We tend to think of spoilers as an absolute no-no while watching movies or television shows or anything of the like. I'm sure most of us can remember the craze over Avengers: Endgame when it first came out, with people screaming "Please no spoilers! Please!" every other minute.
Our avoidance of spoilers is a near-universal experience at this point. Most of us try so hard to avoid spoilers for the shows and movies we have dedicated ourselves to watching, believing that finding out the plot beforehand will completely ruin the experience. But are spoilers seriously as bad as we make them out to be? I don't think so.
Spoilers Can Be Helpful
I know this probably sounds crazy, but hear me out. Yes, it can be irritating when people attempt to scream spoilers in your ear after you've just told them to not say anything about the plot. I can sympathize with that feeling.
But spoilers can be good for us sometimes. They can make watching movies and TV shows a more pleasant experience, as contradictory as that may sound.
Spoilers keep us informed about whatever we're planning on watching. When I'm scrolling online in search of a new movie or TV show to binge-watch, most of the time, I'm looking for a very specific kind of content. Sometimes I want to have a good long cry.
Sometimes I just want to feel better. It can be an enormous let-down to start watching a movie or show that looks cheerful and lighthearted, only to find out at the very end that the main character dies a horrible death—and this is coming from personal experience. Sure, it might still be good, but it's just not what I was looking for at the moment. I don't want to invest so much time in a show only to find out that my favorite character dies in Season 8 or that they turn into such an annoying person that I have to take a six-month break before watching it again just to avoid feeling so betrayed (Gilmore Girls, anyone?)
The point is, spoilers save us from going through that enormous hassle. Because of this, I often read plot summaries of movies or TV shows before I start them—as a little spoiler to myself. It's not so much that it ruins the entire plot of the movie—I just want to know the general plot points so I am not left feeling completely deceived at the end.
Reading these spoilers allows us to easily decide what we want to watch, without wasting our time on things we won't end up liking as much as we expected. We can skim the summaries, learn a bit about the characters, then decide if we want to start watching it or not! It's a win-win for everyone.
Plot Is Not Everything
One main issue with spoilers is that it gives away the major plot points of a story before you are able to witness it yourself. People often don't want to know if a character is going to live or die until it's played out on the big screen, because they feel like it will take away from the dramatic impact. But something we have failed to realize is that plot is not everything.
Plot is not what makes a movie good. It's definitely not what makes a movie so amazing you proclaim to everyone you know that you'd give anything to watch it again for the first time.
Without a good plot, it's true that a movie or TV show will likely die out. But for most of us, it's the acting, the character arcs, the little tiny details that we don't consciously notice while watching that are so, so important to whether we end up enjoying it. None of that can be experienced through spoilers.
None of that can be experienced through someone telling you, "Oh yeah, Iron Man dies at the end of Endgame" (Sorry! In my defense, the movie has been out for five years.) Sure, plot twists can involve a huge shock factor that impacts the experience of watching a film, but those are only impactful for the five or ten seconds when the shock is sinking in. They don't last the way good characters do, the way good storytelling does. We wouldn't care about any of these plot twists if we didn't care so much more about the characters and the moments leading up to them.
That's the problem with our current lens that focuses so intensely on avoiding spoilers on plot twists. There is so much more work that goes into creating a fantastic movie or TV show that simply cannot be grasped just by reading or hearing a spoiler. Movies and TV shows are made to be watched, to be experienced, to be enjoyed.
Knowing a tiny little plot point before the show, in reality, just gives you a little head start from everyone else watching it with you. It's not a bad thing. It most certainly won't ruin your entire experience—believing that is just a result of our current fascination with plot devices over almost everything else involved in the details of a good story.
And so, continue avoiding spoilers if you wish—if you genuinely cannot bear to know the details of a plot before watching it yourself. But know that maybe, just maybe, spoilers aren't as bad as you think they are. They can be helpful to you in times when you just want to watch a cheerful little movie with no drama and no deaths involved whatsoever. And remember to focus on the other things that make our most beloved movies and TV shows so great, beyond the dramatic plot twists that we love to gossip about so very much.