TXAB’s spoiler policy.

by K.W. Leslie, 24 July

In case you’re annoyed ’cause I spoiled something.

When you’re introducing your kids to the Star Wars movies, do try not to show ’em Episode III before Empire Strikes Back.

Not that a lot of parents in my circle do, ’cause Episode III is rated PG-13, and a lot of ’em take that rating very seriously. ’Cause—and here the spoilers begin—horrific third-degree burns, y’know. But if parents do show their kids Episode III before Episode VI, it means the children are gonna find out Vader’s the father of two protagonists of the ’70s films, Episodes IV through IV. And it’s gonna kill any surprised reaction they might have when Vader finally declares, “No, I am your father.”

It’s also gonna make the kids say Ewwwww! every time Luke and Leia kiss. And not just for the usual reasons kids are grossed out by public displays of affection: For the very same reasons I say Ewwwww when they make out. Yeah right George Lucas knew their backstory all along.

Star Wars nerds tend to recommend watching ’em in the order of the original Star Wars movie first (which later got renamed Episode IV: A New Hope), then Empire, then I to III (and some of ’em point out you can easily skip the kinda-slow Episode I: The Phantom Midichlorians), then Return of the Jedi. This way the kids build up a smidgen of sympathy for Annakin/Vader before Return, because if all they see are the ’70s movies, they’re gonna think, “Why on earth does Luke think he can reform him?”

And then expose ’em to The Force Awakens, and all its sequels. And the stand-alones, the TV shows, and the Holiday Special.

The bonkers thing is when I mention the whole “Who’s your daddy?” deal to people, and they immediately respond, “Dude, don’t spoil Star Wars for me.”

Um… these are 40-year-old movies. If you’re over the age of 13 and haven’t seen ’em yet, that’s on you.

I admit I myself don’t worry much about spoilers. If somebody lets slip how a movie ends, oh well. I don’t like surprises, so sometimes I’ll actually go find out a movie’s ending before I see it. Fr’instance when Batman v. Superman: Dawn of the Marthas came out, I heard some people complain it wasn’t very good; at least not in comparison with previous Superman and Batman movies. I wanted to know why, so I popped over to its Wikipedia page and read the plot. And Wikipedia gives away endings. True, there were a few surprises the director and producers wanted me to see in the theater, but tough: I wanted to know about ’em now.

Does doing this ruin the movie for me? Nah. People re-watch good movies all the time. Despite knowing the endings, because they’re good movies. If Batman v. Superman sounded any good, regardless of my knowing the ending in advance, I’d go see it anyway. But after the Wikipedia summary, I decided to skip the theater and watch it on home video. Wound up seeing the “extended edition,” which was 3 hours 2 minutes instead of the theatrical 2:21. It was okay. Still not happy Batman kills people in it: Trying to avoid guns and killing is kinda the one thing Batman’s known for. But the producers decided “Meh,” so now the Batmobile has machine guns. Meh.

Not that I blog about movies all that often. But I figure I may as well preemptively spell out my spoiler policy. So if you bellyache about my spoiling anything in future, I’ll refer you to this rant.

Enough prologue. The policy:

If it’s a brand-new book, movie, TV show, or whatever, I seldom give away the ending. Unless it infuriates me, like the end of The Life of David Gale, so I’m warning you before it enrages you. It’s not my intent to ruin anyone’s entertainment, but sometimes I feel I just gotta wave people away from the trainwrecks.

Usually I don’t spoil new stuff ’cause I haven’t yet seen it myself. When new things are released, I feel under no obligation to run to the theater or bookstore right away, stand in a ridiculous line, and put up with unnecessary fans who care way too much about it.

Likewise television. If a show airs, I don’t have to watch it live. In fact I prefer to not watch it live, but record it and fast-forward through all the commercials. Or watch it on the internet, which sometimes has fewer commercials. Or get it from iTunes commercial-free.

However. If a movie’s been in the theater for three months, and you didn’t care enough about it to watch it already; if a book’s been in print for three months, and you haven’t even checked it out at the library; if a TV show’s been on your DVR for three months, and you keep watching other stuff first: It’s fair game.

Stands to reason if it’s a year old, or three, or 10, or 40, it’s also fair game.

But if it’s still only a few months or years old, I’ll likely warn you I’m spoiling the ending, or significant plot points. If you don’t wanna read it, stop reading.

I should also warn you: Sometimes certain plot points have been in print for years, and just haven’t made it to the movies yet. Fr’instance Wonder Woman. When it came out last month, before I saw it I casually mentioned to someone that—spoiler!—Diana’s the daughter of Zeus. Turns out that’s a major surprise at the end of the movie. But it’s how she’s been described in the comic books since 2011, so I had no idea I spoiled anything. Whoops. But that’s info from a six-year-old comic book. I don’t feel all that guilty about it.

Same as when they turn a 10-year-old young-adult novel into a movie. Or when they turn a 20-year-old TV show into a movie. Some things are already in the pop culture landscape, and you gotta bear that in mind instead of blaming me for introducing ’em to you.

In general it’s not my intent to ruin anyone’s entertainment. At the same time, it’s kinda ridiculous to have to declare “Spoiler!” every time I refer to media. Three months seems entirely fair to me.