We live in a society where asking for a trigger warning is seen as some sort of social disease yet it’s perfectly okay to threaten someone if that person spoils a plot point in Star Wars. Which baffles me because I just don’t understand why knowing something about Star Wars would spoil it. It’s complete moon logic when you really think about it.
I haven’t gotten the chance to see The Force Awakens yet, but I already know the whole basic plot from the Wikipedia page. Yes, I know who that character is and I know about that scene. I don’t feel robbed in the slightest. It’s not going to lessen how much I do or don’t like the movie when I finally get to see it because it never does. I do this all the time.
Look at it this way…there are a ton of people right now who are watching the Star Wars saga for the first time. At least two friends have asked me what order to watch the films in so they can prepare for Episode VII (Machete Order, of course). These are both kids and adults who have for some reason or other never consumed the 13 hours worth of film and are now joining the rest of us.
Every single one of those people is going into the experience with a spoiler. No matter how ignorant or ambivalent a person might be about Star Wars, there is zero chance that he or she is unfamiliar with the “No, I am your father” scene. It’s one of the most (if not the most) famous plot twists in film history, and it’s been aped, parodied and paid homage to for more than three decades. It is a cultural milestone. No one watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time will ever not see that revelation coming. At best that person will think, “Oh, this is THAT scene.”
Heck, by the logic of the hardcore anti-spoiler crowd, the entire prequel trilogy should be pointless. How can you enjoy the movies or identify with Anakin at all knowing that he falls to the Dark Side? The only prequel on Earth that isn’t plagued by spoilers is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the only reason that’s true is that no one remembers it’s a prequel.
Or take my favorite show, Doctor Who. If you watch Doctor Who for any length of time, you will come to an episode where you know for absolute fact The Doctor is going to die in it. It’s heavily announced ahead of time. The new Doctor is already waiting in the wings. When Matt Smith was replaced with Peter Capaldi two Christmases ago, the experience wasn’t any less emotionally devastating just because I knew it was going to happen. It won’t be any different when I see The Force Awakens.
Yes, there is a singular experience in being surprised. I still remember the way my heart stopped when the last line of Kill Bill Vol. 1 was uttered. It’s one of the greatest cliffhanger endings ever, and nobody I talked to saw it coming. That is an awesome thing.
It’s not the only thing, though. There is such a thing as appreciating a work of art as a complete work and not as a magic trick. There’s a reason M. Night Shyamalan is the punch line of a joke instead of a director whose next work everyone anticipates. Knowing the ending of a Shyamalan movie spoils it is because aside from Unbreakable, that surprise is the only thing going for it.
I get wanting to enjoy a movie with as few preconceptions as possible, but Star Wars isn’t really that kind of film series. It’s meant to be shared as an experience over the course of generations by new and old fans. It literally can’t be spoiled, and I’m not going to threaten your life if you want to talk about it.
Jef's book of stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is out now. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.