The Unhealthy Obsession With Spoilers
The internet seemed to go dark last week as the world tried its hardest to walk into theatres and see ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ with fresh and unknowing eyes. My Twitter feed was essentially nothing but goodbyes as each person either left social media (temporarily, of course) or blocked all words and phrases that might possibly mention a certain “War of Stars”.
I understand the desire to experience a cultural phenomenon without knowing a single detail, but I’m not sure I agree with it — and in the end, I wonder if people lose out by subscribing to it.
Undoubtably, there are certain moments in cinematic history that I’m thankful I knew nothing about beforehand. ‘The Prestige’ comes to mind, as a film with an ending so perfectly twisty that the first and second viewings felt like completely different experiences. This seems to be the exception that proves the rule, though, because on average I don’t watch movies to be surprised, I watch movies to be engaged.
I remember hearing multiple warnings to stop watching ‘Prometheus’ trailers as they showed too much detail. In retrospect, the film is better when you give it as much backstory and outside knowledge as possible. We’re doing the same thing for ‘Batman v. Superman’ right now. I wonder how different the experience will be for those who know the plot, and those who don’t. Advance knowledge about a film shouldn’t ruin the experience, because the experience should be about more than that in the first place.
To go back to the original ‘Star Wars’, does knowing that Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star make the experience any less powerful? If you stopped reading that sentence at the word “Luke”, maybe you think it does — but for me, it doesn’t.
And it can’t.
Because the film is about something bigger, and the moment is about something more than a “does he or doesn’t he” risk. It’s about victory over darkness, and submission to intuition and spirit over logic.
Knowing that doesn’t matter. Seeing and experiencing it does.