Let’s talk spoilers

I love being surprised. I love watching a drama or movie with no inkling of what is coming up or who is appearing next.

Take my current crack drama, The Princess’s Man. When the villain of the story first appeared in Episode 1, he seemed vaguely familiar but I just could not remember where I had seen him. (Maybe years ago, I thought.) It took six episodes before it suddenly clicked. Good grief, this was Kim Young-chul, the same actor who played the sweetest father ever in Life is Beautiful – a drama I had watched at the beginning of this year. That realization bemused me to no end; even now I still grin when I recall that moment when the light bulb in my head switched itself on.

I don’t know how it started, but even as a child I somehow knew to avoid spoilers. Every time I read a new book, I would savor it line by line, page by page; I never skipped ahead. If I had to stop reading for whatever bothersome reason (school, sleep, homework), I marked where I stopped with scraps of paper or simply folded a small corner of the page. It was terribly important that I return to the exact spot later (and I could not wait to return!). God forbid that I should open the book wrongly at page 20 if I last stopped at page 12.

As I grew older, my distaste for spoilers grew more entrenched. If my family was watching a movie adaptation of a book that I was in the middle of reading or planned on reading but hadn’t yet started, I would shut myself in my room and cover my ears. I wasn’t the least bit curious about what they were watching and no amount of teasing or baiting would get me to relent. After all, when the time was right I would find out the story for myself. In the meantime, shush. Don’t tell me anything!

Recently, however, I read an article that astonished me. Titled Spoilers Don’t Spoil Anything, the author (who reads books from the back and not the beginning) cites the results of a study suggesting that spoilers actually enhance one’s enjoyment rather than ruin it. Imagine that!

No, I can’t. My imagination (and I happen to possess a rather unruly one) cannot begin to comprehend how spoilers can be beneficial. How can I laugh with abandon when I know a joke in advance? How can my heart break when I’ve been forewarned that it’s going to break? How can I gasp with delight when I see my hero kissing his sweetheart for the first time, having known for a whole week that he’s going to be doing it because the preview gives that fact away?

But maybe I’m fighting a losing battle. In the New York Times article Spoiler Alert: Whodunit? Wikipedia Will Tell You, author Noam Cohen says: “In an age of information overload, it is getting harder and harder to preserve mystery and surprise in entertainment.”

Maybe I shouldn’t even fight so hard. Because just this week a spoiler of sorts gave me immense pleasure, how embarrassing.

You see, normally I avoid previews of upcoming episodes, like I avoid stills and teasers of upcoming dramas and movies. But so lost was I in my thoughts after finishing Episode 22 of The Princess’s Man, I forgot to stop after the credits had rolled. And so that was how I spied for the first time Chun Jung-myung all decked out as a baseball player for his new drama. Oh my goodness.

(Yes, there was smiling and squealing aplenty, need you ask?)

So I guess I should be more open toward spoilers, eh? Or maybe I shouldn’t decide until I hear from you first.

Just a simple poll to get us thinking and talking about spoilers. Are you a hardcore spoilerphobe (like me) or do you actively seek out spoilers and even share them? Do you agree with the first article that spoilers don’t spoil a thing and that the human mind actually prefers the predictable to the surprising? Or do you agree with the second article that the giving away of spoilers is “vandalism of another person’s potential pleasure”?

Speaking of that “potential pleasure,” increasingly I wonder if I’m pursuing personal pleasure at the expense of community bonding. Like I said at the beginning, surprises are huge for me and I derive much thrill from the unexpected. I love the suspense of not knowing ahead.

At the same time, though, I realize I am depriving myself of a lot. There’s nothing like camping out on Soompi or Cadence the night that a final episode airs. Oh, the excitement! Give us spoilers, please!

I guess you can see that I’m a little torn, haha. How about you?


119 thoughts on “Let’s talk spoilers

  1. I’m neutral on this, not because I don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s that if I actually cared about not getting an ending spoiled, then my whole life would have been hell, because NOBODY likes to give spoilers away like my family, seriously. For example, when HP 5, 6 and 7 came out respectively, I was in Mexico on my yearly summer vacation and early B-day gift, so my sister was in charge of buying the HP book for me as soon as it came out, and each time she read it before I got back home so that when I called each weekend during my vacation she could give away parts of the book… If I had been a spoilerphobe, for whom spoilers really do spoil the story then I would never have read any of the books.

