DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a comic book writer who has long enjoyed interacting on social media with my fans and other like-minded folks about the various superhero and science fiction movies and TV shows that are proliferating the pop culture landscape.
We come to you to rule upon the issue of “spoilers.” With the advent of DVRs, not to mention the various priorities and choices that today’s audience has, sadly, there is no longer an agreed-upon “next day over the water-cooler” type of camaraderie.
Audience members who experience the entertainment first are expected to sit on their hands until everyone has had a chance to see it. The mob has sort of informally agreed upon a week’s time to wait to discuss things, but that seems to me to fly in the face of the immediacy of social media interaction.
As a writer, I chafe at the imperfect solution of prefacing every enthusiasm with a long bar of “spoiler space” or typing the crass “SPOILER” billboard warning across what may only be intended to be a brief (albeit, admittedly, public) discussion amongst pals.
Since there are no established rules for TV and movie spoiler etiquette, any opinion on this matter by an individual is usually dismissed as subjective, which, of course, it is. How are folks supposed to account for the entire audience to be caught up without hearing from the churlish that an innocent post ruined their enjoyment?
An entire cadre of pop culture nerds eagerly awaits your response.
GENTLE READER: SPOILER: Not everyone will like Miss Manners’ answer.
She sees nothing wrong with what you deem a crass warning. By headlining public conversation with it, up-to-date fans will be able to talk freely -- and those who are delayed will have been forewarned.
Miss Manners is aware that people who spoil movie endings have been beaten up -- quite literally -- and those they have wronged deem this retaliation justified. Purposefully ruining others’ enjoyment of popular entertainment is unkind, but justifying violence as a means of counteracting it betrays a society that is clearly lacking in priorities.
In the age of immediate gratification, there seems to be no satisfactory waiting period, so Miss Manners recommends the aforementioned alerts. But she already stated that, didn’t she? See? She even spoiled her own ending.