came out this weekend and Game of Thrones
is halfway through its final season, so spoilers are having a bit of a cultural moment. On one side, we have die-hard fans who have been engaging with these franchises for years and don’t want to learn how they end from an offhand tweet. On the other, a sort of ultra-jaded group of critics who think that caring about spoilers is childish, or missing the point, or a sign that the media being spoiled is bad, actually.
The arguments in favor of spoilers go like this:
Caring about spoilers is childish.
Isn’t caring about anything, then? I generally fall on the side of the ultra-jaded, having long ago ceded any sense of childlike wonder to the gnawing machine of the Internet, but in this case (and ONLY this case) I really have to ask everyone to let people enjoy things
How a movie ends isn’t the point; it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
It’s hard to argue that this isn’t true; I don’t think that my favorite part of any story is necessarily its ending — but I can definitely tell you about all of the books whose rushed, confusing, or unearned endings ruined the story for me. I can see how the journey has made up an entire decade of the MCU and learning what happens at the end of a single film won’t ruin the whole experience, but 10 years of engagement seems like a really good argument for seeing the end or the story as told by its creators instead of as summarized by some random on the Internet.
If a spoiler ruins the movie for you, it wasn’t a good movie to begin with.
The argument goes that people rewatch their favorite films and reread their favorite books all of the time, despite those stories having been "spoiled" by the first viewing, and so if learning a spoiler ruins a movie for someone, that movie must have been boring and poorly made to begin with. This honestly seems to be a bit intentionally obtuse. I’ve reread House of Leaves
about a dozen times and they’ve all been different experiences — because I bring different experiences with me to the book, because I read differently at different times, because not rushing towards an end that I’m already familiar with allows me to pay more attention to the details along the way. Knowing the ending doesn’t ruin the book, but it does fundamentally change the reading experience.
A lot of these arguments are an understandable backlash to the pathological extents to which Marvel has gone to prevent any Endgame
details from leaking to the public. Reportedly, even the actors weren’t given the entire script and filmed many of their scenes alone
. I do not want to seem like I think that’s a good idea, because I think it’s a ludicrous way to tell a story and I’m genuinely concerned about how it’s going to come across on screen. I think that there is a lot of valid criticism to be leveled at the filmmakers
who, aside from fighting a clearly losing battle against spoilers, come across as precious and self-important here. I mean, it’s a superhero movie, not the Gold Codes.
Still, if I think that the Endgame
filmmakers are being fairly absurd, it makes sense that they want to protect the story that they’re telling — and that they want to protect their fans’ experience of that story. I think that the spoiler conversation is actually about different ways to enjoy art. There may only be seven stories in the world
, but there are billions of people — and billions of ways — to tell them. There is a value in experiencing a story in the specific way that an artist wants to share it, and that means seeing how they bring their story to an end, too. This is, after all, one of the primary ways that art differs from life: all of our stories have the same ending, but the endings for a fictional story are infinite. Finding out that ending might not be the whole
point, but it does show us an awful lot about what kind of story a writer thinks they’re telling.
It’s natural that fans want to find out the end of a story at — well, the end of the story. And there are a lot of books and movies that explore and upend our expectations of narrative! The Marvel movies, though, are really not a treatise on the nature of storytelling. It’s okay for things to just be a good time, and if that means not talking spoilers around people who haven’t seen them yet, that doesn’t really seem so
÷ ÷ ÷
is a bookseller at Powell's and she doesn't want to see any spoilers, please.