This article contains spoilers, although you probably already know all of them anyway.
I like spoilers.
I’m the type of guy who, part way through a book, will skip forward to the end to see how everything turns out. When I saw The Crying Game, I already knew Dil’s big secret. When I saw The Sixth Sense, I knew already knew that Crowe was dead the whole time he talked to Cole. I already knew that Verbal was Keyser Soze, and that Tyler Durden wasn’t really his own man, so to speak.
In every instance, I already knew about the big secrets before I’d even seen the movies. And you know what? I still enjoyed them all.
I enjoyed those movies because they have good stories, not because of some cheap thrill in discovering that the filmmaker had pulled a fast one on us. I cared about the characters. I cared about what happened to them, even knowing their secrets, knowing how things turn out for them in the end.
And you know what? I’m not alone.
In 2011, UC San Diego students Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt published a study where they determined that not only do spoilers not ruin a story, they actually cause people to enjoy the story more.
According to another poll conducted last year on behalf of Netflix, “76% of Americans say spoilers are simply a fact of life.” According to that same poll, “94% say that hearing a spoiler doesn’t make them want to stop watching the rest of a TV series. And 13% report that a spoiler actually makes them more interested in a show they hadn’t seen or weren’t planning to watch”
Netflix and, by and large, the internet itself have played a huge role in the existence of spoilers. With sites like Netflix and Amazon taking to the practice of releasing entire seasons of shows at once, the race to watch them before the endings are spoiled is all but futile. Netflix has even gone so far as to make a game out of it with their Living With Spoilers page, where users can find out what kind of spoiler they are, as well as vote on which spoilers have passed the statute of limitations and are thus free to be shared.
Watching the original Planet of the Apes, it doesn’t matter to me that I already know Charlton Heston is on the Earth the whole time, no matter how surprised he is to find out about it at the end. Not only does knowing that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker the whole time doesn’t make The Empire Strikes Back any less fun, it’s actually a major plot point of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series anyway.
It’s always a little amusing when a new season starts for something like Game of Thrones, and half of my Facebook or Twitter feed is filled with admonitions for people to refrain from posting spoilers. That’s mostly because the other half of my feed is filled with spoilers. Honestly, though: Is watching the massacre of the Starks at the Red Wedding any less painful knowing it was coming all along? If you’ve read the books you knew it was coming anyway.
Prolific author Stephen King agrees. When asked, during a panel he was on at the 2007 New York Comic Con, whether an upcoming Dark Tower comic series from Marvel would contain spoilers for people who hadn’t yet read the novels, he said: “There are no spoilers. You might as well say I’m never gonna watch Wizard of Oz again because I know how it comes out.”
So, instead of frantically avoiding the internet while you catch up on the latest episodes The Walking Dead or are waiting for a long weekend to binge watch Jessica Jones, revel in the the fact that, while you may already know which characters live and die, you’re probably going to enjoy the story more anyway.