Something BIG happened on Game of Thrones Sunday night. You know how I know? No, I haven’t watched it yet, because I don’t get HBO. I’ll have to wait a week or two to watch it at a friend’s house. I know because a Facebook friend of mine put up a post surrounded by eye-catching emoji that said “OMG! Not [CHARACTER’S NAME]! I can’t believe they did that to [CHARACTER’S NAME]!” Except the actual character’s name was written out, in ALL CAPS, twice, within two hours after the episode aired. The brightly-appointed post appeared directly in my feed, as difficult to ignore as those Kate Upton Game of War ads.
So yeah, I don’t have cable, but I do have internet service; and everyone on Facebook and Twitter and FourSpace and JubblyDo and Squoozle had to say something about the last GoT episode. Anything. “I want to punch George R.R. Martin in the face!” or “OMG, I can’t believe he did that!” I’ll not comment on the silliness of that statement, since by now you should know that George R.R. Martin will do anything to any character, no matter how beloved. So just believe it. Believe it and stop blurting it out into the public space less than 24 hours after the season finale of an extremely popular show airs.
Rather than rehash the Spoilers vs. No Spoilers debate, already wonderfully handled by Funkhouser’s own S.E. Shepherd and Richmond Bramblet here, I prefer to wallow in my own spoiler history. As a writer for a pop culture website, or more accurately the pop culture arm of a (mostly) sports website, I read a lot of articles on the internet and talk a lot about that same stuff with friends and colleagues. This means it is impossible to avoid all hint of spoilers. It’s still possible, though, to avoid specific details of most spoilers because most authors and considerate human beings offer a “Spoiler Alert” warning. Most people. Some, on the other hand, have no qualms about just laying it out there–every twist, turn, and secret of some movies that relied on such things to be watchable. Below are the movies and TV shows that were spoiled the worst for me. (**SPOILER ALERT**)
- Game of Thrones: “Red Wedding” (actually “The Rains of Castamere,” but no one remembers that episode name). After binge watching the first two seasons, my wife and I had caught up and were excited to watch this episode, the first we would watch concurrently. Or almost concurrently. We were unable to watch the episode that Sunday due to a family function, but would be watching it the next day at a friend’s house. I had no clue that something cataclysmic would occur until all of Facebook and Twitter blew up with “Holy sh*t! Red Wedding!”, “Oh my god I can’t believe it! Red Wedding!” (there we go again with the “I can’t believe it.”), “Red Wedding is the most messed up thing I’ve ever seen on TV!” Damn, people. And again, not even 24 hours after the episode aired. Now I know something is going to happen even if I don’t know what, so I’m watching for it. My wife, who had read all the books, even said, “I wish you hadn’t known anything about it. It took me completely by surprise when I read it.” That’s when I remember her reading in bed, then suddenly gasping and saying the words that make up WTF. My wife rarely curses. That was the Red Wedding.
- Million Dollar Baby: I had heard quite a bit about it, and was pretty excited until I was reading a review in The Week a few days after the movie premiered. Right smack in the middle of the article, the author lets go with “and then she gets paralyzed during a fight and eventually Clint Eastwood takes her off life support so she won’t suffer anymore.” My jaw dropped. WTF!!!! No “Spoiler Alert!” or leading parenthetical phrase or anything like that. Just a huge damn spoiler stated matter-of-factly right in the meat of the review. It ruined the whole thing for me, especially since I had no idea that the movie even had an unexpected turn. Hell, I don’t even know if that’s what really happens in the movie because I still haven’t seen it.
- Unbreakable: Shymalan sets the bar with Sixth Sense in 1999, then comes out with Unbreakable the next year. Everyone is super-hyped, not knowing if there’s a twist because Shyamalan is still really early in his career, but hoping there is. A group of friends is getting ready to go see it opening weekend, but another friend who had seen it a day earlier said, “Man, don’t bother. It’s f*ckin’ stupid. Bruce Willis is the ‘unbreakable’ guy like Superman and Samuel L. Jackson is like the villain who’s trying to find him by making all this crap go wrong.” Silence, mouths agape, then mounting anger. Dude tried to squirm his way out of it by telling us he just saved us money. We didn’t agree. We don’t see that guy anymore. And I still think Unbreakable is a great movie.
- The Sopranos, “Long Term Parking”: I almost can’t count this as a spoiler, because I stopped watching The Sopranos when I dropped HBO because I didn’t like spending money on cable. I missed a couple Sunday TV nights in a row with my best buds, a tradition of ours that lasted for years. When I returned a few weeks later, one friend says, “Damn, Shorr, you missed some awesome stuff! Adriana got whacked!” My eyes narrowed, and I transmuted into a ball of pure fury. Yes, it had been a couple weeks so I can’t expect total non-spoilerage, but dude knew I wanted to catch up on the episodes. I eventually forgave him because he was very drunk.
- The Crying Game: I can’t even remember who gave away the big twist for this one, but I do remember thinking that since I’d seen Sleepaway Camp, I’d pretty much seen The Crying Game.
- The Empire Strikes Back: my parents took me to see this in theater when I had just turned four. I fell asleep for part of it (I can fall asleep anywhere, in any position, no matter what is going on, including a noisy theater during Star Wars), and I guess I didn’t really understand the dynamic between Vader and Luke. When they later explained that Vader was Luke’s father, I cried. That’s kind of a spoiler, right? I still haven’t forgiven them. My heart is cold and black.
What about you? What is the worst a movie, TV show, or book was ever spoiled for you?