Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn provoked quite a reaction with a twitter post suggesting that spoilers can't ruin a good movie. It's a topic of much contention in the entertainment world. Some fans will pore over any tidbit of information they can get in advance of an expected film. Others demand a chance to experience it with no preconceptions.
This creates difficulty in the digital public sphere, where headlines compete for attention. Most publishers use spoiler warnings and intentionally vague headlines to give readers a chance to decide how much info they want. Even then it can be difficult to preserve a surprise, especially if the film turns out to be a hit. That can lead to anger, resentment, and some decidedly unpleasant social media interactions. DC Comics recently generated significant controversy by allowing a major newspaper to spoil a recent issue of Batman ahead of publication. But, is it possible for good movies to still be enjoyed even when spoiled?
Gunn's recent tweet suggests that, while he'd rather not spoil things for people, spoilers shouldn't ruin anyone's enjoyment of a well-crafted film. In fact, it could even heighten that enjoyment. He also makes reference to research backing this up, and later in the thread cites a specific UCSD study. Clearly, not everyone agreed.
This isn't the first time Gunn has approached the topic. A few days before the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he published a lengthy Facebook post with the same argument. His stance is pretty simple, that knowing the ending of a story doesn't diminish the pleasure of experiencing it again or even for the first time. That he put the idea out there in advance of his own movie shows more than a little confidence, both in the idea and his own skill as a filmmaker.
There's reason to believe him. Classical dramatists frequently wrote plays about stories that they assumed the viewers already knew. The pleasure was seeing how artfully they could retell the story. Likewise, the 1997 film Titanic became one of the biggest hits of all time even though people pretty much knew that the ship wasn't going to make it to New York.
None of that is to say that people who don't want their movies spoiled are wrong. A great surprise carries a unique kind of pleasure or shock, as many of those who went into Avengers: Infinity War unspoiled found out. It should be noted that Gunn isn't advocating for spoilers. Rather, it's a timely reminder that movies should foremost be fun, and if something does get spoiled ahead of time, just relax. Of course, he'll probably have to remind fans again before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes out.
Source: James Gunn
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