The Sunday Magazine: Hey Streamers! Can You Wait 12 Hours?

As I wrote about last week the streaming services have been releasing compelling series which are full of surprises. Unfortunately, the Internet is full of idiots hellbent on spoiling those surprises. I’ve written about the sad people who must post a key plot twist within hours of the show being released. They’re jerks but it is easy enough to avoid them by staying away from the places they thrive. Except lately there has been a new front in the rush to put out that spoiler information, the big entertainment websites.

Like many I have my favorite websites for entertainment news. Whenever I find one I like, I agree to have announcements from them as part of my news feed on my phone and iPad. I like getting the alert of a new article to see if I might be interested in reading it. I’ve never had a problem with them being the source of spoilers before. Something has changed in the last few months. Now these sites are writing stories about the same thing the trolls did within hours of them being released. The problem is I wake up to them in my news feed.

The first example came with a December episode of Star Trek: Discovery which was the second part of a two-part episode. In the first part there was a character which elicited a lot of speculation on who or what it was. I spent the week going back and forth trying to figure it out. That’s part of the fun. Except at 7:30 AM on the morning that the second part was released I picked up my phone to see the answer spoiled in a headline from an entertainment site. I made sure to go on to their comments section and explain to them that this was ridiculous. I also explained that I was removing them from my news feed and thus they lost one pair of eyeballs seeing their ads because I no longer would be regularly visiting.

The very next morning I smartened up and did not pick up my phone before watching the season finale of The Mandalorian and the huge surprise within that episode. After enjoying it I did pick up my phone only to see a different entertainment website with a headline spoiling that surprise. Again less than six hours after it was released a large advertiser driven entertainment site saw the need to start trumpeting it. I again expressed my displeasure and removed the site from my feed.

Only to have it happen again this past Friday with the most recent episode of WandaVision. There is a great surprise right at the end of this episode. Again I made sure not to look at my phone before watching. Just as before when I turned it over there was a different entertainment website happy to blow the surprise. At this rate I won’t have any left in my feed.

I have been thinking about a way to solve the desire of these sites to be jerks. I think the solution comes down to the streaming services. Almost all new content is released at 12 midnight Pacific Coast Time 3AM East Coast. It gives a window for these sites to get out in front before most of the US is awake. The solution is for them to move the release time from midnight Pacific to noon pacific. Now everyone is awake and can get ahead of the pinheads who feel the need to take away others’ fun and enjoyment.

So hey Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, CBS AllAccess/Paramount+, and Peacock could you please move the release time just twelve hours. That way the inconsiderate jerks can’t continue to ruin the fun for the rest of us.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Virus of Spoilers

These current days feel like Geek Mardi Gras. There is so much fun stuff happening. Part of that fun, for most, is the anticipation. As I sat in the theatre on Thursday night before Avengers: Endgame I was ready to see the ending. It is part of my Geek street cred that I have seen every Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel movie first day first showing. It matters to nobody but me. What has been an invisible merit badge on my invisible Geek Eagle Scout uniform has now become a necessity. That’s because of the scourge of spoilers.

Before I start ranting on my soapbox, I want to distinguish about what I am talking about. There are fans of any show who want to know everything including what is going to happen. They will drive to the set and take pictures from far away to try and figure out the future. I have no problems with that. That is fans being fans. The reason I don’t have a problem with that is that community generally keeps to itself. If you are of similar mindset you can find that information and willingly immerse yourself. To those groups I say keep on enjoying your fandom.

It is the other kinds, not the obsessed who will serve the other obsessed. I’m talking about the jerks who just must let you know that they know something. My first experience with this kind of idiot came in November of 1977. I had won tickets to an early preview screening of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. It was in one of the largest theatres in South Florida which held about 1,500 people. We get to the end where a fleet of small alien ships have made contact with humans on the top of Devil’s Tower. It is an exhilarating scene which feels like the payoff for what we have been watching. As the ships fly off you are made to think this is first contact. Then at this screening as loud as if he was using a megaphone some jerk says, “Here comes the big ship!” If I was sitting next to him, I would’ve whipped him with Twizzlers. When we were walking out my friends and I remarked about what a moron he was.

Those were pre-Internet days. Now it doesn’t have to be a loud-mouthed lout in the theatre. It can just be an idiot a thousand miles away who wants to ruin it for others. I don’t know when it got so bad. I know that nobody went around spoiling the key moment in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”. I prefaced every conversation with, “Have you seen it yet?” Because that is part of the communal experience of going to see a movie with a few hundred other people. My favorite time in the movie theatre has been that shared delight at a plot twist where everyone makes a noise.

Nowadays people can’t go visit their favorite internet sites for fear of having a plot point spoiled. I went on YouTube last night and because I have been watching Avengers: Endgame clips leading up to it the algorithm is going to put them at the top of the page. At 10pm near the end of the first day of showing there was a clip which someone had filmed off a movie screen titled with a key plot twist. If I could I’d turn them into the studio.

This has caused people to stay off the internet entirely until they see the movie. One set of idiots cause this. As much as I enjoy being a Geek in this period of time; those who live to put spoilers out aren’t Geeks they’re jerks.

Mark Behnke