Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spoiler Overdrive

One weekend. That was it. That was all the time it took for a trailer whose entire point is built on misdirection to have been spoiled for me. And while I'm perfectly willing to accept the argument that it is only a trailer, I can't help but feel deprived the feeling of being engulfed in the trailer's humorous third act - sort of - twist. But the sad thing is I would be inclined to forgive this if it only occurred every now and again, but it's a disease. These spoilers. The Zombieland surprise cameo didn't even make to the release date before every review had made certain to post it in giant bold letters, spreading throughout facebook and twitter quicker than any sickness. I couldn't even get within five feet of Splice before someone had posted a key scene from the film in the opening sentence of their review (often what I use as a judge on whether or not to continue reading).

Then, as Fletch pointed out with his usual pin-point intellectual precision on a recent episode of the LAMBCast, you have the news. Nobody knows just about the new franchise blockbuster coming out next week. We know the size of each roll, the background of each character, their favorite jokes, how the film will play into the grand scheme of the series, what the director intended on doing, how many actors are signed to multiple film contracts, and whether or not the crew liked to use double bubble or big red. It's unreal.

*BEGIN SPOILERS*
You read this didn't you. Most everybody does!
If anything, you're drawing attention here...
*END SPOILERS*

Now, I would be far from honest if I didn't say I was as guilty of this as anyone. But I do my best to keep spoilers reserved solely for films that have been out a good while. Doesn't make it right, but at least I try. Some people you can't even say that for. And the worse part about it, their spoilers offer nothing to their posts. There's no analysis. No insight offered that may aid me in gaining something else I wouldn't normally get by knowing the ending ahead of time. It's just "OMG I COULDN'T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED!!!!" Now, I have to. Because I don't get a chance to be shocked by it happening. I go in knowing it's going to happen.

But surprise is the key component of any film. The tension derived from the unknown outcome. Even in dramatic irony, it's the knowledge that what may happen next is out of our control that reaches in and drives out our sweat, fear, and emotions so intensely. However, these days if I want to know about a movie before everyone else tells me about it, I have to watch it before anyone else does.

I just wish I understood why they do it. Or even worse, why people are so willing to walk into these posts one after another as if nothing is going on. Maybe it's an obsession with information. That craving to keep having something 'new' and 'hip' has reached levels so extreme, we just can't stop. The news providers and the news readers in equal measure. The news sites have to have continuously new content, otherwise people won't read and they won't get revenue. The news readers have to be up to date on the latest news, otherwise they might be left out of the big comings and goings of their inner social group.

How do we overcome this frustrating tidbit of society? Well, as I can see it, the only way out is in. We have to spoil every movie. Every movie in the history of cinema. Only by doing so can we fully appreciate all films on an even keel. So, kick in Kathleen Turner Overdrive, bring out your dead all along, and throw on a bit of that funky the president did it beat. It's spoil time!

7 better thoughts:

TS Hendrik said...

I think it depends on the spoilers. Not everything that people cry havoc over is going to ruin the film. Sure if there's a twist, you should keep that to yourself, but I've seen people complaining about the smallest insignificant details. Almost as if they've forgotten that it's what movie sites were built on in the beginning.

Still, I'm like you and try to keep the spoilers to a minimum. That's why I didn't tell people what the trailer was I posted and let them see it for themselves.

Fletch said...

You got a weekend out of the Green trailer? I think I got one minute. They were never separate - I knew before I started watching it what it was, and I wasn't aware of its existence but a few minutes before then.

Seems to me that the logical next stage is for the news to spoil the films outright before they're even released; not in the way of casting news and such that I'd mentioned before (and thanks for the shout, and your welcome for the musing), but in actually using plot details as news. I can see it now:

"Perkins to play mother and son in Hitch's latest."

Yojimbo_5 said...

