Picture the scene. You’ve just got back from a long day at work. You sit down and put the TV on. You go through the regular ads of Money Supermarket, Go Compare, EE, Virgin Media and Fabb Sofas. Just as your attention starts to waver you notice the next ad is actually a film trailer. You start watching and it’s good. It actually looks like something you would go to see! You sit up, pay attention. Check out the CGI! I love that actor! All is going well, except, the trailer doesn’t end, it keeps going. By the time it does end its been on for a good few minutes and in that time you’ve changed your mind. It looked good, but the trailer lasted so long you feel like you’ve seen the beginning, middle and end. Thanks, I no longer need to go to the cinema! Let’s be honest, a night at the cinema is not a cheap night. Unless you go on an Orange Wednesday, sorry, EE Wednesday (does this even exist anymore?!) By the time you’ve covered off petrol, parking, 3D specs (optional!), cinema snacks and the obligatory take away (who wants to cook at gone 8pm?!) it’s an expensive night. Hopefully the film was worth it!
Then there are the times when we end up inadvertently wrecking the plot for someone. I was in the hairdressers last week and the following conversation with the hairdresser and one of her clients went like this;
“Have you caught up with the latest season of The Walking Dead?” The client.
“No, no. the boys have cained it, we’ve still got to catch up.” The hairdresser.
“Which bit are you up to?”
“Oh I don’t know. It’s been several weeks since we’ve had a chance to watch it.”
“Are you up to the bit when [Insert spoiler] happens?”
“Oh! Um, ok. How about when [Insert spoiler] took place?”
“Yes, yes, several episodes on from that!”
You see where I’m headed, don’t you? The spoiler has been planted. Now the hairdresser’s aware that whatever was revealed is going to happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for the next series of Game of Thrones. I will be straight on Youtube the next day (I don’t have Sky Atlantic) to see what happens and I know this is a spoiler, even if it is of my own making, but I chose to do this. Really its because I’m the most impatient person on the planet and I can’t wait to find out, but I don’t want anyone to tell me!
When I worked in London and my flatmate got herself a job in a newsagent, she came home one evening really sad and despondent. I asked her what was wrong. “Yvonne dies in Bad Girls.” She told me. I was none to impressed with this spoiler.
“Thanks a lot!” I reprimanded.
“I couldn’t avoid it; ‘Who kills Yvonne’ was plastered all over the front cover of all the TV mags!” She grimly told me. Oh dear!
An average magazine cover of spoilers
Even books are not immune. Sometimes the back cover can give too much away like the film trailers; “He was the perfect guy, or was he?!” Well, of course obviously not if you’re going to use that language! Why can’t we just have a one liner and a genre, then leave it at that. It’s great when you stumble on something you know nothing about. There are no expectations, no waiting for the crux of the story you read about to happen, every event is new and unexpected.
Do you remember when Richard & Judy first started up their book club on Channel 4? It was great, wasn’t it? It made reading for the masses cool again. The best part for me was how it forced me out of just reading my prefered genres and made me open to other genres I’d previously not been so keen on.
I remember the year Victoria Hislop’s The Island was on Richard & Judy’s list. I picked the book up, read the back blurb. A book about a leper colony, that’ll be depressing, I thought to myself. I was undecided for a few minutes. I’m sorry, but I like my holiday reading to be light, and this sounded the opposite. But I bought it, read it, and it became my favourite book of the year. And you know what; it wasn’t depressing. There are sad parts of course, but most well written stories have that. It was actually very uplifting. The irony of knowing mainland Greece is under Nazi control, but no Nazi is going to invade Spinalonga so the residents of the island get to enjoy a very different war, was a surprising touch.
So Richard and Judy certainly helped here. Suddenly everyone was starting a book club, and we all went rushing out to buy the books mentioned on the show and to read them before they were reviewed by Richard, Judy and whoever the guest stars were. We even got the author telling us about the inspiration and the setting for the book. These were the moments my attention were solely focused on the TV. I went out and bought all the books, ordered them and read them as per the ordering of the show. I made sure I read and finished each one beforehand. The one time I had not quite finished one of the books and decided it was fine to watch Richard & Judy, disaster struck! The review was going well, everyone liked the book, then Richard made a massive error.
“I’m not giving anything away here, but the bit at the end when he dies, I did not see that coming!”
Thanks Richard, how was that not giving anything away?! Suddenly I was not in such a rush to finish the book. I’d read three hundred pages wanting to know if the guy got the girl, only to find out he died instead. It would have been the same as getting near the end of War & Peace. It’s all going well. Then a friend tells you it ends with them all miserable (which it does), and you feel cheated as a result.
I think the main reason reading is a solo, private, intimate hobby is so no one can ruin it for us while we are reading. After is fair game, if you thought the protagonist was a bit too weak, or the final twist was a bit vague, or far fetched, but not while you’re reading. Save me from the spoilers! Are you with me on this?