With what feels like the 300th Marvel release of the year currently clogging up 90% of all cinema screens across the city, social media is once again bursting with posts about spoilers. The obsession with avoiding knowledge of a film – with a likely predictable plot – reached such a fever pitch that I saw one person post the same threat six times to anyone that dared ruin the ending for him.
The sheer levels of idiocy involved in this are mind-blowing. Firstly, there’s the absolute, solipsistic arrogance of it. None of us actually need social media — as addictive as it might be — it’s a time-wasting mechanism we utilise to make people think that our awful lives are infinitely better than they actually are. In addition, there are more than a billion active Facebook users. That’s billion, with a b. That’s one Facebook account for every seven people on the planet. To demand that every other user maintain levels of secrecy that adhere to your schedule, rather than simply show enough discipline to avoid seeing your auntie share the same fake Marilyn Monroe quote for the twentieth time, reaches an almost incomprehensive level of self-centeredness.
And even if you do find out a spoiler, so what? What difference does it actually make? Is the threat of you envisioning something you’ve heard a description of so devastating? Is your imagination so wonderfully accurate that a mere sentence or two will destroy two and a half hours of film watching? I went to see Michael Fassbender in a film version of Macbeth a couple of years ago, not because I wanted to see if (spoiler alert) he still dies at the hand of Macduff, but because it was an experience to see it. Having seen the play in three different stage productions, and on the big and small screens, the plot was overwhelmingly spoilt ahead of time for me. But it didn’t matter.
What is actually at stake? We’re already on the fifteenth Spider Man of my lifetime; if they kill him off, they’ll just wait eighteen months and relaunch the franchise again. It’s a world where literally nothing is to lose; it exists purely for entertainment. But witnessing grown-up, actual-adult human beings cover their ears like they’re finding out Santa isn’t real when the topic of a new Marvel film comes up, makes me despair for society. On top of that, a study by a San Diego Psychology professor named Nicholas Christenfeld actually suggested that the majority of people enjoy a story more once they know what will happen.
So stop demanding that the entire world shut their mouths until you’re ready to know about a film, and rest easy in the knowledge that Bruce Willis was a ghost, Keyser Söze was Kevin Spacey and half the cast of the Avengers dies in the end.
Ash Carter is LeftLion’s Screen Editor. Want to get signed up to our Film Writers list? Email firstname.lastname@example.org