Spoilers in Books: A Discussion.

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Dimesdan, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    C'mon, it's pretty clear he means dangerous in the sense that it's risky...If someone who hasn't read a book talks about details they've heard about it, they run the risk of unknowingly spoiling it for someone else.

    By the way, isn't hyperbole already over the top by definition? ;)
     
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    "It's too dangerous/risky to enter that thread." I'm sure many of us have said that at some time.
     
  3. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Just to offer an alternative position, I'd say that spoilers can only exist for stories (be they films, television episodes, novels, etc) that have not yet been released. Spoilers used to be a word referring to plot details that were known before the release of the material. Now it has been expanded to refer to any details of the story (including non-plot-relevant details) that someone else hasn't learned about yet!

    There will always be a segment of the fanbase that hasn't read a novel or seen an episode. Therefore, by the current definition of "spoiler", there will always be spoilers! That's ridiculous, though. If a spoiler is anything that someone hasn't experienced yet, then all of Shakespeare's works should be spoiler coded when discussed, and in fact every story that exists in human culture can't be discussed without spoiler codes.

    The idea that "spoilers" can exist for stories that have been out and available for any length of time strikes me as ridiculous. That not everyone will get to the story immediately is no one's fault, it's just a fact. Walking around on eggshells, trying to not "spoil" plot details of a released story for people who have not yet read it is pointless.

    In summary, I think we should return to a definition that only categorizes plot details of stories that have not yet been released as spoilers. Anything else is just silly.
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    ^I often seem to receive my copy of a new book Down Under a few days - sometimes even a week - before anyone in the US. Does that mean I can quickly skim read it and post spoilery details of each book within hours of receiving it? Even before Pavonis has read it?

    First in, best dressed.

    No, because each book doesn't arrive in each world location at the same time. Some places still have a two to three-month delay due to distributors using sea freight.

    Can I stand outside live theatres showing Shakespeare or Agatha Christie plays shouting "XXXXX dunnit!"? Those stories have been around for years, after all.

    Sigh.
     
  5. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    I know I have. Just recently as a matter of fact.
     
  6. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    By my definition, yes. Whether it's douchey or not shouldn't matter to the definition of what is a spoiler or what material is considered spoilery. It's out, therefore by definition not a spoiler. Not widely known, perhaps, but not a spoiler anymore.

    Doesn't matter, as far as I'm concerned. Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness were both released everywhere other than the US first. Wikipedia had the entire plot for both movies posted within hours (maybe minutes?) of the release of both films anywhere in the world. If I can look it up on Wikipedia, I don't think anyone should consider it a spoiler. Might as well say that the knowledge of Titanic's sinking is a spoiler, too, so that tweenage girls that haven't seen James Cameron's Titanic aren't spoiled on the ending.

    The fact that not everyone could see a film or read a novel immediately shouldn't be part of the definition of what is and what is not a spoiler. It's easier that way. Spoilers before release, not spoilers after release.

    Spoilers used to be for plot details that shouldn't be known before the release of the story. They were for people in the know, and everyone else wasn't supposed to know. Spoilers were classified material, not for public release until a specified date. Now spoilers are anything that someone else doesn't know. Well, then, everything is a spoiler to someone. A six month ban on uncoded spoilers is just as arbitrary as a one day ban or a ten year ban. Where's the data that says that "most everyone" (and what percentage is that?) who "wants" to read the book or see the film will see it in any particular time frame? Show me some statistics! Get some data! Then make a policy.

    No matter what, though, I'd reserve the word spoiler for unreleased material. If you need a new word for released-but-not-widely-distributed-yet plot details, make some other word up and use that. :shrug:

    Yes, go ahead, do it. Again, maybe doing so is douchey, maybe rude, maybe it's even just stupid, but you're not, by my definition, shouting out spoilers.

    Anyway, I don't understand people who don't want to learn something about works they've not experienced yet. I've seen so many "fans" avoid simple things like advertisements for upcoming films and call them "spoilers". That makes absolutely no sense. Officially released announcements and advertisements for media cannot be spoilers, and yet people regularly label things such. Is the knowledge of the mere existence of upcoming media a spoiler, too, then? "Oh, I want to be surprised", people say. Well, better just avoid society then, because you may accidentally learn of the existence of an upcoming story that you may - *gasp* - enjoy! The horror!!
     
