Let’s Talk About Spoilers (Spoiler-Free… mostly)

Recently, a couple of friends and I got together for some socializing. The centerpiece of the evening was a showing of Se7en. To the amazement of C and myself, J had previously announced that he had never seen the movie- which is just a couple of years away from being able to order its first beer- and had no idea WHAT’S IN THE BOX!!!

This blew my mind. It also launched an interrogation of him, assisted by a few beers, prior to the evening of the showing. C and I grilled him a dozen different ways. How was it possible that he had never seen the movie? Even more incredible was the idea that the big reveal in the movie’s final scene had never been spoiled for him. He had seen the screenshots and heard Brad Pitts’ tortured repetition of the line. He knew that the box’s contents were the big question- but the answer had never been spoiled for him. How is that even possible?

Back at the turn of the millennium, I was serving the last year of my enlistment in the Air Force and was stationed at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea. 14 hours ahead of the East Coast, the pre-game events for “Super Bowl Sunday” started in the wee early morning hours of Monday on the Korean Peninsula. For decades, the Armed Forces Network had been delivering all of the events live- which some service members woke in the dark to watch. Most service members, myself included, planned to watch the re-broadcast Monday evening at one of the base’s Enlisted Clubs.

It was an interesting balance for those die-hard football fans that nevertheless chose to wait until Monday night to watch the game. (Not an issue for me. I am a casual football fan at best.) The service members who back home would have devoted the entire day to the ritual of the big game and all of its ancillary event were now forced to avoid all television and internet news with the same religious zealousness. Think of all the offhand references to the outcome of the game that pop up over the next day. How do you avoid spoiling the contest? Shut yourself in a cave, nowadays. It becomes an exercise of will.

(It was not possible, I found out, to convince anyone that the Armed Forces Network had actually been able get the Super Bowl rescheduled to Monday evening, Korea local time. My attempts to supplement my modest pay with a sizable bet giving a generous line were unsuccessful. I couldn’t find anyone willing to bet on the game’s outcome.)

So J had done this same thing- he had somehow managed to shut himself in a cave for 19 years. (At least as far as the movie Se7en was concerned.) It’s rather impressive, if you think about it. It’s on par with watching Titanic and hoping there’s a happy ending. (Spoiler- Iceberg ahead!)

Our cinematic evening was fun, as expected. We snacked on the treats thoughtfully provided by our three respective better-halves. We sampled (and finished) the various beverages acquired specifically for the get-together. And C and I watched J with anticipation as the movie drew to the end. We were waiting for his reaction as J inched closer and closer to finding out WHAT’S IN THE BOX!!!

With an acknowledgment of the irony I tell you J actually spoiled the ending for himself, just minutes before the opening of the box. As the scene’s tension grew, he casually said, “It’s probably [the box’s actual contents].” C and I could apparently be decent poker players as neither one of us reacted to his dead-on guess. The movie ended, we quickly hashed out the movie’s best points, and called it a night.

J has the longest unspoiled streak for a movie of anyone I know. For 19 years, he managed to avoid having the question of WHAT’S IN THE BOX spoiled for him. (His lucky guess not withstanding.) It’s rather impressive. Think of all of the key movie climaxes that hinge on a surprising reveal:

  • What does Darth Vader tell Luke as he clings, one-handed, to Bespin’s infrastructure?
  • Who is Keyser Soze?
  • What’s the big deal in The Sixth Sense?
  • Who is Rosebud?

Well, what do you think? What’s the longest streak that you know about for an unspoiled reveal? Don’t forget your [SPOILER] tags!


1 Comment

Filed under Essays

One response to “Let’s Talk About Spoilers (Spoiler-Free… mostly)

  1. Pingback: Chapter 117: In Which I Share A Guilty Pleasure | TMPinSYR

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