Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

The escalation of spoiler culture

“You’re not going to believe what happened in “Gone Girl!” Ben Affleck…”

How does that sentence end, if spoken loudly in a crowd? Do I even reach its end? It’s more likely someone behind me at Panera shouts me down or a classmate vaults over a desk to, quite literally, shake some sense into me.

Conversation on arts and entertainment is at its most pervasive, having reached a point where simply using Twitter regularly guarantees having a movie or TV show spoiled and, for some people, thereby ruined (a spoiler is the revealing of a story’s important plot element, like “the butler was the killer”).

There isn’t any consensus on spoiler rules, either. If you think a year after release is long enough to blurt out plot points, you’re apt to get cold shoulders from someone for a few days. You probably still can’t talk about how “Lost” ended, and even now, after all these years, someone will be upset that I’m now going to spill that, in “The Sixth Sense,” Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.

After years of critics and communities flailing about with excessive spoiler warnings and indignant rage about the reveal of who died at the end of “Supernatural” season 5 (I’ve never watched “Supernatural,” I don’t know if that’s actually a thing), Netflix recently took an ostensibly forward-thinking tactic.

The web address spoilers.netflix.com will take you to a page called “Living With Spoilers.” It has a very Buzzfeed-esque quiz called “What Kind Of Spoiler Are You?” Personally, it seems I’m an Impulsive Spoiler. There is also a survey in which you, the Netflix viewer, can help determine which entertainment is “Too Soon” and which is “Old News.” The most public spoilers, according to this are “The Graduate,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Cool Runnings.” Those are odd results, but that’s a debate for a publication with more space.

Finally, there’s the option to “Spoil Yourself.” This page gives users the option to discover Old Yeller’s fate and the major plot points of 29 other movies and television shows.

Netflix’s position is clear: embrace the spoiler!

In a spoiler world where no rule is right (I cringed when “Vertigo’s” twists was revealed to me the other day – it’s been in my queue for ages), perhaps accepting the inevitable is the happiest way to live.

Is this the one true way, the narrow path? Of course not – there isn’t one.

The only way to have it your way is to carefully curate your friend groups, your Twitter followers, and your many other cultural, societal, and online habits. That’s a lot of work, but its your time. Time you could spend watching these things you’re desperate to avoid spoilers for, it could be said.

Then again, with Hollywood sending us movies bearing the title “Lone Survivor” and boasting one superstar in Mark Wahlberg – guess who survives – we might not have much choice in the matter. Netflix’s “Living With Spoilers” seems a bit too much like giving in, capitulating to the spoil-happy, but maybe it really is the only way to stay happy in this world of spoilers.