Friday, July 27, 2007

Plot Spoilers

One of the themes I've repeated again and again is that when reviewing movies or books you don't spoil plots. It is one of the few circumstances in which I will remove a comment.

But when can you start spoiling? When can you assume familiarity? In the presence of people who had not seen the films and were planning to soon, someone in a meeting the other day gave away the endings of The Shawshank Redemption and The Truman Show. Now I know these are relatively old movies (1994 and 1998 respectively) and many people will have seen them, but at what point can I discuss the plot thoroughly and openly?

This thought and question came to me when, reading the Observer, I discovered which character dies at the end of Harry Potter 6, a fact I had avoided knowing until then.

I am currently reading Harry Potter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix) because I read them just before the movies come out, not when the books are published.

Does the HP franchise change the rules because 21 million copies are now knocking around in Britain which means that a third of the population own it and many of the books will be read by more than one person?

Clearly we can assume knowledge of old classics. The Bible? He dies but it isn't the end. You knew that. Shakespeare? All endings are deemed public domain. Dickens? Getting closer but still we can assume we won't be spoiling by discussing. Of course if young children start reading these things they won't have the immersion in the media that we have so if parents keep the ending from them the book won't be ruined. Anyway as a young reader I always peeked at the end.

So gang, at what point will you be openly discussing what happens in the Deathly Hallows?

3 comments:

Ruth said...

The email list I belong to set an embargo time of 24 hours after publication, and a requirement that the person posting have read the whole book. But we are still including 'spoiler space' so that people who don't want to read the discussion shouldn't get it popping up in their preview window. I managed to finish the book Tuesday night without having any of it spoilt, despite continuing on the list. It was hard work but it was worth it! Surely if you clearly state what you are about to discuss, the wary reader can avoid reading further?

St said...

Indeed. The problem is that the film spoilers were simply dropped into everyday conversation without pre-announcement. I agree your principle though.

Mike Peatman said...

The thing about the last page of HP7 is how $%£^£&*&"*&^*!&^*!%^^£

file corrupted by confunding charm: As Ever. The Ministry of Magic