  7. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Sure. It might piss some people off, but I would read it right away, and I have a feeling there are probably quite a few other people on here who would too.
    The only reason not to do it is because it might be dangerous for your health. And besides, at this point the kinds of people who would go see an Agatha Christie or Shakespeare movie are the kinds of people who would know the ending already.
    I'm impatient, so I'll admit, I tend to look stuff from stories up as soon as the story details are available. The first thing I did on the release date for STID was look it up on Wikipedia to see who Harrison really was.
     
  8. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ah Shakespeare maybe but eh Agatha Christie is a bad example. Her plot twists are part of the story. She writes fricking mysteries for god sakes. So yes I think it would be really douchey to spoil the ending of one of her books just because they have been out for a long time.

    And no unless you have read them I don't think those endings are common knowledge at this point like "Luke I am Your Father"

    I think if it is a plot twist that isn't part of our pop culture (like the above Star Wars scene) then I wouldn't spoil it, I don't care how long it's been out.

    If it is just some detail in the book or movie well then that is a different story.
     
  9. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    At the end of "The Mousetrap", the cast swears the audience to secrecy.
     
  10. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    ^Why? Is the play so bad that making the audience keep quiet about the ending the only way to ensure others will want to see it?
     
  11. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    It is so you do not ruin things for others. If I had tickets to Mousetrap and someone told me how it ended and spoiled it for me before I saw it, I would be really pissed.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Murder mysteries generally don't work if the audience knows who the killer is beforehand....
     
  13. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    True. And yet I can look up Mousetrap on Wikipedia and learn who "dunnit" without sitting through the play. Will I never go see The Mousetrap now? I still might. Because knowing how it ends is only part of the experience of seeing the play. Surely there is more to a story than the number and type of plot twists it contains.

    Is The Empire Strikes Back unwatchable now that "Luke I am your father" (really "No. I am your father") is a pop culture meme? Does the enjoyment of TESB rest solely on the shocking revelation on Luke and Vader's relationship? Because if that is the case, then how can people ever watch it more than once? How can anything be watched more than once if the story's entertainment value rests only on plot details - "spoilers" - that can't be enjoyed more than once?

    The onus to avoid learning details about unconsumed stories is on the individual seeking to enjoy a story in an "unspoiled" way. It is not the responsibility of the rest of us to protect others from "spoilers".

    But would you still go see it, or would you throw your tickets away in disgust and forfeit the money spent? Were you going for an experience, or were you going to find out who the murderer was?
     
  14. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    If you want to look up the end of a mystery that is your prerogative but that doesn't mean everyone else feels the same. It's not like people are forced to read the Wikipedia article before reading the book or seeing the play.

    I've read a lot of Agatha Christie books and yes it would have ruined my experience if I was spoiled before hand. Because part of the fun of her books is trying to figure out who was the murderer.

    And sure a reader shouldn't go somewhere where they know there is going to be spoilers but out of respect for someone who might not have read the book or watched the movie I don't go posting MAJOR spoilers (like the end of a mystery) without giving a warning. It's about having respect for others.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, that's your individual choice. But that doesn't make it hard to comprehend why the writer or performers of a mystery play, out of all possible genres, would ask their audience not to spoil the ending.

    After all, Wikipedia didn't exist when the play was written. We live in an age where we're inundated with information and have answers at our fingertips, and that changes the way we engage with the world. The current generation often appreciates having instant answers to any question. But mysteries are written by and for people who enjoy the suspense of not knowing and the challenge of deducing an answer rather than just looking it up. Maybe you're not part of that audience, but that audience obviously does exist, or mysteries wouldn't be such a prominent genre.


    No, but it's not a mystery. Not knowing the answers is critical to the mystery genre. It's what the name means!

    Sure, it can be possible to enjoy a mystery if you know the outcome, but most fans of mystery want to be in the dark so they have the chance to figure that out for themselves.
     
  16. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    I'll admit I'm not a fan of the mystery genre. I will watch them on television, but usually only once. The entire genre relies too much on the plot revelation of "whodunnit". The challenge in solving it before or with the characters has its appeal, but I'm a scientist, and already faced with plenty of mysteries in reality. I don't need to consume more mysteries for entertainment purposes. Besides, I find most mysteries tedious and obvious. If on TV, the killer is usually one of the first three people interviewed by the detectives, or the biggest guest star in the episode. Too obvious. I can appreciate a well-crafted mystery, but if The Mousetrap asks me to keep quiet about the solution to the mystery after I leave, does that mean the playwright thought the solution was the only worthwhile part of the play? Are the characters otherwise uninteresting and the plot otherwise pointless?

