Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the Spoiler Predicament

December 18, 2015 by Mark H. Anbinder

This article contains no spoilers, or at least none about "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens."

Back in 1973, Charles M. Schulz had his crabby character Lucy spoil the secret of Orson Welles masterpiece "Citizen Kane" for her little brother Linus, and for any "Peanuts" readers who didn't already know. That was over thirty years after "Citizen Kane" appeared in theatres, though. Was it still too soon?

This week, "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" opened widely in movie theatres, a decade after prequel finale "Episode III" caught us up with how Darth Vader came about. Almost from the moment of the London and Los Angeles premieres, we started hearing about people who hadn't gotten to the movie yet -- but had had the plot spoiled for them by those who had.

Episode VII opens this week.Episode VII opens this week.I realize there are people who don't believe in spoilers. Who don't think there's anything wrong with talking about the plot developments of a TV show or movie once it's possible for someone to have seen it.

I realize there are people who don't care about spoilers. Who honestly see nothing wrong with learning about plot developments themselves, before they've seen it, feeling that they can still enjoy it later regardless. Even some who seek out spoilers so they can relax rather than worry about surprises.

It doesn't matter. There are people who do care. Who do want to go into the movie theatre knowing nothing. Who prefer to experience the surprises, the reveals, the developments the way the writer and director planned them.

Respect their preferences. Take care not to talk about the surprises as you walk out of the theatre. Take care not to comment online. Not everyone can see the movie the day it opens. Not everyone can stay away from Facebook for a week.

Already, I've heard of people callously sharing details from "The Force Awakens" in public discussions -- even hockey forums -- because they don't care what others prefer, don't respect how others want to enjoy a movie, or even worse, think it's funny to ruin someone else's enjoyment. Opening weekend has barely begun.

How long is long enough to wait? That Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father has entered the public consciousness. We can talk about that after 35 years. The twist in M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 film "Sixth Sense" became his trademark. And yet, if you find someone who hasn't seen the movie and doesn't know, you'd be a better friend to encourage them to watch it than to blurt out the secret.

It's been almost 75 years since "Citizen Kane" hit the silver screen, and over 40 years since Schulz gave away the Rosebud secret.

Let's give people a couple of weeks to get to the cineplex to see "The Force Awakens" before we assume everyone's seen it. And even then, let's ask if our friends are ready to discuss it before we blurt anything out.

Don't spoil. Don't reveal. Don't disrespect.

That way lies the Dark Side.

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