Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi Is Why I Hate Spoilers

Many of you know that I abhor spoilers.

Would you like to know why?

Let's head back to the halcyon days of 1983.

Many of you youngsters with your Twitter and your IMDb and Newsarama and leaked scripts and teasers for teaser trailers may not be able to fathom these times. We didn't get instant updates on every piece of casting, or breathless transmission of every rumor in nanoseconds. You wanted news and speculation on sci-fi movies? You had to wait a month for the next issue of Starlog!!

Yes, we were pathetic.

But now try to place yourself in the position we were in, without hindsight. 3 years earlier, we had an unproven claim by Darth Vader that he was Luke's father. We had the mysterious assertion by Yoda that "there is another."

And we had to live with that lack of knowledge for Three. Long. Years. No internet back then, so you could only discuss it with nerdy friends and disinterested relative. Was Vader lying? If not, why did Obi-Wan lie? Who is "another"? Another what?!? Aaaaggghhhhh!!!

And as the suspense built unbearably, as Return Of The Jedi's release approached, it happened.

Right after the press previews, a few days before the film's release...the local rag, the Kalamazoo Gazette, runs a story on the front page of Section B, the entertainment section. The mists of time have obscured whether this was their own critic, or just a syndicated piece they ran.

But right there, with no way to miss it, days before the movie opened, plastered in a huge headline:


(And the sub-headline, right below it?


Fuck you, Kalamazoo Gazette. Fuck you straight to hell. 32 1/2 years later, fuck you.

And hence, my aversion to spoilers.

Now, that in and of itself didn't ruin Return Of The Jedi for me. But it sure didn't help that the mystery, the speculation, that had been building up for over over a thousand days was dismissed by some jerks (let's make sure we include the editor(s) in this, after all) who...what? Wanted to increase circulation? (But it was in one of the interior sections!)? To show off because they had knowledge no one else had? Because they had no respect for the intentions of filmmakers, who thought the mystery and surprise were important for their movie?

Of course, it's so much worse in the modern world. People will spoil for clickbait headlines (I'm looking at you, Newsarama). Casting news, preceded by unceasing coverage of casting rumors, is spit out by the internet instantly, almost before the ink can be dry on any contracts, and the publicity machines can't help themselves from revealing who is a villain, who's an alien, whatever. Well-meaning folks, in their exuberant enjoyment (or their narcissistic need to express every thought instantly...), can't resist live-tweeting every single plot development, every line of dialogue and every surprise revelation to the world before 75% of the viewers have a chance to see it. And, well, there are some jerks who find pleasure in boasting about forbidden knowledge, and others who find glee in ruining things.

I've learned to adjust. I know when to get off Twitter, or what accounts to mute (or even unfollow), for the most part. I know what sites to avoid. I've become deft at skimming just enough to set off my spider-sense, and bookmark something to come back to later. Oh, I still get spoiled occasionally...and I hate it...but that's the world we live in.

I know some people don't mind spoilers, and more power to them. But we should have a choice, right? It shouldn't be blared out where we can't avoid it--because that takes the choice away from us.

Me, I believe that if creators wanted a surprise to be a part of their art, we owe it to them to receive it in that fashion if we're going to do a fair evaluation, and enjoy it the way the they intended. There's plenty of time later to go back and re-watch/re-read after we've experienced it just one time through the veil of ignorance. If you knew the plot twist in Psycho before watching it for the first time, for example, well, it's still a helluva movie...but you're not experiencing the way Hitchcock wanted you to, and you can't fully appreciate the subversion of the genre's conventions, etc. Spoilers are just second-guessing the creators about the best way to appreciate their work. I'm not that wise.

So, yeah, I hate spoilers.

And you know what? There's not one time that I discuss or think about Star Wars--not one single time--that I don't find myself wishing that I could have just once have seen ROTJ without knowing ahead of time the Leia was Luke's sister.

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