The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 7, 2013

Statute of limitations on spoilers?

LEANNE ITALIE
Associated Press

---- — NEW YORK (AP) — Rosebud is a sled.

So goes the ending of the 1941 Orson Welles classic “Citizen Kane,” spoilers be damned!

Revealing secret endings and plot twists has brought on wrath since the dawn of cinema, straight through VCRS to today’s DVR-fueled delays that led to much nail-biting over The Ending That Shall Not Be Spoiled on “Breaking Bad.”

But exactly what is the magic formula for spoiler grace? When do calls of SPOILER ALERT (insert index fingers in the ears here) expire so we can, maybe, not feel so constipated when discussing our favorite fare in real time?

Does the 13-episode Netflix dump of “Orange is the New Black” in July equal two months of polite spoiler-free behavior? Are bets off when a show concludes, or does that depend on how many seasons late adopters would have to slowly, slowly slog through — say Dexter’s eight to Breaking Bad’s five?

Or is it up to the unspoiled viewer to avoid social media or catch up? Get it done, people!

“I think asking people not to spoil for some reasonable amount of time is fine, although anyone who actually takes it seriously, i.e. gets mad or upset in the event someone does, is an idiot,” said technology analyst Melanie Turek in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

“But that ‘reasonable’ amount of time is, in my mind, about 48 hours after a live broadcast,” she explained. “And once a series is off the air and the hype has died down, asking people not to spoil is just silly.”

Others think keeping some things quiet — or at least warning our Facebook friends about potential spoilers — is what 21st-century etiquette might advise. At least that’s what the ragers who decry spoilers on social media hope for.

Marketer Kim Puckett in Indianapolis thinks “we’re all social media-level entertainment reviewers now” so should respect our written-word audiences on newsfeeds like Twitter or in status updates on Facebook that aren’t easy to escape.

“Unfortunately, specific status updates on key plot points might be banned forever,” she said.

But in other contexts, Puckett said, “as soon as the show ends, office and social talk should be allowed about the show. How can we enjoy shows at a social level if we’re always worried that someone is still on Season 1 of ‘The Killing’ or halfway through ‘Sons of Anarchy?’”

Justice is on the side of those who want to blab on Twitter or Facebook, according to Paul Levinson, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University and author of the book “New New, Media.”

The idea that “people have a right to be free of spoilers is absurd, and it’s an absurd misuse of the term ‘right,’” he said.