Definitions

spoiler space

Spoiler (media)

A spoiler is a summary or description of a narrative (or part of a narrative) that relates plot elements not revealed early in the narrative itself. Moreover, because enjoyment of a narrative sometimes depends upon the dramatic tension and suspense which undergird it, this early revelation of plot elements can "spoil" the enjoyment that some consumers of the narrative would otherwise have experienced.

On the Internet

The term spoiler is often associated with specialist Internet sites and in newsgroup postings. Often, the spoiling information is preceded by a warning ("SPOILER!"), or the spoiler itself has to be highlighted before it can be visibly read on the web page by those keen for details and not fazed at the thought of such potentially plot-revealing information. Sometimes, these warnings are omitted, accidentally or deliberately (see below), and some unwitting readers have had films, books, television programmes and other works that they were looking forward to experiencing spoiled.

There is in this information age an increasing problem for those who would prefer to avoid spoilers to entirely do so, especially for fans ahead of high-profile media releases. Some persons may reveal spoilers for their own malicious pleasure – consciously ruining a narrative experience for others. An example of this would be putting a major plot point that one is aware of in a post on a message board or in an internet chatroom. These can be reported to moderators and such posts taken down, the posters blacklisted, but after the damage is done.

On Usenet, the common method for obscuring spoiler information is to precede it with many blank lines known as 'spoiler space' – traditionally enough to push the information in question on to the next screen of a 25-line terminal. A simple cipher called ROT13 is also used in newsgroups to obscure spoilers, but is rarely used for this purpose elsewhere.

In print or other media

The Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote an article entitled "Critics have no right to play spoiler" which contained spoilers and spoilers warnings. Ebert wrote:

The characters in movies do not always do what we would do. Sometimes they make choices that offend us. That is their right. It is our right to disagree with them. It is not our right, however, to destroy for others the experience of being as surprised by those choices as we were. A few years ago, I began to notice "spoiler warnings" on Web-based movie reviews -- a shorthand way of informing the reader that a key plot point was about to be revealed. Having heard from more than a few readers accusing me of telling too much of the story, I began using such warnings in my reviews.

Ebert used two spoiler warnings in the article, saying "If you have not yet seen Million Dollar Baby and know nothing about the plot, read no further" and later said, "Now yet another spoiler warning, because I am going to become more explicit." Ebert discussed six films in the article and mentioned how many critics handled The Crying Game and also noted a detail about the film The Year of Living Dangerously. Ebert also mentioned two films alongside Million Dollar Baby.

In an interview about his Dark Tower series (appearing in issue #4 of the 2007 Marvel Comic adaptation The Gunslinger Born), Stephen King was asked if there are spoilers in the first few novels that would ruin someone’s experience of the comic. "There are no spoilers!” King replied. “You might as well say “I’m never gonna watch Wizard of Oz again because I know how it comes out.’”

The 2008 Doctor Who two-part story "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" made use of the concept of spoilers within the story's narrative, such as Donna Noble almost reading books from her future, and the Doctor meeting a woman who knows him yet in his timeline he hasn't met yet.

See also

References

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