In a recent post, John Scalzi discusses whether there should be a statute of limitations on spoilers:
If there is, in fact, a spoiler statute of limitations, the question then becomes, well, how long is it? I throw that question open to the crowd, but here are my suggestions:
Television: One week (because it’s generally episodic, and that’s how long you have until the next episode)
Movies: One year (time enough for everyone to see it in the theaters, on DVD and on cable)
Books: Five years (because books don’t reach nearly as many people at one time)
Personally, I absolutely think there should be a point in time where it’s okay to discuss major plot points in a story without having someone scream at you for spoiling it. I personally don’t seek out spoilers, but I don’t think that reading them or coming across them accidentally necessarily ruins my actual enjoyment of the resulting product.
For example, well before I ever saw No Country for Old Men, even without having read the book, I knew perfectly well what happens to one of the major characters near the end of the movie. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the movie at all, and in fact it was one of my most favorite movies of the year.
Same goes for There Will Be Blood. Several of the movie blogs I read were talking about the infamous “I drink your milkshake” scene, and I ended up reading about the basic details of it before I saw the movie. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that nothing could prepare me for the sheer impact of that scene when I saw it in the film. Taking out of context it makes it sound absurd and laughable, but when you’ve followed the characters through the emotional journey that brings you that point, it makes a kind of mad sense.
I don’t think movies are the main source of spoiler accusations, however. With the advent of TV On DVD, more and more people are able to catch up on entire seasons of television shows by renting them or buying them. Within my group of friends, there are a lot of folks who only watch TV on DVD, and don’t even pay for cable. However, along with this trend has come a growing belief that the statute of limitations on spoilers never expires, even if you’re discussing a show that has been off the air for years.