Thursday, November 05, 2009

The curiosity of spoilers

Warning: No real spoilers ahead unless you never finished season 2 of Alias.

Today I was reading stuff online and clicked on a link for a discussion about Ultimate Fighter. It should come as no surprise that I LOVE Ultimate Fighter, but I can't usually watch it until Thursday or Friday because I refuse to watch it without The Beefcake. Then today I forgot I hadn't watched the most recent episode and the very first sentence of the link I clicked gave me the winner. I cried out and closed the window, but it was too late.

Then again, maybe I can look really smart when we watch the show by pretending to guess what's about to happen.

Anyhow, it's just so interesting to me the sense of dismay you get when you get spoiled on the ending of any story. Today I started All Quiet on the Western Front with my 10th graders and one kid flipped to the end of the book and found out the fate of our narrator. I immediately fretted that he would reveal the ending to the rest of the class. Hell I probably would have tackled him to the ground to shut him up. Fortunately he kept his mouth shut, and the rest of the students resisted the urge to look at the ending first.

And yet when I was a kid, I always read the last page before I finished the book because I was too impatient to find out what was going to happen.

That's funny, right? It's such an interesting element of the human personality that we hate knowing the ending. We want that journey in a linear fashion, we want to earn the reveal at the end. A book almost isn't worth reading if you already know what happens.

But then you look at the latest trend in TV storytelling, one popularized by Alias, where we see a scene from the end before we see how we got there. That works too, sometimes, although often I've wished they just allowed the story to flow in chronological order so I didn't know what was coming.

Except I did love that shit when they did it on Alias, I guess because the scene they spoiled made me more curious instead of disappointed, especially the best episode that show ever had besides the pilot - the one where they brought down SD-6.

I was so into that shit and so excited about finding out what was going to happen, and yet I have that season on DVD and sometimes rewatch that episode even though I know how it's going to end. But then you have a show like Lost, which I also own on DVD and yet never watch because I already know how each episode ends. I don't know why even though I love both shows, I'll rewatch Alias but not Lost.

I just love that about people. We will go to many lengths to avoid spoilers and we get downright pissed if someone doesn't respect that voluntary secrecy, but we also like to rewatch stories we love, even to the point where we have them memorized. It's bizarre.

I don't really have a point, just an observation.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post! I agree completely.

    Something else I've noticed. We like to relive those stories through other people. You don't like to re-watch Lost. But what about re-watching it with someone who's never seen it? I love doing that. It's like I get to re-experience the emotions fresh, though them.


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