Spoilers Matter

Between Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones Season 8, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker—all concluding parts for their respective stories—pop culture has been in prime “spoiler warning” territory. If you’re plugged into any sort of social media, and you don’t have the opportunity to watch things as they’re released, it can be a struggle to avoid any and all information. This also means it’s incredibly easy for a few trolls to ruin other people’s days, but what I’m even more concerned about is a recurring notion I’ve been seeing, about how people’s anger and frustration over being spoiled is some kind of sign that these works are less about art and storytelling and more about shock value and surprise. They might even say something like, “Truly good works are good even when spoiled.”

Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re not. Either way, it still doesn’t mean that a desire to go in relatively “blind” is somehow valueless. In fact, I find it to be quite rude and even a little elitist to value a work over people’s own desires to such an extent that negatively impacting their experience is somehow “okay” because it shows how “limited” both the people and their “shocking” entertainment can be. While it’s true that some things stand the test of time better than others, and that a piece of media that can be enjoyed over repeat viewings is strong in many ways, you still only get one chance to see something for the first time regardless. Just because something is even better the second or third time around doesn’t mean that the initial exposure should be diminished.

Granted, even without spoilers, “going in blind” means different things to different people. Some might have ideas as to what they think will happen, and will be bracing for the moment that their pet theories are confirmed or denied. Others might be looking at character interactions and trying to see if their chosen characters have any romantic developments. Personally, I purposely try to avoid pushing my expectations onto a work as much as possible. But whatever one’s approach, and even if a work holds up after spoilers, being aware of what happens changes the way a work is experienced. You go from trying to navigate the work on your own terms to being aware in the back (or front) of your mind that an Important Thing is going to happen. That’s not necessarily bad, but if you view a work once without spoilers and then a second time with spoilers, it means you get to have both experiences.

Note that there are a few caveats. The choice of spoilers vs. no spoilers is anything but binary, and that something as simple as a movie trailer can be “too much” for some and “not count as spoilers” for others. There’s also a difference between “being okay with spoilers” and, say, people who want advance warning on anything that might trigger them and cause deep psychological pain. And for instances where a work might come from a very unfamiliar time and culture, and not knowing the proper context can mean not catching many of the meanings and signals that are assumed to be “obvious” or “common sense” to anyone from that original time or place. Foreknowledge can be significant, but having it isn’t inherently better than not having it. First impressions can potentially be based in ignorance, but that ignorance can be corrected afterwards. You can’t take back a spoiler.

If all a film, TV show, book, or whatever has is shock value, so be it. If it has more to offer, all the better. That still doesn’t make those who wish to be surprised or who wish to focus on the unexpected somehow symptoms of an ailing entertainment industry, or make their experiences trivial. They can always come back, and if the problem is that people don’t want to revisit after the first go-around, that’s not an issue with anti-spoiler culture—that’s an issue with time and its usage. But ultimately, if people only have enough time to see something once, they should be able to do it on their terms, and not ones set by some externally imposed values rooted in notions of how “true quality” is defined.

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Forgetting Spoilers

Spoilers can be hard enough to avoid even without the internet, but in this age of Twitter, blogs, chats, Facebook, etc., it can be especially difficult.  It doesn’t necessarily ruin the viewing experience, but for anyone who’s ever had the ending to a show revealed prematurely or accidentally seen the score of a game they hadn’t watched yet, it can take the wind out of your sails a little. I have a way of dealing with spoilers already read, however, and while it isn’t fool-proof, it has worked for me on multiple occasions.

So let’s start off with some generic spoiler:

I can’t believe his dad was really a gorilla and that the conspiracy began in 1327.

First thing, don’t read that sentence again!

Now, do you have any doubts as to what it said? If so, this is good. You basically have to let the doubts in your mind make the memory of what you just read increasingly hazy. What was the sentence about? What was the big twist? If you can’t remember exactly, then the uncertainty of your memory can make even the things you know you read seem subject to ambiguity.

Once you’ve made your memories a sufficient mush, the final trick is to just let it go. Stop thinking about it, period. Give yourself some time, like a few minutes or maybe even a few hours or days, and don’t even let it cross your mind. Eventually, by the time you do think about it again, there’s a good chance the faulty elements of your short and/or long-term memory will have scrambled the spoiler to the point that it’s at least less of an issue.

Did I just create a guide to encourage doublethink? Well, best to just forget about that.

Heartcatch Precure Gettin’ All Self-Referential

Over the past few episodes, big things have happened in Heartcatch Precure. During this time, the show has made some references to past Pretty Cure series, and here’s a couple I’ve spotted.

Again, this is towards the end of the first half of the series, so there are spoiler-worthy things happening. I’d highly recommend you go watch the show before you read any further.

In episode 21, new fairy mascot creature Potpourri asks a number of characters if they could be the third Cure to go alongside Blossom and Marine, with one of the candidates being female soccer player Sayaka. When Sayaka mentions that her only skill is soccer, Potpourri assures her that in the past there have been Precure who were also good at soccer.

This refers to Natsuki Rin, aka Cure Rouge, the third in a line of Cures who are good at Sports (Cure Black = Lacrosse, Cure Bloom = Softball).

The bigger event of course is when Myoudouin Itsuki transforms into Cure Sunshine. Unlike Blossom and Marine who use “Heart Perfumes,” Sunshine uses a “Shiny Perfume.”

This is in reference to the character Kujou Hikari, aka Shiny Luminous, who was first introduced in Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart.

Further supporting this is the fact that the powers of Cure Sunshine are mainly defensive in nature, which was also the role Shiny Luminous provided to the original Pretty Cure girls.

However, the big difference here is that while Luminous never shed her protective role on the team, Itsuki comes into the team as the only trained martial artist to become a Cure, which means she balances her barriers with actual physical combat experience.

So that was just a small observation. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations on watching an excellent show and may I hope to see you once the series is over.

(SUNSHINE)^2

There’s some spoilers here, so I recommend those of you with an investment in Naruto and don’t want to ruin your experience turn around immediately.

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