DISCLAIMER: There is no actual spoilers in this blog post, in case you were concerned.
In no particular order, here is a list of movies to illustrate what I’ll be ranting about today:
- Children of Men
- Free Willy
- Terminator: Salvation
- The Island
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- Total Recall
- Terminator: Genisys
- The Negotiator
- The Double
- From Dusk Till Dawn
- Last House on the Left
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
- The Impossible
- The Sum of All Fears
- Funny People
- Spider-Man 3
- The Warrior
- Dream House
- Batman Begins
- Black Swan
- Captain America: The First Avenger
35 movies, spanning decades of time, different major and minor studios, different distributors and mediums, and a variety of subject matters (and even ratings).
Comedies, dramas, action, adventure, superhero, horror, thrillers, and even documentaries (I didn’t list any but you know I wouldn’t struggle to find examples).
Examples of what? Trailers spoiling movies. There’s a whole TV Trope all about it (TV Tropes are basically things that are repeatedly observed in a variety of mediums that now have a name or descriptor, i.e. ‘jumping the shark’ to reference a show going too far and never coming back.)
I know that a movie trailer is supposed to convince you to invest time and money into sitting somewhere for an hour or two (or three) to watch something that took years and hundreds of people (and millions of dollars) to complete. I know that a trailer needs to be engaging, exciting, alluring, mysterious, hilarious, or bombastic, all just in service of getting more butts in more seats in more theaters.
This isn’t confusing to me. What is confusing is why distributors and movie companies keep thinking they need to spoil the entire movie for the audience to convince them to go watch it. It’s not a great tactic in theory, I mean, when was the last time you read a SparkNotes of a book that made you want to then go read the whole book? Usually it’s the opposite situation.
“Well, I don’t have to see the movie now.”
— Stock Phrase by moviegoers after seeing certain trailers in previews.
TV does it too!
Doctor Who was a big offender this season. The ‘sizzle’ reel shown to get everyone excited for this most recent season — something that a bajillion people were going to tune into anyway, as it was announced as both Peter Capaldi and Stephen Moffat’s swan song — included a TON of big spoiler-type things: cameos, characters, events… all things that would have been about 100,000 times better if they were experienced without foreknowledge.
And I’m not talking about stuff from the season opener. I’m talking about cameos and characters and events from literally the final episode of the season. Significant surprises ruined.
Many other shows do the same thing. “Oh no, the character is surely going to die from this awful scenario they are in!” Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion. Here’s a trailer. “Oh look, that character is back doing awesome stuff, post-sure death scene. Tension burst.”
“Well, I don’t have to read the book now.”
— Stock Phrase by book readers after reading the back covers of certain books.
What!?? Books do this too!?? Why?
I mean, I sort of can understand the backs of books referencing events in prior books. But outright spoiling things that were major plot points might be too far. (I’m looking at you A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin).
But spoiling huge moments that dramatically shift the tone and pacing of a book halfway through it? Come on now The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Some even spoil stuff that won’t matter until future books. I mean, I know The Wheel of Time is a long series, but I guess be careful if you read the backs, they might spoil future books too?
“Well, I don’t have to do any of this anymore.”
— Stock Phrase by people realizing everything is tailored to spoil things.
I know that some people don’t care about spoilers. There’s even studies out there that say that having these things spoiled for you can heighten your enjoyment. I mean, I guess I get that in practice. I re-watch movies I’ve seen before and still enjoy them.
But in my opinion, re-watching a movie is me choosing to watch a movie where I know everything. Movie / TV Trailers, book / video game covers, and so on … they take that choice away from me.
DISCLAIMER: This is not in any way or any form or any shape a political post. Just to be clear. There is no analogous or double-meaning to anything I’m writing. This is about spoilers. Nothing more.
I like that choice. I like to choose whether or not to be spoiled, and in what format.
I like to read a lot on spoiler websites because I like the behind-the-scenes stuff. I like to read about casting news. I like to see early renderings, blurry updates, and so forth. But that’s my choice to see those.
Watching a trailer (including ones shown before movies) takes away that choice. Reading the back of a book to see if the plot sounds interesting can take away that choice. And that’s my problem.
I want to be able to choose whether or not I see reasonable spoilers in my media. What’s a ‘reasonable’ spoiler in my opinion? Something from the first half of the thing. The first half of the movie. The first half of the episode. The first half of the season (preferably only first half of episode content). The first half of the book. The first half of the game.
I shouldn’t have to worry that I accidentally spoiled some major plot point or surprise or death or whatever, just because I was interested in enjoying the content enough to see the marketing for that content.
I have a solution.
In many of my posts I don’t have a solution. I only have questions or rants or observations, but this one is different.
We already have Green and Red band trailers. (The ‘band’ refers to the color that the screen is when it shows the ‘rating’ information.) Green is approved for ‘all’ audiences, whereas Red is usually reserved for more adult/rated-R stuff (heavy violence, lots of cursing, even nudity).
Why not a Blue band trailer? Or a seal / certification?
A simple color or symbol to indicate a promise from the distributor/film company that: This Trailer Only Contains Footage from the First Half of the Movie
That can’t be difficult. I know a lot of Directors and even Actors would probably love it if that was an option. Many people don’t want to know how the next Nolan film is going to end, or see all the big action set pieces from the latter half of the next major Superhero film. Many people don’t want cameos or surprises spoiled for episodes that won’t air for 2-3 months.
So let’s get on this! Blue band trailers or Seal / Certification of Spoiler-Free Viewing, whatever you like, let’s bring that choice to those who want to enjoy the film unspoiled! It’s really not a crazy thing to ask for.
I’ll be honest, I really debated whether or not to give more specific examples of movies or books, but I figured it was antithetical to my point and desire to do so. But just imagine being able to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Se7en or a million others without knowing the big things that everyone seemingly knows already?