I was recently chastised for mentioning that Darth Vader is Luke's father. "How dare you," wrote one of my social media contacts. "That's a spoiler! I haven't seen 'Star Wars' yet!"
Thirty-six years after the release of 'The Empire Strikes Back' and this clown STILL expects the world to keep that morsel tucked away just for him. Dude, maybe crack the seal on your fallout shelter every decade or so -- just to see what society is up to.
He immediately unfollowed me. Really?
'Spoiler Alert' etiquette has become too restrictive and, let's face it, childish. I'm sick of walking on eggshells worried about who is on what season of what.
TV and movie watching are no longer restricted to any pre-set programming schedule. So viewers save their favourite programs for that perfect time when they can immerse themselves and maybe 'binge watch'. But not everyone is on the same binge-watching schedule. And that's where the frustration bubbles up.
Every time I share a wine with a friend, do I have to survey our fellow patrons before we can chat about 'Vikings', or 'Star Wars: Episode VI', or 'Casablanca' for that matter? It's time to slap an expiration date on Spoiler Alerts and get on with our lives!
So what is the protocol? How long do we wait before it's fair game to talk? After all, part of the fun is sharing the excitement with like-minded fans while the emotions are still fresh.
There's nothing worse than a group of friends about to dish on their favorite show when one person barks out, "Don't say anything! I haven't seen it!" Shoulders slump, smiles drain, and everyone agrees to move on to more 'appropriate' conversation like climate change or $2 milk.
I think a two-week expiration date on spoiler alerts is very generous. One week would be better, but the implications would be catastrophic for this fragile society we call home. So, two-weeks it is. If that's not enough time to watch 'House of Cards' or 'Vikings, then too bad. You'll just have to step off the grid to avoid the chatter.
I watched almost the entire series of 'Breaking Bad' with the understanding that I was late to the party. So, if I read about certain deaths or grisly happenings, then I had nobody to blame but me for being two years behind the curve.
Same thing with 'Game of Thrones'. Pretty much everything that you're watching for the first time has already been revealed in the book series, first published in 1996. All the incest, murder, betrayal, and even the marriage of Tyrion Lannister to Lulu, the 11-foot-tall, flesh-eating queen of the White Walkers.
Recently, one of the most popular GoT characters returned from the dead. It was no surprise to the die-hard fans. He was photographed on-set shooting season six. He hadn't cut his hair like he said he would if his character was killed off. Also, with the TV series catching up with the books, the producers had taken to developing their own storylines that "played to the crowd" a bit more, i.e. resurrecting favorite characters. The only surprise for me was the lame lack of celebration on social media.
Clearly people were held hostage by the specter of the S-word. A few brave folk posted memes of Carice van Houten smoking a cigar and saying, "You're welcome, bitches." But that's as blatant as the "spoiling" got.
Sure, there's all sorts of logistical questions to consider when implementing my 2-week spoiler grace period.
Is a TV series considered more sacrosanct than last night's football final? What about books? What about game shows? I'd be happy to tell you who won 'Family Feud' last week if you won't tear me to pieces. Would you get mad if someone warned you of an overturned truck blocking the freeway on your route home? Oh no! I wanted to watch the news, now you've ruined it!
Is it a spoiler to let people know that suffragettes won the right to vote? Or that Captain von Trapp married Maria OR Danny Zuko and Sandy end up together OR three people escaped from Alcatraz and probably drowned OR Cinderella loses her glass slipper OR JFK did not leave Texas alive OR Bambi's mother will not appear in the sequel OR Rhett Butler did not, frankly my dear, give a damn? Or Dumbo did not ... okay I can't bring myself to spoil Dumbo (circa 1941)...
I get it. There's a lot to consider. But as the author of these commandments, I choose to reject all such logistics outright. The gavel has fallen. You get two weeks.