I would buy your outrage if the thing wasn't a studio-sanctioned trailer. But, as it is, your rant is a bit of a tempest in a tea-cup. Spoiler? Hardly. What it is is a clever attempt by Disney to generate some interest in a franchise that hasn't performed well in the last couple outings. Trailers are commercial tools, for good or ill, to sell an indifferent audience to a product and generate interest. And while it is true that Gene Siskel refused to watch trailers—no doubt because so many trailers do a poor job of establishing a film's tone (a recent example is Everything Must Go)—it is a little tough to avoid them in theaters, especially when they are attached to new releases...as this one is to the most splashy release of the weekend.

A new Muppet movie? Ho-hum. But, to do a bait-and-switch selling it? That's unique (more to the point is one of the lead characters breaking the fourth wall to say "Wait, wait, stop!" and acknowledge he's in a movie). This is not a spoiler. No one's saying who Rosebud is, or why Bruce Willis is acting so strange. It's a way for Disney to sell their Muppet movie, by making the inclusion of them a happy surprise, and maybe make people WANT to see a Muppet movie again.

I posted it because it is clever. I posted it without comment because I wanted it to be a surprise. But to think of it as giving away a secret? When the STUDIO is trumpeting it? That is a bit of a stretch for me. It may feel like weltschmerz to you, but it's "feltschmerz" to me (they are puppets, after all).

Mad Hatter said...

Not to jump on the dogpile, but I'm curious: If you didn't even know it was the Muppets trailer, would you have queue'd up a trailer for a rom-com with Adams and Segal called GREEN WITH ENVY?

cinemasights said...

This is the main reason I almost never read a review of a film before I've seen it.

I think now, so much of the early film reviews is simply the quick gut reaction, which is almost always about the plot. It's become a me first mentality, which means people almost never stop to think about the film.

I think it will be best if people would have the patience to wait a while. When I see a new release, my first inclination is to simply crank out a review as soon as possible, but more often than not, I write a better review if I at least sleep on a movie and then write about it when I have a bit of distance from it.

But, of course, we don't like waiting in this day and age, so I think the best we can do is ignore the very first reviews that come out and wait for the ones that give themselves a little breathing room.

Castor said...

I was faced with that dilemma when I posted it yesterday morning. If I was to say nothing about it and just give some title like "Watch Trailer for Romantic Comedy Green with Envy", let's face it, virtually no one would have paid attention. This was meant to be a surprise for audiences this weekend. Once they decided to release it online, it was long spoiled.

Univarn said...

@TS I do agree lots of people cry over spilt milk. But also too many people are quick to claim things as spilt milk that really are spoilers. It may not seem like it in context, but that knowledge is always there for you and whenever you watch the movie, it'll be called to the forefront.

@Fletch I'm very adept at avoiding spoilers. The trailer one got past even my cautious ways. As to your comment, I say go for it. Man I Love Films could be the new trendsetter!

@Yojimbo People keep complaining my rants are never timely, so I threw in the trailer because it just so happened to go full on around the same time I was doing this post. I'm not saying the spoilers deserve life sentences at Auschwitz. Just that it would have been nice to experience the trailer for myself, and then partake in the discussion about how it ranks in the context of movie marketing. This coming from someone who has dedicated endless number of posts to targeting hollywood marketing for keeling over and doing the same thing every single time.

@Mad Dogpile away. I don't mind being tackled every now and again - keeps me in check (sort of). As to your question, "eh."

@CinemaSights Good points, and ones I take to heart. I never write a review for a movie the same day I saw it. More often than not, I don't do it for several days at least. As to reading reviews, it's a bit of a double edged sword. If I can't make up my mind, your review might just put me over the top. But if I read your review, I run the risk of losing something you had while watching it through inadvertent spoilers, and therefore can't appreciate it in the same manner.

@Castor Not if you word that dully, no. But websites could have played along. Built up how great this romantic comedy will be. That way, they allow the spoilers to trickle out through those who have seen it, and not just cut it off at the pass by delivering it up front. Though I'd like to say I don't hold any ill will to those who did it, was more of a "damn, I would have enjoyed seeing that ahead of time." Which is why it only takes up two sentences of the above post :P

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