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Enough Spoiling Major Moments In TV Shows For Everyone: A Memoir

“Stark Raving Fan” is a column about one man’s love for all things involving popular culture – television, movies, and all facets of pop culture from here to there. Of course, it’s not the kind of love that unites a group of people like a bunch of hippies. More like the kind of love someone has when they’ve blown a gasket and have something to say. After all, aren’t we all just driven mad by fanaticism sometimes?

Yes, there’s a good reason you’re hearing “NO!” yelled by Luke Skywalker in your head right now. Ladies and gentlemen, I can’t believe we actually need to have this conversation years and years later but – has no one ever heard of a spoiler alert? No one at all?!

Allow me to explain what made my inner nerd go into full-on rage mode early in the morning, muscles screaming from job numero dos and my ability to remain awake on cruise control, a half-empty can of Monster Rehab trying to wake me up but failing miserably.. Conversation is going on all around me as the office I work at full-time opened this morning, various co-workers huddled around their desks discussing occurrences over the weekend from their respective lives. “Think Carson Wentz is done for the season? He’s gotta be.” “I just started my Christmas shopping this weekend. I know, I kknnooww, I’m behind!” “I didn’t get to bed till like 11 last night, I just couldn’t sleep at all. Now I’m exhausted today, ugh, can I go home?”

But then, as expected, the topic shifted to last night’s The Walking Dead.

Time to call out the biggest violation of them all, the granddaddy that no fan desires to be caught in among any gathering of people anywhere. Folks, if you’ve watched a television show or a movie and you blurt out the biggest spoiler of any given production to all to people you know – and you’re aware he or she may be behind on what they watch in their free time? Well -and there’s no tip-toeing around it – you’re a complete and total ignoramus.

I sat here, still trying to disperse the fog in my noggin as I was still waking up over two-and-a-half hours post-alarm, when my ears pricked up. The topic had shifted to our favorite genre show on terrestrial television and my office, at least in our tiny corner, was abuzz about the latest happenings. I stayed up late to watch the show but watched it in a literal zombie state, my sanity paying the price for losing out on extra sleep. I knew if I missed the midseason finale, I would regret it. I can sleep another day. Someday anyway.

But when someone blurted – sorry, that’s poor word choice, more like shouted – the stinger at the end of the episode, I began to see red and felt my head snap to the person’s general direction.

The conversation began because one person missed last night’s jaw-dropping season finale. (For some of you, I get it, you no longer care and have moved on. For the rest of us, the tension loomed around every corner of that episode till the very end.) All that someone wanted to know is if the big reveal was worth the wait. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but if someone asks for my opinion about a television show or movie I’ve recently viewed, I’m not touching spoiler territory. I’ll give a quick reply but I would expect people to watch said production when he or she has time.

The other person who was asked what was missed, I’ll call them Spoiler Sport, a smile damn about curled on their lips. That’s the first warning sign for someone who is a bit too eager to spill the beans. And, instead of a dull hushed whisper, the first couple of words came out more like a shout across a wide open space. So when Spoiler Sport purposefully blurted “OHYEAHSEEWHATHAPPENEDWAS…” and then actually exclaimed what precisely went down, ah, no. Nnooppee. My brow furrowed and my head turned so fast I could have suffered whiplash.

Ah, but that wasn’t even the worst. Though the A-B conversation was unfolding in one corner, more ears came to attention in a snap. No one could ‘C’ their way out the discussion. Suddenly, a handful of people became part of the reveal. Then others who had seen the midseason finale began to openly carry on conversation, spoilers spilling out like a tipped-over trashcan, people who are behind on the show having their expectations dashed before their eyes. Chaos ensued and all I could exclaim was the word “BENDITO!” as I felt my inner nerd raged on like a burning blaze destroying a countryside.

Now – okay. How did we survive as a nation 10, 20 years ago? Oh, that’s easy, I know how. WE WERE FORCED TO WATCH THE SHOWS LIVE. These days, there are so many different ways to watch a show, if not live then on delay. On-demand. DVR. Showbox. Hulu. Torrent. (Not for long – so long, net neutrality!) There’s too many ways to indulge these days, especially with cord cutting becoming a popular cost-cutting measure. Not everyone can watch their favorite shows live anymore. Me personally, I can only ever watch Supernatural same day live, forcing me to catch up via DVR on my phone or curled up on the couch. Sure, I can never be fully caught up on the shows I watch. I’ve already given up on Designated Survivor and The Flash until January, when I need shows to watch during winter break.

Times have changed, and so must we. One thing for certain though – the spoiling of a new episode when most audiences watch on delay? To paraphrase Negan, we need to shut that shite down. And now.

