Ever have the itch to skip to the last page of a book, the final chapter, just to see how the story ends? You may have felt the itch 50 pages in to a 300 page book, just as the hook wraps around and yanks you into the story. Or maybe the day is Thursday, tomorrow the new movie is coming out but you can’t wait to buy your ticket and plant your ass down in the theater seat, for the house lights dim, the projector’s bulb to light up bright. What do you do? You might head over to Wikipedia and read the detailed plot summary that some advance viewer has written up.
I know there are readers/fans/viewers/entertainment consumers who spoil themselves, I have good friends who do this. My friend Ryan will sometimes go to Wikipedia and read up on movie’s plot before stepping into a theater. Does it detour him from heading to the cinema? Not in the slightest. He’s said to me knowing those spoilers gets him more jazzed to see the outcomes on screen.
Do spoilers ruin the excitement of a movie or novel? If written well, big reveals in any story can thrill and excite up until seconds after the curtain is pulled back. Being on the edge of your seat, led by the nose in directions we never expect, can distract us enough we forget we know the outcome of a story or a particular plot point.
Last week I watched “Argo”. Prior to watching the film–way back in 2012 before the film released–I read up on the historical stuff behind the CIA extracting the six American embassy workers that went in to hiding after fifty of their fellows were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. I knew before starting the film what happened to the hidden Americans and yet when the CIA’s plans were being put into the motion I was biting my nails, worried the field agent and the hidden Americans he was trying to get out of Iran were going to be caught by the revolutionaries in the last moments. The spoilers did not affect my enjoyment of the film or the emotional roller coaster its climax took me on. The actors and the film’s creators put on such a great performance I was completely drawn in and invested in the futures of the characters.
The trick is for a writer or a film’s creator(s) to coerce the audience to invest emotion in the story and characters. Unspoiled readers/viewers will dive in head first, hold their breathes, and thrill to the ride. The spoiled audience will do the same. Think about this… How many times do we visit a theme park like Six Flags or Disneyland? Enough to know every turn on our favorite rides. Yet we go back, stand in line, and relive the thrills though we know the rides better than the backs of our hands! I argue the same goes for being spoiled. Emotion is the key. Evoke primal emotions–fear, love, excitement, et cetera–and you’ll tether the audience to your story and characters no matter how many times they’ve ridden the rails, no matter how many turns they know in the plot.
Have you spoiled yourself or had someone else spoil a book or movie’s twists and thrills and then were you unable to invest emotion in the story and characters? Or do you not care and still get enjoyment from said book or movie? Sound off entertainment consumers.