Spoiler Alert! The term itself resounds in an alarming buzz of what needs to be avoided at all costs. And that’s what we do indeed, lambasting those who seem to derive some kind of wicked fun in ruining the suspenses and surprises that we occasionally look out for our senses to indulge in, as perhaps yet another way in escaping the boring predictability of real living. Striving then to escape also from falling ‘prey’ to these spoiler agents make for quite an activity to be upbeat about then- something we would rather be better off ‘bored’ without.
It seems to be universal then- this stream of consciousness we are led to pursue in all due care so that our most anticipated movie or show manages to live up to that excitement of what we expect out of it. In fact so devotedly we guard ourselves from such intent of malicious character that those devils masquerading in our midst under the human guise are shunned- very literally indeed. With more than sure threats of finding ban upon digital platforms or finding oneself shunned as well for real, spoilers being alerted out in the boldness of disclaimers is a necessity indeed.
This however is one side of the story and despite it being overwhelming in its popularity, the other strand of the narration too would do well in attending to what he does. Contrary to a cancelling out in unison of the spoiler culture- and despite the all assertive prominence of it, giving out spoilers need not always attend to the ‘diabolical’ end of what it is believed to pursue.
For what science has proved as part of its nature to validate or thrash the empiricality or otherwise of pretty much every phenomenon that it cares to consider is the fact striking in its revealing of the purposefulness of an entire culture primarily aimed at spoiling all the fun indeed. Turns out that giving away the crux of a story tends to make it more enjoyable for the one at the receiving end of this important but unwanted still piece of information. That might be quite a fact to go ‘whoa’ about but not so much when you get to know that there actually exists such people in the world who need to know the twist or the climax of a narration before digging into its now supposedly less exciting premise.
No wonder spoilers have managed to survived the fury of the world and continue to be fairly spread out a species of humans themselves, considerable as well in their count. But while it might be such necessity of spoilers doing a job not commonly known to exist that is what has probably seen it as a phenomenon at work all through the times the origin of the term itself would be rather recent. It had been a mere half a century ago when ‘spoiler’ came to assert as an imprint in history, when American humor magazine National Lampoon carried an article prominently entitled such in its April 1971 issue.
A sarcastic penning by co founder Doug Kenney would be this piece that lived up indeed to the name- and fame- of itself. Prior to that, spoiler would be very liberal a notion in intending that did not thrust all its faculties exclusively upon an essence of the excited essentially evoked by prospects of the entertaining. The allusions of it in such context though would be still occurring since much earlier but nowhere would it occur even in such common sense to name something that spoiled enjoyable experiences simply as spoiler!
It still would be common sense to deduce that having an unwanted, uncontrollable access to spoilers is a more emphatic expression encountered along the extents of the internet. With people having unrestricted access to pretty much everyone and there being not in place the most efficient system of filtering and regulating who shared what, sharing something as ‘harmless’ as pieces of information, no matter how significant they might be in individual considerations, could not really be controlled indeed, specially when they would not occur as matters of legality even. And so has the term been doing the rounds of the world wide web pretty much ever since its early days, as something that was rendered a route to smoothly sail through in all its pervading the reaches of the world curated by those whom it did concern indeed.
In its entirety as that glaring giveaway- not of gifts for sure, expressed in the full phrasal ‘red flag’ of a spoiler alert, it would be the year of 1982 according recognition to the full blown essence of the phenomenon. Emerging upon the still fairly new world of the web had been this now rampant striking of the reds, developing and evolving and expanding to such extents that would come to be undoable over the years. The fodder for this definiteness to grow upon happened to be the Star Trek series, specifically the then impending release of the second offering of The Wrath of Khan, building up on which the ‘trend’ caught on in much seriousness as giving away spoilers being a real threat that would dictate the buzz around pretty much every majorly anticipated movie- now assuming relevance in every such prospective biggie of fiction.
Why spoilers spoil indeed the experience so much for the one at the receiving end of such unwelcome dissemination of ‘lucrative’ information that has even led them to be pitied as ‘ the spoiled’ does not call for much explanation. Because it is easy to see where it comes from- the disappointment in not experiencing first hand the flairs afforded by fantasy translating to this close second of not getting to ‘live’ by oneself the moments of that curious realisation. But if this is so natural a thing, or a feeling rather, to be angered and frustrated and annoyed by the deviousness of that action, why do some people seem to rather enjoy this process of what would occur perhaps as ‘psychological trespassing’?
