It’s impossible not to have entertainment ruined these days.
I’m talking, of course, about the biggest bogeyman in pop culture: the “spoiler.”
A spoiler is the tidbit of information that gives away the twist of a movie or a book. It’s the online speculation about a character’s death that you haven’t seen yet. It’s your friend casually bringing up who was eliminated in last night’s episode of “Dancing With The Stars.”
I’ve had countless movies and shows have been spoiled over the years. Admittedly, some were my fault. After all, I think there’s a statute of limitations on spoilers. If the movie’s more than a decade old, you should have seen it by now. If you don’t know the twist ending of “The Sixth Sense” yet, God help you. No complaints.
But pop culture is now being ruined before it even happens. Trailers in movie theaters give away the plot points, show us the ending or worse. Today, even the worst movies give away the best parts in their trailers. How often have you gone to see a comedy only to realize they put all the best jokes in the trailer?
It’s as if the advertisements for “Jaws” showed — spoiler alert — Police Chief Brody shooting the shark to bits.
So for the past three years, I’ve been avoiding spoilers at all costs for one of the most hyped movies of the millennium: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
So far, I know only four things for sure about the new movie: It’s directed by J.J. Abrams, there’s a character who’s a black stormtrooper, the bad guy’s lightsaber has a hilt and the Millennium Falcon spaceship now has a square radar dish. That’s it. No more.
At first it was easy. When Disney — owners of the franchise since 2012 — would spill out details on the cast and new characters, I wouldn’t pay attention. I turned off the TV or ignored the news article.
But for the past month, it’s been practically impossible. I’ve sworn off late night talk shows, since just about every one has had “Star Wars” cast members on set to chat about the film. My Facebook feed has become a minefield of friends gushing about the latest morsel of news.
There’s “Star Wars” commercials on TV, “Star Wars” toys, “Star Wars” festivals, even “Star Wars” branded lipstick. But the most dreaded of all are the “Star Wars” movie trailers.
Teasers and trailers have become the bane of my existence. They are ubiquitous. I can’t seem to dodge them no matter how hard I try.
I can’t enjoy movies in theaters now, because each one begins with a sneak peak of the next “Star Wars” installment. I’m stuck closing my eyes, plugging my ears and muttering in my seat to avoid it all. The moviegoers next to me must think I’ve lost my mind in a kind of Star Wars-induced insanity. I’m surprised no one’s called the cops.
My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to avoid what a friend once called “set-piece spoilers,” the big moment, the explosive action scene, the shot that has your eyes boggling and blows you back into your seat in awe.
The original “Star Wars” movie had that in its first scene, when a giant spaceship loomed over the audience and blasted away with its laser beams. I remember watching that scene as a 10-year-old and having my prepubescent mind blown. It was a nerd’s dream come true.
In the years since, I haven’t felt that awe in a movie theater. After all, the best moments of a movie had already been playing on repeat across television screens for months to drum up hype.
I want that feeling again. So when the first “Star Wars” screenings kick off tonight, I’ll be going to the movies for the first time since I was a kid completely unsure of what I’m going to see. Everything on that screen will be brand new. I won’t know the characters, or the plot or where the movie’s going to take me.
It could be good. It could be bad. Who knows? At least it’ll be new.
Come opening night, I’ll be waiting in line for my ticket. And, trust me: if I see you around after the movie ends, I won’t spoil it for you.
The author is the web editor for the Times Review Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @pauljsquire (Just get in touch after the movie premieres, of course. Until then, he’ll be in hiding).