilers for things that I’m reading, I think I’d have murdered anyone that gave me spoilers for the Wire season five, or the end of 100 Bullets.

    I do, however , like spoilers for stuff I’m not reading. I wanted to know what happened at the end of Battle for the Cowl and Final Crisis (for example) because I had no intention of actually reading them, but it would effect what happens in books I do want to read.

    So I guess I don’t really know what my point is.

  12. I’m one of those people who is rarely ever bothered by spoilers. Sometimes I try and keep the surprise for something important, but otherwise I usually just don’t care. My brain just doesn’t work on the assumption that something is less fun just because I know how it end. If being spoiled was ever like that, than reruns in general would be unenjoyable.

    Sometimes, even, knowing the ending helps me to better understand the plot as it’s coming.
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  13. As long as it’s warned, I don’t really care. I usually don’t mind being spoiled, because I like to watch for foreshadowing, etc., as I go. On the other hand, if I get spoiled without being told, I get irrationally pissed off.

  14. Spoiler addiction has boiled up over the last few years because outside of the hardcore 100,000 who are left, the other 150,000 or so who regularly buy single issues ie are burned with crap comics on a monthly basis can’t afford to buy every abortus brought out by Disney or Warner, can’t be bothered humoring the “creators” ie franchise managers to read and read sub par stuff to get to the point, and in an increasing number of cases no longer trust or indeed it seems like the people actually making those particular comicbooks. There’s no trust so then it devolves into a skip to the ending mentality- “is my fave character ruined for two years? cause that would hella save me money”