It’s commonplace in reviews to include fair warning whenever possible spoilers are going to be discussed, but maybe that’s less necessary than it used to be. In a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for Netflix, the online streaming service says that 21% of Americans now think it’s perfectly fine to share a spoiler immediately following a film or show’s release, while 76% say that spoilers are a fact of life and 94% say a spoiler won’t keep them from watching something. 13% of viewers even see spoilers as a positive, as it might push them to watch something they might not be interested in otherwise.
On top of that, Netflix started an interactive Spoilers site to see which famous twists audiences consider too recent to spoil and which ones they consider fair game. The site also features the quiz “What Kind of Spoiler Are You,” which determines exactly whether you’re the kind of person who blurts things out without thinking about it or the kind who codes any discussion about spoilers so only people in the know will understand.
Netflix fully acknowledges that while the change in the way we talk about spoilers has been building for years, the simultaneous release of all episodes of “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” made it near-impossible for big reveals not to leak out before certain viewers with less free time were able to watch. That’s why this survey and website are smart PR moves on top of being a fun and insightful look at how social media has shifted TV talk from around the water cooler to, well, everywhere.
Personally, I’ve never been that spoiler-averse. I prefer to not know what’s going to happen, and can recall being knocked through a loop at moments from, say, Sam Fuller’s “The Naked Kiss” or Zack Parker’s recent film “Proxy” because I didn’t know anything about them going in. But learning the fate of a major character in season 4 of “Breaking Bad” or season 1 of “Game of Thrones” didn’t kill the moments for me, either, nor were “Psycho” or “Citizen Kane” ruined by the fact that it’s near-impossible to go into “Psycho” or “Citizen Kane” anymore without knowing the big reveals. Rather, they force me to find a new way to appreciate them, turning my anticipation from “what’s going to happen?” to “how are they going to get there?” or “how are they going to earn that moment?” It’s probably still better to try to be the Coded Spoiler just in case, but it’s encouraging that fewer people are going to go nuclear when someone spoils that Soylent Green is *redacted for the safety of the author.*