    However i do have a convenient trick, which is I can forget what I want to forget whenever I want to. Really. I read those books like I had never heard a word about them, as if it was a completely new experience. I often do that in movies too I forget the trailers I’d watched about it and discover everything anew. I forget it so thouroughly that my friends laugh at how I could be surprised at such and such turn of events since it was obviously depicted in the trailers… I think I developed this mechanism due to the spoiler happy environment I grew up in^^

    • I think we have the same family, Min. Five sisters, two brothers, mother and father read EVERY day … when we get together, we are always talking about the books we have read, have yet to read, and SPOILERS galore. After a while, you just get used to that being part of the landscape. My sisters who are in the k-drama loop also can’t help but spoil them …. SIGH. I think of it as lacking impulse control.

      • sigh…. this happened to me recently… I started to read One Day recently (i’d even avoided the movie), and my sister who’d read it during the summer told me the ending… and it took me a while to get the sadistically inserted(by my sis) thoughts out of my head and be able to finish.

  2. I generally hate spoilers. I end up spending the whole episode waiting for the spoiler scene as opposed to focusing on what’s happening at the moment. Little story– while I was watching Scent of a Woman I saw what I thought was a spoiler for the next episode. I waited the whole episode for the spoiler scene, but it wasn’t in the that episode, but the next. It was such a let down when that scene didn’t happen when I was expecting it. I really, really *hate* that feeling.

    If the drama is good then I definitely don’t want to know what happens till it happens.

    If the drama is so-so or just bad then it matters less…

  3. I’m pretty neutral about spoilers. The only time I go to spoilers is if I can’t wait, as in, I feel like I’m going to die if I don’t know what happens next. Sometimes though, even if I have that feeling, I’ll avoid spoilers and watch the episode, because I like the drama and the story so much that there’s more enjoyment in watching the story unfold than just reading a spoiler.

    After school caught up with me, I tried reading recaps before actually watching the episodes, but I feel like that takes away from viewing pleasure and maybe I didn’t like the drama as much as I just liked reading the recaps. So now I just read plot synopses and based on that decide if I’m going to watch it and avoid any major spoilers before I get to watch it and make my own assessments.

  4. Wow, looking at the poll, I am bewildered, too (even though I’ve lived with a “last page reader” for over 30 years!) I do appreciate your tact in reviewing, Thundie. I also hate if by accident I see a blog where a someone screams “Worse ending ever!” before I’ve finished watching (a la 49 Days) or goes on and on how an extension is ruining a drama (PTB). (Loved, loved, loved both of those dramas, btw.) Hey, this isn’t rocket science, I just want to be entertained. After a year and 25+ dramas, I realize disappointment, manipulation, occasional boredom and random craziness (NTOG!) are part of the genre, but if I’m loving the characters and am **compelled**(key word, here) to keep watching till the end, the ending doesn’t necessarily negate the journey. I want to savor my authentic emotions and not be influenced beforehand by others’ rantings. (Afterwards, I do like me a good debate, tho!)

  5. Neutral – I don’t generally mind if I come across a spoiler but I don’t actively go seeking them. However on certain dramas, I avoid spoilers – a really good example of this is the new US drama series “Revenge”, which 3 episodes in, I LOVE. That is something I don’t want spoiled at all. I’ve read the spoilers regarding BBJX but those are not spoiling the drama at all and are helping appreciate it more.

  6. I don’t like detailed spoilers. I like knowing what big events are going to occur in an episode (such as someone dying, someone being exiled, etc), but I don’t want to know how it leads up to that. The process is much more important to me than the end result.

  7. There’s a reason why it’s called “spoiler”; like moldy fungus on food, it’ll turn the drama rancid. It is so much more fun to watch, read recaps, and re-watch a drama, that way, you’d watch the first time for your own enjoyment and not put all the focus on finding someone else’s findings, (do that on the second go around). Half the fun of watching a drama is formulating your own emotions and opinions. If you read spoilers/recaps first, you are subjecting yourself to someone else’s emotions and opinions before you even start watching which I think takes away a part of your enjoyment. You also lose elements of surprises from the plot and from your opinions.

