IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A FILM JOURNALIST
Editor-at-large Jamie Graham lifts the lid on film journalism.
Jamie explains his tactics for avoiding spoilers.
Few things get film fans as hot under the collar as spoilers. No one wants to know the ending of a movie before they invest their time and cash, or the pivotal plot twist, or even the surprise cameo. Why would they? Not only do I get it, I’m exactly the same; I even refuse to watch trailers unless I absolutely have to for my job, as I’m irked by their insistence on parading every plot beat, all the best gags and each heart-in-mouth stunt.
Some spoilers are impossible to swerve. Sure, it’s annoying when an article spills the juice, let alone when it does so in the first paragraph with zero warning (one critic, who shall not be named and shamed here, is an ‘expert’ at this particular discipline). But more infuriating still is when the headline blabs, or the picture chosen to complement the text shits the bed. As for social media, we’re doomed unless we watch shows as they drop. Even when people try to be careful, what they say added to what someone else has said, and then someone else, can paint an all-too-revealing picture. The only option is to stay away from Twitter altogether until you’ve played catch-up.
I’ve been guilty of being a spoilersport myself, like the time I saw an early screening of Ready Player One and told one of my TF colleagues that he, especially, would love it – reckless given that everyone knew RPO would be hatching Easter eggs left, right and centre, and this particular colleague’s favourite movie is [SPOILER ALERT!] The Shining. Mind you, another colleague had not long before ruined the first season of The Exorcist for me, blurting out the big reveal several episodes before I got to it. And two more colleagues gave away the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, trading theories excitedly while my ears (and rage) burned red on the next desk. So yes, there are days when I have to plug in earphones to shut out all office conversation.
That’s the thing with working on a movie mag – it’s damn well impossible to avoid spoilers. And it’s not just in the That said, all of this fingers-inears, don’t-tell-me-ANYTHING! pleading can quickly cross the line into bleating. These days, film journos are often instructed that interviewees will not answer any questions regarding plot – ridiculous given it’s vital that an article at least gives an outline of the first act or else risk utter incoherence. And is it really wrong to touch upon the ending of historical movies like Peterloo, United 93 and Titanic (guess what, the boat sinks)?
Also, I’d argue, there comes a time when a movie has been around long enough to become fair game. When that is, exactly, is up for debate – could I have made the above reference to Ready Player One’s [SPOILER!] sojourn to The Overlook Hotel without the spoiler alert? – but some movies are part and parcel of our popular culture, so it has to be OK. We all know, for example, that Bruce is dead in The Sixth Sense, that Se7en ends with Gwynnie’s head in a box, and that Norman Bates dresses in his dead mum’s threads to kill the women he’s attracted to, right?
If not, you can bet I’ll be getting a tirade of abuse in next month’s letters’ page…
Jamie will return next issue… For more misadventures, follow: @jamie_graham9 on Twitter.
‘The only opTion is To sTay away from TwiTTer unTil you’ve played caTch-up’
Thanos punishes anybody who spoils movies for him.