The Appeal of Spoilers

Why spoilers are so tempting to know.

“SPOILER ALERT”, are two mystical words that when flashing upon your screen, can ruin your day. They also have the potential to save you from a wasted trip to the cinema.

For people who don’t have much time on their hands, the ability to know what twists and sequel-bait lie in store is worth more than the price of admission. For example, if you were in the mind of someone who didn’t know if they wanted to see 2019’s “Terminator: Dark Fate”, the internet would be there once more to put and end to all your hopes for a good “Terminator 2” sequel.

Some people just don’t like surprises — Spoiler-ific knowledge is perfect for keeping the blood pressure low. If you want to watch a horror movie with your friends, reading the film’s Wikipedia page telling you which scare happens where is great for minimizing potential anxiety.

The power of leaked information is especially potent in superhero films. Something as minute as an on-set glimpse of Robert Pattinson’s batsuit is enough for many cinephiles to get their speculatory wheels to spin feverishly. An apartment view of “Venom 2” offers a behind-the-scenes look into how the producers will incorporate the CGI onto a man with a Venom bust strapped over his head. Bystander photographs introduce a new “Suicide Squad” that hint at a more inspired crew rather than digestible drivel. There’s that magical period before a film drops where all the marketing and conversation fuel the hype train, a trip with only two destinations — disappointment or astonishment. In that period, being able to participate with a (typically digital) community to theorize and to scrutinize the bare scraps of a leak is a collective excitement.

Our culture has vilified spoilers as the cornerstone that makes or breaks a film. Having ruined a sad share of films for myself, the key component for quality isn’t the reveal, but the execution of the narrative. Knowing the a-ha moment can help a viewer appreciate the foreshadowing or the escalation culminating into that thematic twist of the knife.

I read a leaked script for “Joker” a few weeks before it dominated the box office. Knowing how one version of how the film would play out was like having to go through the “will they or won’t they?” of a sitcom. The preexisting knowledge put a spotlight on how the story was structured, with its inspirations glaringly paid homage to.

In certain dramas or thrillers, there are scenes that some viewers can find triggering or offensive. Being able to know what heavy material lies in wait is the type of spoiler that has the potential to benefit one’s wellness. Furthermore, the majority of psychedelic movies and animations don’t feature a seizure warning.

It’s easy to forget that a part doesn’t encompass the whole. People will watch good movies, and if a spoiler ruins everything else, then it’s probably a bad movie. Equipping yourself with the foresight to know what happens beforehand is the difference between a dozen dollars saved or a dozen dollars wasted.