When it comes to spoilers, most of my friends and family would say I’m a kind of radical idealist. For the most part they’re probably right, as I will go to extreme lengths to advocate for the avoidance of unwanted plot information pertaining to movies, television, books, comics, etc. At the end of the day, I admit, I’m a Spoilerphobe.
Having said this, just because I’m a little sensitive when it comes to spoilers doesn’t mean I’m going to remain silent when I see social ills being carried out en masse. In my mind, one of my biggest concerns is the debate surrounding putting a statute of limitations on spoilers. Whereas most people attempt to quantify the appropriate time when open, unfiltered spoiler talk becomes socially acceptable, I totally reject this practice altogether, and believe it breeds thoughtlessness and a lack of cultural foresight.
However, whenever I mention this idea to different people, I am usually met with slight variations on the same kind of response, “Hey man, that movie came out, like, two years ago. Get over it.” This attitude is shared by individuals like Hugo Award winning author John Scalzi, who on his personal blog provides specific parameters for when you are allowed to spoil entertainment properties after their initial release: for television, one week; for movies, one year; and for books, five years.
Even people within the entertainment industry think this way, since the home video re-releases of classic films like Planet of the Apes and The Bridge on the River Kwai prominently feature vital plot information and twist endings on their respective DVD box artwork.
Not only does this attitude toward spoilers reinforce the idea that our society views these forms of narrative as cheap, disposable commodities – “Seen that. Whatever. What’s next?” – but it proves that we are totally okay with short-changing future generations and sabotaging the way they experience the movies, television, and literature of the past.
Should a young child be denied the narrative twists and turns of a show like House of Cards later in life, simply because of the fact that they are currently not old enough to grasp its more mature content? By adopting a strict statute of limitations with regards to spoilers we are denying the next generation the opportunity to experience past art and entertainment at their own pace.
Furthermore, this policy is extremely insulting to the people who have to work hard for a living. For example, someone who works two jobs while having to contend with a full course load at school may not have the time or money to keep themselves up-to-date on every single notable development in the oversaturated modern entertainment industry. Should these hardworking individuals be punished for making commitments that don’t involve keeping up with the latest season of Game of Thrones?
As such, establishing a statute of limitations on spoilers is a completely short-sighted policy that only champions rapid cultural consumption, while completely disregarding future generations and those who like to absorb classic art and entertainment at their own pace.
In the end, all I’m asking for is responsible consideration and empathy when it comes to the discussion of modern and classic entertainment properties in a public setting. Is that too much to ask?