Yesterday’s MS-QOTD referenced (but did not fully reveal) one of the spoilery moments from the new Avengers movie, causing one Faithful Spoilerite to remark on how callously commonplace it has become to find casual revelations of shocking moments that might adversely affect other people’s enjoyment.  Ironically for someone who has spent half a decade writing for a site called ‘Major Spoilers’, I routinely try to avoid big plot reveals, preferring to make indirect references in respect to those who don’t (or don’t want to) know.  Part of that stems from an incident in college where I was chastised by a schoolmate for joking about the spoiler at the end of Citizen Kane, a movie then half-a-century old!

The MS-QOTD (pronounced either “Romanadvoratrelundar” or “Fred”) is one of personal choice:  How long is long enough to wait before a spoiler is no longer a spoiler?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Orillion
    May 11, 2012 at 11:56 am — Reply

    For a movie, I’d say if it’s in theaters, or is widely regarded as both amazing and having a major plot twist (Fight Club, et al.) then it’s still in Spoiler Territory. For movies like the Avengers which are good, but by no means groundbreaking works of film art, I’d say during its theatrical run it’s in Spoiler Territory.

  2. Foolsmask
    May 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    I agree with Orillion. If you want to be polite then don’t spoil the movie while its in theaters.

  3. May 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    Agreed. Once it’s out on video it’s fair game unless it’s a special case like Fight Club or Sixth Sense (but those should be fairly rare.)


  4. May 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm — Reply

    You know, when Star Wars Episode I came out, I jokingly shouted “Spoiler alert: Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader!” at the theater. While most people laughed, one man actually screamed at me that he didn’t know that yet and that I had ruined the movie and actually went and got the manager (who actually laughed at the guy and told me to please not spoil the movies with a wink and a smile from trying not to laugh again).

    As for the question: I agree with the above that while a movie is in theaters, it is probably still a good idea not to spill the secrets without a spoiler tag. However, I think once the movie is out on DVD for two weeks, maybe three, spoilers can be freely spilled.

    If it is a TV series, that is a bit trickier. I’d say it no longer requires spoilers after a month (and thats being generous), since in this day and age it is fairly easy to see something once it is aired thanks to things like On Demand, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. However, if it is something not native to your area (such as when Doctor Who aired some time later in the US than it did in UK), then I’d say a month after it has aired in your respective area.

    • May 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm — Reply

      For a currently airing, multi-season show, I’ve always adhered to the “no spoilers from the CURRENT season” rule. Meaning that I’ll tell what Jack Bauer did in 2004, as long as it’s at least 2005.

      • May 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm — Reply

        That’s a good point (and part of why it is tricky). I wasn’t really thinking in terms of multi-season series that have ongoing storylines for some reason. Considering the majority of what I watch is like that, I’m a bit surprised at myself.

  5. brenton8090
    May 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    To anyone who thinks that *SPOILER* the Chitauri and Thanos were big Avegners spoilers, they clearly weren’t paying attention. I work with 10 year olds who predicted that. It’s not like it’s a Shaymalan movie.

    The REAL spoiler is still a close secret. You know the one. About why they’re called the Avengers…

  6. May 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    It depends on the focus of the movie and/or show.

    SCRUBS was about the funny. It had a lot of really powerful emotion to it, but generally it was about making you laugh. So I don’t think anything is spoiled by the discussion of Turk and Carla’s relationship, their struggles getting pregnant, and the eventual baby they have. It’s a wonderful story but it doesn’t spoil anything knowing that. You’re still going to watch the show and have a lot of fun.

    DOCTOR WHO, however, is about what’s going on, what people’s motives are, why relationships exists, and how the Doctor is going to figure things out and save the day. There’s a lot of mystery and intrigue to the show that would be deflated if say, you knew before you met her, who River Song was/is and what part she plays in the Doctor’s story. A big part of enjoying DOCTOR WHO these past three seasons has been trying to figure that out and I wouldn’t want to rob someone of that.

    I take the same rule and apply it to comics, movies, and books. Age doesn’t matter. Everyone should get a chance to experience it for themselves.

  7. May 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm — Reply

    I think I agree with the “when it hits video” statute of limitations on spoilers. Provided of course the film doesn’t rely on a particular plot twist. If the plot twist is important (and not, say, the best cop friend betrays the hero midway through), then I’d give it…ten years?

  8. Oldcomicfan
    May 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm — Reply

    Dude, the site and podcast are called Major Spoilers. Spoil away. Of course, it would be mean to give away an important plot point the first day a movie is out in the theater, but waiting until it’s out on video (6 mo.) is a big too long of a wait, and the idea of waiting 10 years is ridiculous. I’d say give it a couple weeks to a month, tops, if I had to suggest a limit. But I’d just as soon you spoil as soon as you feel the urge, so long as you announce that you’re about to spoil it in enough time to bail if I don’t want to hear it.

    Speaking of Citizen Kane, a Peanuts cartoon from thirty years ago, where Lucy spoils it for Linus, spoiled the ending of the movie for me long before I ever saw it. :) But in the old days, before VHS, Betamax, DVDS, etc., there wasn’t very many opportunities to watch old classic movies.

    Oh, and speaking of spoilers… Aerith Gainsborough dies.

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