The landscape of cinema has changed immensely since the rise of Netflix and Twitter. Films are out to watch at your own pace and leisure and you can now tell anyone your opinion, not just those you know you know at work. But with this, the etiquette of spoiler talk has seemingly gone out the window. This past week has seen 2 big budget films (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Cats) reviewed, released and, subsequently, spoiled before general audiences have even had a chance to see it. Just look below, Star Wars was still hours away from release and there’s a spoiler warning above this article. Why on earth is it acceptable to not only spoil films so early, but why are sites promoting these tweets? I have some theories beyond the idea that people just suck (which they do).
There seems to be one main trend when it comes to spoilers being revealed, the person’s opinion of said film. Take Venom for example; When a comic book film is released, there’s usually a pretty good understanding from everyone not to spoil things as, let’s be honest, they’re the biggest thing around. However, when Venom came out with a trend of 1/2 stars, people seemed to think that this made it fair game to openly discredit the film online. I saw Venom one day after its release and knew about three specific scenes going in. Now don’t get me wrong, Venom has its issues, but I thought it was kinda enjoyable watching Tom Hardy go beserk talking to himself. Even if I had hated it, it doesn’t give me free reign to post spoilers for anyone to see. And that’s the kicker, people now think it’s fine to post spoilers whilst moaning about a film because “Hey, I didn’t like it, so neither will you so this doesn’t matter.” It does, everyone’s opinion is their own and seeing a film, knowing as little or as much beforehand should be their choice. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Cats releasing to disappointing reviews and causing people to walk on eggshells online to avoid spoilers completely back this up. Still not convinced? 1917 and Little Women were seen by critics months ago and you’ll struggle to find people actively spoiling parts of them as the reviews are staggeringly overwhelming. People seem to forget that their opinions don’t match everyone else’s.
The worst part is, it’s not just random people online; certain critics are guilty of this too. Obviously most hold themselves with high esteem, but some don’t. Seeing films early and being invited to a press screenings is a privilege, not a given right. If we don’t include Star Wars and Cats, you sadly haven’t got to look back too far to when this happened recently. When a few critics gave away a pivitol moment in Last Christmas, it really wasn’t surprising to discover that they didn’t care for the film. Emma Thompson and others were very angry about this whole ordeal and rightly so. Imagine dedicating a good chunk of your life working on a film only for a few people who are invited to see it early, ruin any sense of surprise others could’ve got out of it because they didn’t enjoy it. I was unfortunate enough to discover this moment and even though I wasn’t overly impressed by , it would’ve been nice to not have this moment ruined and arguably it took some enjoyment out of my viewing experience.
While negativity fuels spoiler talk and a lack of sympathy towards those it affects, it’s also people who love films that the finger needs pointing at. Netflix gives viewers the opportunity to relive their favourite moments with the click of a button, traditional cinema releases don’t. This means that when some fans really love a film and it’s not just a rewatch away in their bedroom, they have to resort to other means to get their fix. When I came out of Joker, I was shocked to see one of the top tweets was a video (not a tweet, A VIDEO) of a pivotal scene in the final act. The boundaries of spoilerific discussions have not only broken down, but it’s made illegal recording of films something that’s not as frowned upon anymore. Netflix has helped so many films get a wider release than they ever could’ve imagined ten years ago. However, it’s also made some viewers unwilling to go back to the big screen over and over again. When quality content is available at home, why should they have to pay to see something again when they can just find it online? It’s a terrible mindset to have, but we all know it to be all to true in some people’s eyes.
Whether someone’s opinion on a film is good or bad, we haven’t even got into the decade’s biggest rise of spoiling films – memes. Yes, memes have become an all to common reason for certain scenes to be ruined. People were quick to tell others not to ruin Avengers: Infinity War, but once they found the “Mr Stark, I don’t feel so good” line as a funny joke; it got passed around before the release weekend was up. “Spoilers without context” is another one people love to throw around, thinking they’re being smart. Guess what? Spoilers without context are still spoilers. A simple image can stay in your mind before the film and start to make scenes come together before they do. And while not a film, even The Mandolorian lasted around 24 hours before it’s surprise character was turned into the meme that’s taken over most of social media. Now look, I’m of the generation that grew up on memes, they’re great. The problem is they’re usually created by those who aren’t as caring about preserving the magic of cinema as many film fans are.
Some will say there is a simple answer – don’t go online. I shouldn’t have to avoid going on a sites I enjoy because of a few bad eggs. Even if I mute words to do with upcoming films, it’s a step I shouldn’t be taking. When is it okay to openly discuss spoilers? Honestly, thanks to the ever changing landscape of cinema, there’s no right answer. There’s plenty of wrong ones however. Opening weekend, opening day and, it really shouldn’t have to be said but before general release are all no no’s.