The Dreaded Spoilers

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We’ve all had it happen. A new movie comes out, and some ass-crumpet posts a pivotal detail on social media before you have a chance to see it. A TV series airs in another country or time zone before it airs in yours, and though you promised to stay off Facebook, you pop in for “just a minute” and discover a favorite character is dead.

Wails, anguish, threats of swift and blinding retribution.

But there’s another kind of spoiler, one some viewers actually seek out. Let’s skip movies for now, since I rarely watch movies, though I did watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri yesterday. (Spoiler alert: There are billboards. Three of them. Outside Ebbing, Missouri.)

Television episodes are provided to select reviewers before the episode airs, and some of them work with fandom sites to reveal key information before it is broadcast. They can’t just post them anywhere, though, or the network will quickly figure out who it is, and their early-review days are over.

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One such group is The Spoiling Dead Fans, though they got a lot of heat from AMC, and now the spoilers are shared in a closed group, TSDF Army. Around Wednesday or Thursday before the Sunday US premiere of an episode, a Q&A covering key story developments appears, and lots of people read them.

I do.

The Spoiling Dead Fans has over 450,000 likes on Facebook. The closed TSDF Army group has over 40,000 members.

Why would anyone want to know what happens before an episode? For me, it’s a combination of anxiety and immediate gratification. I admit, I do sometimes skip the spoilers for a huge episode like a season premiere or finale, but I usually read the spoilers for The Walking Dead. I’m a highly anxious person, and I’ll get so worked up with the anticipation and tension that I can’t enjoy the program itself. I’m also very Veruca Salt, and “I want it now.” No waiting. I want to know, so just tell me, already. If I know, I can mentally prepare myself for anything disturbing, or pay closer attention as the revelation of something exciting approaches.

There have been exceptions. I didn’t read about the season finale as we awaited who would Negan bash in the head…and regretted it. I’d heard rumors of a possible cliffhanger, but refused to believe they’d do that to fans. And they did. And I was furious. There’s nothing worse for an immediate-gratification person than having to wait six months for an answer. I still hate Scott Gimple. So. Much.

There have also been a few times even TSDF Army declined to post a spoiler. Most notably was when Chandler Riggs himself contacted them and asked them not to reveal Carl’s impending death. Because he asked politely and respectfully, and was humble and mature about it, they agreed.

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Right now, their source has decided not to provide spoilers for the upcoming final two episodes of the current season. This is his or her prerogative, and we don’t have any right to complain. We’re not entitled to spoilers. There are rumors out there, but very little of it can be confirmed. So I’m going into tonight’s episode with not much concrete information. I kind of hate it, but I understand.

How do you feel about spoilers, either the right-after-it-airs kind, or the pre-broadcast ones? And after a movie or episode is out there, how long is the appropriate time to refrain from posting spoilers on social media? I mean, it’s not realistic to keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself for months, just because someone is waiting for a movie to hit Amazon, or because someone is a season behind in binge-watching The Walking Dead. I think a week, maybe two, is fair. If seeing the movie or series isn’t your priority, you have to accept the risk.

As for tonight, I very strongly suspect one particular death. I have some good hunches about a few other developments. But I’m going in with a lot less information than I typically have, and there’s only one thing I can say about that…

Spoiled child

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