I’ve had two experiences recently that got me thinking that there needs to be new rules regarding the use of spoiler alerts. First, I knew some wacky things took place during “The Cabin in the Woods,” so I avoided discussions about the movie, so that I could enjoy it. Second, I was on a plane, and the person behind me was talking so loudly that I could hear her over my noise-canceling headphones. She spoiled a big event in “The Wire.” But could I really get upset? One the one hand, I could have asked her to stop. On the other, the show has been around for years.
So that got me thinking. Should all discussions of books, TV shows, and movies be preceded with “spoiler alerts”? Or should there be a statute of limitations on the use of “spoiler alerts”? What if TV shows are no longer in their first season? What if they have been on DVDs for years? How old must a movie be before you no longer need to say “spoiler alerts”? What if a filmed version is based on a book that was published years ago? Or should the term be used if and only if the book, movie, or TV show hasn’t aired yet?
Unless there is some statute of limitations for movies, TV shows, and books, I then begin to wonder if responsibility should shift from speaker to listener. Instead of forcing the speaker to announce “spoiler alerts” before discussing books, movies, or TV shows (and then keeping track of what friends have seen or read), maybe the burden should shift to the listener. Maybe he or she should actively avoid discussions of books, movies, or TV shows that he or she doesn’t want spoiled, or be the one to call out “spoiler alerts” during a conversation?
What do you think? I think regardless of statute of limitations or responsibility-shifting, there will need to be different rules for conversations and online posting. And there will always be jerks who love spoiling movies (the surprise at the end of “The Avengers” is already popping up online). So leave a comment below regarding rules, and don’t be a jerk.