Now, what on God’s formerly green Earth would allow people to think spoiling a television show is okay is beyond my comprehension. What, you mean people can’t be patient for just a little bit? You can’t wait? Got ants in your pants that are nipping on your hide? Just hit pause, take a deep breath, and wait. The waiting may be the hardest part but least once you can initiate a conversation on a topic, you’ll feel relieved you held out for the right time and place.

There’s more than just sitting in a breakroom – or, worse yet, an open desk area for scores of people to hear – that can totally ruin a show people have yet to view. There’s a holy host of other ways you’re violating the unwritten rule. Taking to Facebook to let your fingers do the talking, knowing full well your friends may be missing an episode because, hell, life happens? That’s a violation. Marching off to Twitter and sending off a series of blistering tweets, forgetting that a segment of your friends may be a bit behind in their watch list? That’s a violation. Asking a co-worker if they saw last night’s episode – then casually advising them of the big reveal with not a single care in the world? Oh, that is absolutely a violation.

Oh, but people by themselves aren’t the problem. Entertainment pages don’t help their cause with linking posts on any social media medium. To go as far as advising spoiler warnings in the beginning of a post – but then your preview image spoils everything anyway? What’s the point of even going to great lengths to keep a secret so hush-hush? What, for clicks and likes? Now, not every site is getting a finger wag from me this morning, but in a matter of five minutes I saw at least three entertainment pages spoil The Walking Dead’s big shocker in their preview image. And the issue just isn’t with The Walking Dead, uh uh, every other genre show is easily spoiled all the time too! For example, the recent DC crossover event on the CW? I’m sure glad I was caught up on all of those shows to find out what happened as the big shocking reveal in the grand finale.

Ohhhhhhhhh, wait. I’m sorry. I forgot. The big death from that event series was ruined in the preview image!

I’m just like the rest of you. We all want to talk about what happened last night. I mean, this past Friday morning, I was buzzing after a strong midseason finale from Supernatural. Did I approach my co-workers between both jobs, my mouth on auto-pilot and already agape as I began dissecting the previous evening’s episode? Absolutely not! There’s one principle those of you with loose lips could learn. You ready? Get your pen and paper. Repeat after me. Always ask, “Hey did you see (insert show here) last night?”

That’s all you need to do! You get either a yes or no answer. Then, from there, the conversation can go one way or another. If they’ve seen the episode, great, stay nerdy my friends and get to talking then! Discuss every last detail but in a respectfully low tone as to not ruin the episode for others. But – and this is a big and easy piece of advice – if the person says no, then just explain why they should get to binging then. Don’t give away a damn factoid. Not a single spoiler. Then move on about your day, pin the conversation for another time, and circle back around to your co-worker or friend once they’ve completed watching the installment.

The concept ain’t hard, loyal readers. Otherwise, what you get for being like Spoiler Sport is drawing the ire of an entire office full of folk who may or may not be fully happy with you. Can you imagine being that person who goes to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi this Thursday, only to walk in with a staggering swagger Friday morning and proceed to ruin that movie for everyone around you? Now, I’m not opposed to a mob dragging a loudmouth down and hanging them from the ceiling by their toes but, in the event someone dares to ruin a movie like The Last Jedi for me, I wouldn’t be opposed to torture. Not one bit, especially when I’ve attempted to avoid every spoiler possible for all of this year.

Hell, the whole crux of the latest Star Wars movie’s marketing? To avoid spoilers at all costs by showing quick scenes that make absolutely no sense. At least Lucasfilm understands the great lengths we fans go to avoid spoilers!

So, the next time you’ve seen your favorite show or movie, strolling into work the next morning with a big cup of joe in one hand and a smile plastered on your face, just remember this – be respectful of those around you. The amount of people who cut the cord from cable is growing, limiting how fast the masses can watch their favorite shows. Your cherished water cooler topics need to remain tempered. I’ve given you my two cents. I’m not responsible for you opt to disregard my warnings and spoil as big a news nugget like last night’s The Walking Dead. If you’re already concerned what people think of you now – imagine what people will think of you after you begin to shout spoilers.

And if someone still doesn’t get the point? There’s no foul for telling them to shut up (in any connotation of the term) before any bad fan crosses into spoiler territory. Just remember what I’ve said, Fan Fest family. That’s all I – and every other die-hard fan of any television show and movie the world over – ask of you.  Until next time you keep reading them and I’ll keep writing them.

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Jerrold Reber

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Jerrold spent his childhood in southeastern Pennsylvania ingesting far too many TV shows and movies, thus creating a stark-raving mad geek. He’s a movie aficionado, binge-watches Netflix, and is a total TV junkie. His addiction has led to an unhealthy and rabid obsession of various geek pantheons – Star Trek, Star Wars, both DC *AND* Marvel, cult 80's and 90's television, Supernatural, The X-Files, Doctor Who, and, and...holy overload. He's still waiting to run away in a 1967 Impala or a a blue police box.