    I much prefer stories that have what I refer to as "rewatchability" or "re-readability", stories that can be enjoyable more than once. What's the point in collecting a large library of stories (such as I have, and maybe others do) if they're not going to be enjoyed more than once?

    Still, my original position stands. The concept of what constitutes "spoilers" has grown out of control, now encompassing any information about any detail of any story that anyone hasn't learned yet. It's ridiculous. If you don't like being spoiled, fine, but that means it's on you (the general you, not you specifically Christopher) to avoid the spoilers, not on me to help you do so.
     
  17. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I have read some of Christie's books again after obviously knowing the solution to the mystery. Does it ruin my enjoyment of her books because I now know, well not necessarily.

    However when you read something or watch something a 2nd time it's always going to be a different experience than the first time. You are not going to get that first experience ever again and I would rather have my first experience remain unspoiled.

    When you know something you can go back and read (or watch) it again and look at it from a new perspective. However for a first time reader/viewer I want my experience to be entirely fresh. I have been spoiled for things and have not been spoiled for things. And while I can still enjoy something after being spoiled if it is well written I know I would enjoy it far more if I went into it not knowing.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's your opinion. It doesn't entitle you to dismiss the validity of other people's tastes or preferences.


    I agree that many people take spoilerphobia to an unhealthy extreme, but your attitude strikes me as just as unhealthy an extreme in the opposite direction, an attitude of sheer contempt for the feelings of people who don't agree 100 percent with your tastes. As with most things in life, the best approach is to strike a balance between the extremes. Yes, there is certainly such a thing as an unreasonable fear of spoilers, such as not even wanting to know what actors are in a movie or what the title of an upcoming episode is; but there is also a reasonable fear of spoilers, such as not wanting to know in advance what the big secret of a story is, wanting to be allowed the opportunity to discover it with the characters. And no, that doesn't mean the story is worthless without the secret; it means that a good story can be enjoyed on multiple levels, and can be experienced in different ways on different viewings. You can experience the satisfaction of a shocking surprise on the first viewing and then enjoy the other virtues of the story on subsequent viewings. Sometimes, as with a movie like The Sixth Sense, it can be desirable to see it twice, not knowing the secret the first time and knowing the secret the second, because the second time around you can see the hidden meanings and clues you missed before.

    And yes, yes, maybe you personally don't enjoy that, but what does that have to do with other people's right to enjoy stories in that way if that's their choice? You don't have to share a view to respect it. You just have to have basic consideration toward other people.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    What it has to do with other people's rights to enjoy stories in their own way is that I shouldn't have to concern myself with what they have and have not consumed when I post on TrekBBS. I cannot keep track of what has been released and where it has been released and whether or not Poster X has read it or seen it or is even aware of its existence. I will not be held responsible for spoiler coding details because it's not my job to protect other people from the knowledge of the plot of stories. There is no plot detail in the world that is so insignificant that someone won't cry "hey that's a spoiler!" when a detail is mentioned in passing in another thread about a different subject.

    If you want to get technical, then let's see some sales data on the novels. When do the sales trail off? One day after release? One year? When the sales trail off, then I think we could say that the people who can and want to purchase the novel have done so, and that details of the stories can be discussed in the clear. I would prefer a policy based in real data than an arbitrary guess at how long spoiler code should be used in this forum in order to protect readers from themselves.

    Boil it down and my point is yours. Read TrekBBS defensively. You said it yourself, Christopher. Now you are at odds with me over the way I restated your own point? Not to mention that your analysis of my "attitude" is unnecessary. What does your view of my attitude have to do with the discussion?
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The problem is the phrase "I shouldn't have to concern myself." We all should try to concern ourselves with other people's feelings. No, we shouldn't bend over backward to accommodate rabid spoilerphobes, but we shouldn't be completely inconsiderate about it either. Just because some reactions are unreasonable, that's no excuse to say "I'll act however I want and everyone else better stay out of my way."

    Extremes in either direction are unhealthy. The middle ground is what we should aim for. I have little patience for the fanatical spoilerphobes, but I also try to respect more reasonable concerns about spoilers. Because that's just about basic consideration for other human beings. Sure, sometimes you're going to reveal something by accident because you can't be sure who knows what, but that doesn't mean there's no value in trying, in applying some general common-sense guidelines and consideration for other people.
     

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