Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009

Last Thursday night, I was out for the evening and had to record Survivor. I got back around midnight and before I settled in to watch Survivor before going to sleep, I came online to check my email. When I signed on to Facebook, I saw that my friend Becki had written on my wall that Brendan had been eliminated. Well, to be fair, she didn’t explicitly say it in the form of ‘Hey Sean, Brendan was voted off tonight’, but she was commenting on the fact that he was eliminated, which spoiled the ending for me, as well as a mutual friend of ours who hadn’t watched it yet either. So, this led to a comment on yesterday’s post (to be explained further below), and an ensuing conversation about rules and courtesies involved in not spoiling results for people, whether it be television, sports, or pretty much anything.

In this era of digital media, and online access to almost everything, the world has become familiar with the term SPOILER ALERT. I try my best to avoid spoilers, because for me, the entertainment is in getting there, not just the result. Sure, I can read in a boxscore that Duke lost a basketball game, but how was the game? I prefer to watch it. And I know that with all these reality shows, which are pre-taped, there is information out there on who makes it to the end, but I don’t want to know. If I invest in a season of watching a television program, I want to earn the payoff at the end, not just find out what happens by someone who happened to run into the final 3 Amazing Race teams in an airport in China. I avoid spoilers as if they’re a trip to the dentist’s office (that one’s for you, Mike), and that’s why I’m so militant about not wanting to ruin Season 5 of Lost for those readers who aren’t caught up yet.

But it brings up a good question regarding protocol. Using TV shows as an example, if I’m going to talk to someone about a show, I always start off by asking if they’ve seen the last episode. If not, then no harm, no foul. But if I open up with something like “Can you believe they killed off Adriana last night?”, then there’s really no point of return after that. It’s out there. I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry.

My friend Tracy and I used to talk about Survivor and Celebrity Apprentice on Friday mornings last year, and we would always start off by asking if the other one had seen the episode. Seemed like we had a pretty good system going, until out of the blue, on a morning after I had watched Survivor but not Celebrity Apprentice, my messenger window pops open with a message from her saying, “Woo-hoo! The witch Omarosa is gone!”

What the hell? I thought we had a system, and then…..BOOOOM! Blindside. It was like Trump fired me, I was so shocked. So I told her I hadn’t watched it yet, and as she’s apologizing, she tells me she hasn’t watched Survivor yet, and not to ruin it for her! I immediately said, “Well, I won’t tell you what happens, but don’t get too attached to Amanda.” It was a lie, of course, because even though she had just snuffed my torch, I couldn’t turn around and do the same to her. But she didn’t know that until she watched the episode, so it was kind of worth it.

With sports, if I can’t be home to watch a game, I’ll record it and watch it later. If it’s something big, I try to let certain people know in advance that I won’t be watching it live so that they don’t ruin it for me. During NCAA Basketball season, I even sometimes answer the phone with “I haven’t seen the Duke game yet!” when I pick up. And here’s why… Years ago, Duke was playing Michigan, and I wasn’t home, but I was taping it to watch right after it ended. So the phone rings, and it’s my father-in-law, and as soon as I pick up the phone, he says “Well, Duke really BLEW IT this afternoon, huh?”

Or then there was the time that I wanted to see M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, and knew that there would be a twist ending, as there usually is in his movies, so I avoided all reviews and conversation of the film. I didn’t get to see it at theatres, so I waited patiently for the DVD release without having anything spoiled for me. Then, I was reading a Maxim Magazine talking about upcoming DVD releases in one sentence, and the sentence for The Village said “M. Night Shyamalan’s newest movie, and oh yeah, they’re in the present.”


And then there was that time a number of years ago at work, when we were having a discussion about the HBO show Oz. I had just started watching Season 5, and was only a couple of episodes in, when Matt said to me, “Season 5? Is that the one where Augustus Hill dies in the finale? Or was that Season 4?” The look on my face told him clearly that it was NOT season 4, and I was not impressed. To his credit, Matt felt horrible, and still shows remorse to this day. That’s what prompted his comment on yesterday’s post, which is funny now in retrospect, but most definitely was not funny at the time.

I did get Matt back (albeit accidentally) in 2001 during the NFL playoffs. Matt is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan and during their playoff run in 2001, there was a big game that he was watching at his place, while I was watching at mine. I can’t remember the full details of what happened, but it was near the end of the game and there was a huge play that I knew he would have been excited about, so I called him right after it happened and excitedly blurted it in to the phone, and he responded. “Dude, I’m on satellite. There’s a delay!” And then the play happened while he was on the phone with me and I know he would have strangled me through the phone if he could.

So what’s my point? I guess I’m just trying to establish the foundation for the preservation of the element of surprise. Nobody in any of these examples intended to reveal anything on purpose (I don’t think), so it’s not like there was any malicious intent. But in the future, if you’re talking about something that may be a ‘revealing’ surprise or result, take the extra few seconds to see if they’ve seen it yet.

And oh yeah….Bruce Willis is dead in The Sixth Sense.


Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1. You better hope Denis Araujo doesn't read this blog.

2. Don't I get credit for the Phil Ivey spot?

Sean said...

Four comments:

1. I assume this is Teach.

2. No, YOU better hope he doesn't read it!

3. Original Phil Ivey post has been amended with credit.

4. Why do you post your comment in the wrong post? You're commenting on the last two posts, not this one! :)

shipaddict said...

Awesome post. I can't STAND people that post on facebook immediately after a show that so-and-so was just ousted or something like that. I have yelled at a few friends and sent private messages to people (who aren't friends) for doing it. One of my favorites this season -- the West coast airing of TAR was delayed cos of Obama being killed and many people ended up missing it. At least a dozen people responded to TAR's facebook post about the delay saying how glad they were that the Goths were gone. HELLOOO??? Were you NOT aware that an entire time zone just missed the show and would now have to wait probably 2 more hours to be able to see it online? Wasn't that what this whole post was about?

That is why I have decided to "go dark" anytime I have to miss one of my favorite episodes. From the moment that show airs until the time it is on that stations website (or I can get to my DVR) I do not answer email, check facebook, or talk to any of my friends that also watch the show. This system has worked pretty well for me this past season. That doesn't excuse all those Spoiler people out there, but this is my workaround!