What's the Statute of Limitations on SPOILER ALERTs

This morning as I scanned through all the Facebook status updates I'd missed since going to bed at 8:30 PM, I discovered sitting there, unassuming, nestled between somebody's baby dressed as Rudolph and a complaint about the Metra, the ENDING OF THE SECOND SEASON OF BOARDWALK EMPIRE all spelled out-like.

No SPOILER ALERT, no apologies, just "Here's what happened on that show you weren't able to watch yet that aired just a few minutes ago."

I think we can all agree that it's not OK to post spoilers on Facebook or Twitter immediately after the show airs (at least not without a gigantic WARNING posted before it).

But how soon is too soon to casually mention spoilers without first warning someone?  Can I talk about how (OMG HUGE SPOILER COMING UP RIGHT NOW) Ned Stark was about a foot shorter at the end of Season 1 of Game of Thrones than he was at the beginning?  Is it OK to talk about the end of The Sopranos willy-nilly?  What about The Sixth Sense?  Citizen Kane?

What SPOILER code do you live by?

Filed under: News & Views, TV

Tags: movies, SPOILER ALERT, TV


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  • There is no statue of limitations. Imagine how badly it'd suck to be a teenager or newbie watching Citizen Kane for the first time & someone tells you the ending. Or The Usual Suspects. Or, more recently, The Departed. People have all sorts of reasons for not watching immediately after the show/movie come out.

    My friends all knew I hadn't seen The Sixth Sense yet. It'd been several months, but it was understood - clearly & under no uncertain terms - that I was planning on watching it. When they'd discuss it, I'd walk out of the room & sing to myself across the apartment. Then, one day, out it came: The Twist. Movie. Was. Absolutely. Ruined. for me.

    I follow this rule: When discussing a movie (secret twist, surprise ending or not), I always ask, "Have you seen it yet?" If not, I then ask, "Are you planning on watching it, because I may talk about spoilers?" That way the person who hasn't seen it is given the choice.

    My other problem is with media & their treatment of spoiler alerts. This past Thursday morning, there on EW's Twitter page, was the headline, something like, "What'd you think of the big [redacted] reveal on American Horror Story last night?" Even though the body of the article said SPOILER ALERT, it basically gave enough of a HUGE hint in the title that it gave away the secret.

    Also, SPOILER ALERT ... all caps, bold if you can, & for God's sake, don't have the spoiler be the very next sentence or words. We read quickly & skimmingly & broadly. SPOILER ALERT at the heading of the article.

    There is a special level of Hell reserved for people who ruin movies/shows for others.

  • In reply to MissNiki:

    That is such a good point that special consideration should be given to young people who may or may not have had time to see Citizen Cane or whatever.

    I like your policy of asking a person before jumping into discussing a show or movie. That's super polite, and I approve.

    Entertainment Weekly sucks at Spoiler Alerts. A week after Game of Thrones ended, they included a huge picture in the magazine that gave the ending away. Not cool.

  • If it is a show you invested time and emotion in to follow - especially so much so as to run to facebook to exude your feelings about the finale IMMEDIATELY - you ALWAYS have to use a spoiler alert. Plus, if you were so excited about it, why would you want to ruin it for someone else?

    Alerts are unnecessary for casual shows that don't require that much investment. Like Friends. Or Seinfeld. The morning news probably ruined that for you a decade ago.

    But shows you make a commitment to? Spoiler alert required.

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