Here’s a spoiler alert: My contact information will appear at the end of this column.
That’s about as important as many spoiler alerts are these days.
You know about spoiler alerts, right? It’s when people warn others that they’re going to talk about something that has already been shown on TV or is in a book that was published in 1957 (Spoiler alert: The Dodgers and Giants both moved west after the ’57 season). Spoiler alerts are to warn people about things that might ruin an entertainment experience for them – or to show that we’re plugged in, yet sensitive to others.
For a large part, they’re balderadash. (Spoiler alert: That’s also the name of a board game where you try to fake a definition of the word).
Why can’t we talk about things that have already happened? I’m not a fan of “Breaking Bad” (Spoiler alert: It ended Sept. 29), but I was really put off by the need for people to alert others that they were going to talk about what happened to character Walter White (Spoiler alert: Played by Brian Cranston, who was the father in “Malcolm in the Middle”) . . . two or three days after the program ended!
Really? If something is on TV on Sunday, you have to keep quiet about it for a week in case someone recorded it?
Based on that theory, you shouldn’t talk about a Sunday football game (Spoiler alert: NFL games are beating the baseball playoffs by a 2-to-1 margin in the Nielsen ratings) until Thursday or Friday – just in case a co-worker or friend has recorded the game and hasn’t watched it yet.
Would you do that? Of course not. Spoiler alerts are ridiculous.
They make sense only in limited ways – books and movies, for a limited time, for instance.
There are movies such as “Gone With the Wind” (Spoiler alert: The North wins the Civil War) or “The Wizard of Oz” (Spoiler alert: It’s a feverish dream) that might not be as enjoyable if you know the finish. But you only have to keep quiet for a year or so, because anyone who hasn’t seen it by then doesn’t deserve to be protected.
Although I’d argue that there are certain movies, such as “The Sixth Sense” (Spoiler alert: I won’t tell you what happens, although it involves Bruce Willis being replaced by Ashton Kutcher) and “Psycho” (Spoiler alert: Norman thinks he’s his mother. Or something like that.), that are ruined by knowing the finish. You might keep quiet longer on them.
Same thing with books (Spoiler alert: electronic books brought in more revenue than hardcover books for the first time in the first quarter of 2012). If there’s a book with a twist at the end, don’t give it away for a while. After two or three years, though? You can talk about it.
It would have come in handy in the early 1990s when my friend Kevin asked what book I was reading. I told him: “Presumed Innocent,” by Scott Turow.
He said (Spoiler alert: Kevin is about to give away the last page of the book!) “Oh, the one where the wife does it?”
“Thanks. I am still reading it,” I told him.
He ruined the book. He spoiled it. The book was still new!
So there’s the rule: Spoiler alerts are OK for books and movies – for a year or so.
They’re not needed for TV shows.
Or music, by the way (Spoiler alert: at the end of “One Tin Soldier” by Coven, the “treasure” that the townspeople killed to get is a rock that says “peace on Earth.”).
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.