  8. Sometimes it is just hard to avoid spoilers. When I read a book I like to read from beginning to end. But sometimes I just feel that a book that I am reading I can tell that something that I do not like is going to happen. In one book that I was reading the writer decided to kill one of the main characters for no reason and that is when I decided to stop reading. With the k-dramas I like to watch the drama as it airs and to read the recaps.

  9. Funny that i LOVE spoilers, when i heard about the drama “What happened in Bali” i went looking for the summary and end up reading the ending, that entirely made me want to watch the drama, “how those crazy people ended up like that? i must discover!” lol, tbh is hard to avoid being spoiled unless you stay away from drama sites and forums.

  10. I really don’t like spoilers as I like being surprised so I would never read the ending before finishing the book. I don’t mind previews or trailers as they usually keep the meaty parts to themselves. However in my obsession with a drama I end up trying to find all articles based on it which ends up satisfying my urge but somewhat affects my interest.

  11. oh god, i hate spoilers. i was avoiding all kdrama websites at the height of city hunter as i am still on ep 2. months later, i am still stuck on ep 2 and i have no idea when i’ll be able to watch the whole thing. maybe i should just go ahead and read all the spoilers… 🙂

  12. Ah spoilers, I have a love/hate relationship with them. I think for me, it definitely depends on what I’m watching and how big the spoilers are. I remember when Harry Potter 6 came out, it took me a while to get through it so I avoided spoilers like crazy. I wouldn’t go any Harry Potter related sites and I wouldn’t discuss the books with anyone. But one day my younger brother thought it would hilarious to tell look to the end of the book and tell me who the half-blood prince was. I was devastated. I remember him trying to backtrack what he said (as I was so upset) but I couldn’t get the thought out of my head as I read it. It definitely ruined the experience for me.

    I never read recaps before I watch an episode. I usually wait to read them until after I’ve watched the episode, I think it’s because they ruin the experience for me. If you really think about it, recaps are actually huge spoilers you can read when you’re too busy or lazy to watch an entire episode. Don’t get me wrong, I love them (and you thundie). But reading about a drama is not the same as watching for yourself. Dramas are not books.

    But then again I think back on dramas and how sometimes I actively search for spoilers (though I end up hating myself afterward.) I remember last year when SKKS came out. It was the very first drama I watched as it aired. I was so addicted to the drama and sometimes the subs were so slow that I actively searched out spoilers. I hated myself for it but I couldn’t help it. I HAD to know what happened next. This is actually the reason that I’ll sometimes avoid watching dramas while they air.

    Right now, I’m watching The Princess’ Man (I’ve marathoned 10 episodes in two days) and I’ve been going insane avoiding spoilers (technically I’ve been avoiding them since July when it started airing.) It’s hard. I love dramabeans OT but it’s sad how some people lack proper etiquette when comes to talking about dramas. I mean, is it really that difficult to write ******SPOILER****** so I can hurry up and scroll down and skip your post?

    And then there’s tumblr. It’s nearly impossible to avoid GIFs of episodes that have just aired the same day. Earlier this year when Dream High had aired it’s final episode, I couldn’t watch it until the next week so I avoided any website that spoil it for me. I really didn’t want to find out who Hye-mi (?) would end up with, or who was K. But silly me, I forgot about tumblr and I saw a gif of Sam-dong as K. It didn’t ruin the ending for me, per se, but it definitely could have.

    Overall, I think I’m a spoiler freak. I hate them but sometimes (especially when subs are slow) I find them necessary.

  13. How I feel about spoilers depends largely on what genre I’m watching. For fluffy rom-coms, I don’t care much whether I get spoiled or not. But for action, suspenseful shows like City Hunter, I’d avoid spoilers.

  14. I hate spoilers with the heat of a thousand burning suns, and avoid them at all costs.

    One word can lead your mind down the path of a spoiler. I hate when people say things like, “The bank teller is important!” because I WILL deduce from that. Not ALWAYS necessarily correctly, but my little mind hamster will be flying on its little wheel, looking for any hints of the bank teller in the library, holding the wrench? For that reason alone, I would rather not know ANYTHING beforhand. I want to watch the story unfold, and experience it as the production company intended. I LOVE TO GASP! I love being shocked. I LOVE surprise endings. I love when writers successfully mess with you and lead you down the wrong path. If I am ever a writer, I will try to do this for my readers.

