With massive movies and TV shows becoming global viewing experiences, should there be a waiting period before discussing spoilers? PICTURE: HELEN SLOAN/HBO
With massive movies and TV shows becoming global viewing experiences, should there be a waiting period before discussing spoilers? PICTURE: HELEN SLOAN/HBO

Should there be a waiting period for spoiler discussions?

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Apr 29, 2019

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It's become nearly impossible to go online, and not have the latest episode of your favourite TV show or the latest movie release spoiled as social media has amplified water-cooler moments into global events.

Every week, dodging Game of Thrones spoilers is an acrobatic feat, with some people even going out of their way to actively spam social media users with spoilers before they have watched the episode. Even if you have the foresight to create filters to help you avoid spoilers, people have become so savvy that by creating memes they manage to reveal some of other spoiler.

Avengers: Endgame hit the theatres on Friday, April 26, and the movie has so anticipated that there were leaks about the events a week before it came out. 

Last year, the directors of Avengers: Infinity War, Joe and Anthony Russo, ran a #ThanosDemandsYourSilence campaign to ask moviegoers not to spoil the film of others.

This year, the directors once again pulled a similar move for the Avengers: Endgame with #DontSpoilTheEndgame.

In Hong Kong, one fan was reportedly left bloodied outside a cinema for screaming out Avengers: Endgame spoilers.

Spoiler culture has become a ingrained in internet culture that it has launched a massive discussion and debate about spoiler etiquette. 

Many people weighed on this hot button topic, and didn't hold back in revealing their thoughts: 

Luther de Lange: For Instagram, I follow an account that posts multiple pictures at a time when discussing spoilers for Marvel movies where the first pic is spoiler free, that way they can discuss spoilers and post relevant pics without worry as people have been warned. If other sites can do the same, the issue of timing almost goes away.

Alternatively, I think that the appropriate time for spoilers is at least once the show or movie has been released to DVD or for a week or two as it is finished its initial run and now people should have seen it on two different sources. The time period should be similar for other media, such as games and books as it gives people time to engage unless the game's playtime or book's length is drastically longer than the norm.

Vuyisile Kubeka: Right now, I haven't watched Game of Thrones or Avengers: Endgame and I am swimming in the spoiler juice. With TV shows like Game of Thrones, it is understandable that people tweet about what they are watching and have some sort of communal watching experience with other fans. 

So it's on you to make sure that the show is not spoiled for you. Movies, on the other hand, I'd say two weeks after the release is fair. If you know that you were one of the first people in the universe to experience the movie, the responsibility that comes with that privilege is that you don't mess it up for the rest of us peasant folks waiting for month end!

Daniel Vorster: I think you need to give enough time for one to reasonably assume that the majority of people who want to and are able to see a movie have seen it, so maybe 2-3 weeks?

Kelly Solomon: Hmmm.. This is quite a tough one. For example I'm taking forever to see it [Avengers: Endgame] because there's no cinema in Grahamstown so I have to go to PE. But now that's not anyone else's fault but my own. So my thing is, if people wanna talk about it, that's their prerogative, I just avoid all articles etc. with spoilers..... But if I had to quantify it, I'd say two weeks.

Tamlyn Hendricks: I believe it depends on the content. If it is a movie then perhaps wait a week. Long enough after the box office release when you can be more certain that most people have seen it cause spoilers come in memes and such these days so no one is going to  get your joke if no one really understands it. They're just going to be upset cause it is a spoiler. Regarding TV I think a few days after. Maybe just before the next episode is due to release as then again you can be sure most people have seen it. Immediately is not okay. That is just targeted at incensing people and ruining the things that they love.

Yasmine Jacobs: Avengers, I would give like a two week period after the movie is finished.  Then its fair game.

Chloe Rusovich: I think that a month or two is a reasonable amount of time - I know we live in a fast paced world but also sometimes people don’t have access to things immediately or don’t have time to get to things immediately.

Quinton Bronkhorst: People need to avoid spoilers on their own. If you don't want something spoiled, avoid the places spoilers will be.

Stay off Twitter/Facebook. Mute tags, accounts or whatever. Take responsibility for your own spoiler-free environment, instead of expecting the whole world to adhere to your self-defined standards. 

If something is THAT important to you and THAT spoilerific, then make the effort to see whatever it is as soon as possible. Can't do it? Too bad I guess?

You know Game of Thrones airs on Sunday night, so spoilers will be prolific on Monday. Stay off social media. If you're in an office and can't avoid the chat, put on earphones and don't listen. 

I would say if the majority of your immediate circles (friends, co-workers) have seen the thing and want to talk about the thing, that's fair game. It's completely ridiculous to expect everyone to cater just for you. 

If there's one guy who's seen it and is shouting about it, that guy is an a**hole.

Luke Folb: I don’t think you can really put a general time frame on it because there are movies that I haven’t seen and still definitely am going to see that I wouldn’t want spoiled but understandably the details of those movies are already out there. But perhaps just clear labelling when taking about spoilers and asking someone if they’ve seen the film or series before talking about it keeps everyone out of trouble. I don’t think a real waiting period can even be defined. You really just have to use your own discretion.

Francois Pienaar: For TV shows, with wide circulation through legal means, I feel like you should wait 2 days. If people really want to watch it, they'll watch it by then. For movies, it's more complicated. Not everyone can make it to the cinema in the first week/weekend, so I feel like you need to give them more time to go see it before talking about spoilers. And if you're going to talk about spoilers, you need to give people proper warning and allow them to opt out.

Walter Hayward: Well, some idiots on Twitter and Tumblr don’t even care, but I think around 2 weeks.

Chelsea Tobias: Depends on the scale of the thing - for Endgame I think a week to 2 weeks is fair. For GOT, I think like a day or 2 because you don't need to go to the cinema to see it. Endgame is booked for like weeks at the moment so I think we should give people time to see it before spoiling it. 2 weeks seems fair. A week for movies that aren't Endgame because a cinema is required.

There is no denying that spoilers are a big part of the entertainment viewing experience, sometimes due to time zones, or staggered film releases, or because some people feel the need to ruin the experience for others. 

What remains clear, is that the onus now relies on the viewer to ensure that the preserve try to preserve their own viewing experience as much as possible, given that it is too risky relying on others to do their part. 

When it comes to spoilers, the only person you can trust, is yourself.


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