When Is A Spoiler No Longer a Spoiler?

There is currently a headline on Digg today entitled “LOST’s Producer Breaks “Radio Silence” to Reveal Why Charlie Died and More.” If you read the comment (which on Digg, are all too frequently inane rants rolled with inside jokes), you’l see the poor submitter getting roasted for his title, which includes a “spoiler.” Wikipedia calls a spoiler “A spoiler is a summary or description of a narrative (or part of a narrative) that relates plot elements not revealed early in the narrative itself.

In colloquial use, a spoiler is revealing something either as yet unrevealed or any major plot twist. Today is Saturday and people are complaining that the headline contains a spoiler, that Charlie died. Forget for a moment that anyone who has seen Lost in the last few months knew this moment was coming – my question is, “is this actually a spoiler?”

By strictist definition, Darth Vader being revealed as Luke’s father is a spoiler, despite its presence as a pop culture reference. By loosest definition, spoilers are revealed every day.

First off, the submitter on Digg was quoting an article on E Online, which, for the record, shared the same title. Secondly, well over 1,000 people dugg it up – do they not share any blame. And thirdly, is this even a spoiler? This information was in several online articles the day after the Wednesday finale.

The fact is, nearly every major news outlet “spoiled” American Idol within a day of the finale, but I didn’t hear people complaining about that. And although I’ve heard people say “Digg isn’t just for the US, and other places are broadcast behind you,” ABC does share the full length episodes on their website and… well… this is the INTERNET! It’s the age of instantaneous information.

So what is an acceptable amount of time to wait before something is no longer a spoiler? I believe spoilers are real time only for TV, and pretty close to it for movies. It would’ve been a spoiler on Wednesday day or before, but once the episode airs, it’s no longer a spoiler. And if you don’t want to know, stay off the internet, certainly sites that will features reviews of a show that is very popular.

Movies are close to real time; it’s bad class to give away the twist to a movie, but how long until people generally know the twist? Is “The Sixth Sense” still fooling anyone?

Spoilers are only spoilers until the general public gets access. Then, I’m afraid, it’s every man for himself. You are responsible for navigating yourself away from the data you’re trying to avoid, because the world doesn’t owe it to you to not discuss something popular because you didn’t get a chance to watch it.

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