    Luckily my family and friends know of my spoiler hatred and will alert me so I can leave the room. If in a public place, I start overhearing someone talk about a movie I haven’t seen yet, I will do the “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you. lalalalalalalalala” thing.

    Oh and the people I really detest? When you are reading Episode 11 recap – because I watched Ep 11 — and somebody decides to put his/her comment “Just finished Ep 12 – OMG! I can’t believe the King DIES!” Why do they do this? What possible reason would that person have to do this? Do they have impulse issues – like flashers? They can’t help themselves? I actually asked someone that once on a boad. He/She apologized profusely, and the moderator removed the first comment and ensuing replies. I just don’t get it. These people are SPOILERS out to spoil my fun. Sheesh!

  15. When it comes to books I love spoilers. (Heck, the first thing I do is read ending.) My mom is surprised by that, but I often tell her that conflicts become resolved along the way. I still enjoy the journey to the ending and seeing how it ties it together. Although I knew how Autumn Tale ended, it still didn’t prevent me from enjoying the drama, and same for few others that I’ve seen. Sometimes if I feel anxious I do seek out spoilers to see how a conflict or whatnot will resolve itself. I don’t like being kept in suspense actually.

  16. Being on the internet and searching makes it hard not to see/read spoilers.
    Especially when I’m looking for a old(ish) drama, like this drama called Story of a man, and someone somewhere in a comment for a new drama spoiled something about said old drama. I’m not gonna say what, because that in itself is a spoil. So now I’ve just been trying to forget a name in that drama, so I can keep watching it, and sometimes I forget names, so that’s good.

    And when I was watching City Hunter on a streaming site and were supposed to watch episode 19 part 5, but instead i saw the screen for episode 19 part 6. Damn what a freaking spoil!

    Someone spoiling a twist-ending is the worst, how I love twists in storytelling.
    So I hate spoils, but it’s hard not to spoil, especially when it’s not something new and people make references to it all the time. Well, maybe I’m a bit used to spoils now.

    Still, damn you spoiling spoilers.

  17. i guess spoilers or previews help amp up the hype or suspense surrounding the previous episode. in my perspective, previews actually do pique my interest, but spoilers, gahh.. that’s one of the reasons i watch videos only after all the subs and episodes are out. because by then, most of the news or issues surrounding the drama would have sorta ceased by then( well, here’s hoping. lol)
    and as i like reading comments of others, i get spoiled sometimes. i know they are just excited about the show, but couldn’t they just keep it to themselves or warn people so that those who want to know and don’t want to know benefits equally?
    thanks for the post thundie(?):)

  18. is reading recap before watch the episode count as spoiler? if so, then i love spoil myself. but actually, for me, reading recap do help me to determined whether the drama worth my time of watching it or not, since i’m not only spend an hour to watch but another hours to download or stream. but i do hate preview at the end of an episode, simply because i have to wait for a week full of speculation and expectation and so on depend on the content, and that definitely tainted my brain and my mood for the whole week even more before i get myself recap for the said episode.

  19. I’m late to the party…. 🙂 but I can’t decide if I hate spoilers or love them. Knowing spoilers sometimes stop me from thinking what will happen next for the entire week until the new episodes come out. I was watching TK2H (it’s an unpredictable ride all the way), and I was generally happy that there are spoilers to keep my sanity intact…until episode 13-15. The spoiler totally sapped out all the tension for that particular plot arc, and I hate the spoilers for that.

  20. I hate spoilers…it totally ruins the suspense of the drama i’m watching. Like now i’m currently watching Innocent Man.i watched it just because of song joong ki but after a few episodes i realized that it was really a great drama where i actually cried and symphatize with the main characters..i got so hooked up with the story that i didn’t realized that i am at episode 15 (this drama consist of 20 ep btw). i was so excited to know what will happen in the next episodes that i search for a summary or reviews of it and even the comments (in youtube) of those who watched it..unfortunately what i did was wrong coz when i get back on watching the drama i noticed that i cannot connect with the story anymore..i ‘ve watched the parts where the viewers said they cried but i dont know why i did’nt..i think its because i already know what will happen in the story that the thrill and excitement and suspense i’ve felt before was lost..i really regret what i’ve done so i wont do it next time i watch another drama..spoilers really are spoilers

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