Even when you are still someone actively seeking to avoid the nefariousness in intention of what plays out through the plot reveals and the spoilers, there exists a fair probability of enjoying the aftereffects of this weirdly gratifying experience. Which is why some of us almost religiously give in to the temptation of reading the last page of a novel as the first thing we do when we lay our hands upon it. Some others may still resort to browsing in all intentionality the expanses of the internet in availing for themselves the ‘pleasure’ of knowing how it ends even when they are already in the middle of it.
The reasons may be myriad and the factors as diverse when it comes to accounting for this supposed anomaly at work. But the truth prevails that spoilers need not necessarily be alerts to be avoided altogether- they might as well be alerts to look out for in granting the senses an experience of greater satisfaction.
What strikes as rather unexpected a blow in the most ordinary considerations of what might be explaining in part the secret joy we harbour in these deliberate divulgences is the human affinity for predictability. Despite how excited we might seem to be in our chasing of something that we do not quite expect, the truth is that deep down we are hardwired in seeking familiarity over adrenaline. This stream of the subconscious is not so much a matter we consider in the heightened prospects of what the anticipation of a revelation manages to stir in us. This means that we often exaggerate the emotion we expect to experience when the ultimate reveal dawns which is what leads us to be so aggressively rejecting and cancelling of the spoilers ‘hysterically’ dominating the domains of their deciphering.
Not so much psychological a ploy that might explain our ‘hypocrisy’ in delighting perhaps in receiving spoilers even when attempting to avert the doings of them is one telling the classic tale of unduly making everything about the one big thing. No matter how pivotal to the plot that one plot twist or the climax might be, there still would be a ton of other strands weaving the story that warp around as interesting and relevant ideas in themselves.
Appreciating then these complimentary or sometime supplementary ideas in prevailing tends to be more characteristic of our dwelling in the creative process as something that affords the whole construct through individual threads of indispensability. Allowing therefore spoiler alerts to ‘affect’ us would be a truer regard that we can have for the exerting effort through which the entire creative picture painstakingly pans out in a deceiving almost degree of ease.
Another way that the faculties of the creative strive to save spoilers from disgrace asserts in a very established manner of definite marking. Perceptual fluency might thus be one basis of spoilers assuming a ‘personality’ of the guilty pleasure, though not per se. The ease or otherwise of processing and perceiving information is what perceptual fluency finds expression as. What it means for spoilers in a favourable case of their receiving is that they might bring about greater transparency and fluency in comprehension.
The enhanced experience in consuming content due to a better and clearer understanding of it is what posits spoilers as agents in making movies or shows and novels or whatsoever it is potentially spoiled occur as more enjoyable modes of indulgence. To speak in definite terms of procedural devising, knowing beforehand some crucial part of the story reduces the cognitive load considerably. And hence seeking to spoil it for someone might actually lead them to being spoiled instead with what would be a prescribed overdose of information.
Contrast this to the other possible reason why spoilers work in building up the tension and the psychology of this agent of immensely alerting intensity is quite a wonder to unravel. Knowing about the plot twist creates an anticipation, which is not any less exciting than what one anticipates already in only imagining it up. Giving away snippets of information provides therefore an additional premise for the spoiled to ponder over so that the buzz maintains its tempo.
The effect that spoilers can have in ways outside the ordinary regard of them occurs even in somewhat ‘profound’ mannerisms of arising. With the primary curiosity sated in that ultimate reveal of however unexpected a twist woven into the narrative, the attention comes to be upon the nuances instead of what sketches the personality of characters and/ or the context of as intricate importance.
Such dynamics that spoilers deal with in all their screams of an alerting proposition has over the years redefined also the dynamics themselves in which they occur. And so they has been sought out by producers even of films to keep the actual plot under wraps by letting out instead proclaimed some spoilers to keep the audience engaged. For something as starkly received- or rejected rather- in the defiant stating of facts, this intention in spuriousness eked out of spoilers is one rather ‘creative’ indeed!