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The best way to watch a movie is spoiled

spoiler movie image

(Sydney Carroll / Daily Titan)

From big Hollywood blockbusters to small indie films, movie fans often feel the same way: Don’t spoil the ending!

While this mantra has always been a part of film culture, it is especially pervasive today, where stumbling upon a plot twist is as easy as a quick scroll or notification.

However, people have turned this good-natured tip into anxiety over spoilers, preventing viewers from focusing on what’s actually important: good acting, writing and directing.

Knowing a movie’s end before watching it doesn’t necessarily spoil enjoyment of a film. In fact, the need to go into a screening with fresh eyes can be a letdown. Sometimes, the anticipation of a grand plot twist can actually diminish the enjoyment of a film.

Some people may argue that some films, like “Se7en” or “The Usual Suspects,” should not be spoiled because their plot twists are essential to the story.  However, plot twists are singular points in a story. A spoiler for the ending of a movie with no build up is meaningless.

Plot twists only work because logical foreshadowing throughout the story leads to a satisfying conclusion. Additionally, stories that rely on a twist normally have a strong narrative. Spoiling a movie actually makes people more likely to rewatch it, because people will be more likely to go back and try to find the elements that led to the twist.

Spoilers can in fact enhance the enjoyment of a story, according to UC San Diego psychology professor Nicholas Christenfeld.

He ran an experiment where test subjects read short stories across different genres. One group read the stories and rated how much they liked them, while the second group had the narrative spoiled for them before reading. 

Fascinatingly, the group that had the story spoiled for them gave the story higher ratings, suggesting that spoilers can enhance the viewing experience.

Christenfeld stated that knowing the ending of a film while watching it can help people better understand a filmmaker’s techniques. 

This results in a deeper understanding of the film, and there is evidence that this fluent processing of information is enjoyable. Essentially, a level of familiarity with a work helps someone enjoy it more.

This anti-spoiler mindset is especially noticeable among Marvel fans, who avoid spoilers like the plague. Vox critic Emily St. James discussed this spoiler obsession on NPR, dubbing it “spoiler paranoia.”

Spoiler paranoia causes unnecessary anxiety as a moviegoer. People will vigilantly try to avoid spoilers, which makes accidentally running into one a devastating blow. Seeing spoilers will cause someone to feel as if they properly enjoy the movie now, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fans that—accidentally or not—dare to discuss spoilers among fans that have not seen the movie yet are sometimes met with unreasonable levels of anger and disgust.

Additionally, fans have created a culture of hype around these films. While this can create amazing traction for Marvel, fans have built unrealistic expectations for these movies, almost focusing more on the hype than the movies themselves.

This reliance on hype to carry a movie to high ratings only encourages production companies to make subpar movies. By waiting for every new twist and turn, viewers cannot fully immerse themselves in the story.

As St. James described, spoiler paranoia has even affected moviemaking period. In the case of “Avengers: Endgame,” actors had to recite their lines with any unrelated scenes redacted. And while this hush-hush attitude may prevent plot leaks, it weakened the first part of the film by filling valuable runtime with shots of a single actor.

This can also negatively affect the actors, such in the case of actor Sebastian Stan who plays Bucky Barnes in the Marvel franchise. According to a Comic Book Resources article, he found “Avengers: Endgame” difficult to shoot because he lacked the proper context for his scenes. Many actors were even given fake scenes to prevent any plot leaks. 

To beat spoiler paranoia, people should accept that spoilers can be found anywhere online or in person. Instead of worrying about them, learn to embrace them instead.

It is impossible to shut out opinions about popular films entirely, so there is no point in trying to run from spoilers.

People should also try not to let the spoilers affect their moviegoing experience. Challenge the thought of a singular movie moment trumping all other aspects of a film — ultimately missing the big picture.

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