Spoiler alerts, those nice little courtesy warnings before reviews. How have they garnered such a negative opinion?
Simple. People have become unreasonable in their demands for them. If you were to tweet with a friend about your favorite decade-old movie, chances are that someone would take you to task for not issuing a spoiler alert. The reasoning? They might want to see it someday. Big. Whoop. There are too many shows, books, movies, games, and other media to absorb them all. The rest of the world isn’t going to wait until you’ve seen something to talk about nor are they going to put up a spoiler alert before every media discussion.
On the other hand, revealing details of something recently released is a jerk move. So, when do you need an alert and when is one unreasonable to expect? I present the following guidelines:
1. If the dvd/blu-ray/download/other non-theatrical format has been out over 6 months, no spoiler alert required.
2. Exception to #1 is if you are talking directly to someone whom you have prior knowledge hasn’t seen the story in question. I.E. if you and your co-host review Upside Down on your podcast, no alert needed. But if I ask my sister if she’s seen Firefly over Facebook, and she says no, I shouldn’t spoil it for her.
3. If you discuss source material of an adaptation, no spoiler alert required.
4. If you discuss a poster, trailer, or you are merely hypothesizing over what you think might happen, no spoiler alert required.
5. If you discuss the merchandise, no spoiler alert required.
6. If you are discussing a book under one year old, spoiler alert.
7. If you are discussing a movie still in theaters, spoiler alert.
8. If you are discussing a tv series, wait until 2 weeks into the summer hiatus to remove the alert.
9. If discussing a periodical, like a comic issue, no spoiler alert is needed when the next issue hits the stands.
Any others? Weigh in in the comments!