Edi­tor-at-large Jamie Gra­ham lifts the lid on film jour­nal­ism.

Total Film - - Contents - This monTh Avoid­ing spoil­ers

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.

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