Y’know, you just don’t have to read, watch, or listen to anything any more. Welcome to the future, and the future is spoilers.
This is not an anti-spoiler rant. I have no worries over spoilers. Demanding that every piece of entertainment be delivered to you pristine and unexplained in any way is ludicrous; half of the power of good fiction is poring over it and gleaning the details, the references, the tiny points that reward careful attention. If knowing the ending to a story ruins that story for you, then 99% of the literature and filmed entertainment ever produced is already ruined for you, and that’s just sad for you, to be that limited.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go into new things fresh – for example, you don’t mind that you know how The Lord of the Rings ends, you still re-read it occasionally, but when Watchmen comes out, you want to remain ignorant of it until you watch the movie so you can experience it as pure new story, well, that’s fine. But if someone does spoil the story for you, the only reasonable reaction is to shrug and go see the movie anyway, because if the story’s any good, it won’t matter.
Anyway: This is not an anti-spoiler rant; I sleep on a mattress made of spoilers and I sleep well. No, this is about the Cloud.
The Cloud is the web, mainly, although it’s also people around you. The Cloud is the repository of spoilers out there, the ongoing discussions about TYV shows, books, and movies. The Cloud basically contains the entire plot of every new book, movie, or TV show, plus the detail analysis and exhaustive revelation of Easter Eggs. The Cloud means that you no longer have to watch or read anything in order to be perfectly familiar with it.
I have never watched an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica. Yet, I can give you a decent plot summary and even discuss the basic themes of the show, and a smattering of the complaints people have had. It’s like I’ve actually watched it. All because of web sites like I09 and the like – hell, I’ve seen clips, read detailed reviews and analysis. Having never actually watched the show, I could convince you otherwise at a party.
Part of this is because I am a Catholic-church-trained liar, and we Catholics learn to lie with the best. I could also convince you I am wearing pants, when I clearly am not. But I digress.
I have also never seen the movie Watchmen or read the graphic novel, but I know the plots of both, plus a boatload of background details. Am I a mindreading genius? No, I’ve simply read so much about it, I’m like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: I’ve been around for so long I know everything. IO9 even provided a handy analysis of the opening credits sequence for me, which gave me an abundance of tiny detail to work with.
We are entering a period of time when you don’t actually have to read or watch something to know all about it. Yes, you’re missing the wonderful details, the craft, and the joy of good writing. But on the other hand, you can now, in a way that was impossible not so long ago, determine pretty exactly whether you’re truly interested in a book, movie, or TV show before you actually put much time and effort into it. Just by dipping into the Cloud, you can get very good idea if you’re going to like something before you invest in it. And that’s a good thing, I think. But then, I don’t fear spoilers. I only fear children. And adults. Stop judging me.