It’s just good manners…
If you have a blog that reviews or even just discusses current media, you have probably had to pay attention to spoilers. More specifically, how to write a complete article while avoiding any and all spoilers.
One thing I have noticed about anime blogs in particular is that a lot of us do episode reviews and it is really difficult to say much about a specific episode without well… talking about the episode. And in general, those big reveals and twists are often the most fun to talk about and what everyone wants to know more about.
So how do we navigate giving enough information to the readers about a certain anime, or discussing shows with big twists without spoiling them for others? Do we have any responsibility to avoid spoilers in the first place? And whatever is a spoiler anyway?
There’s gonna be spoilers for Dearth Note and the Case Files of Jeweller Richard (maybe). Weird, I know!
As usual, I don’t have any authority on the subject. These are just general guidelines that I sort of came up with by myself and for myself. I have to say, I’m always a bit weary about people who read episode reviews without having seen the episode and are surprised when something is revealed. Nevertheless, Crow does constantly remind me to put disclaimers at the beginning of our joint posts. Still, for anyone wanting to categorically avoid any and all spoilers about a specific show, I would recommend avoiding episode reviews of those shows, as a rule of thumb.
It gets a bit greyer with series reviews. Although people will often read reviews of shows they have seen (I do so regularly) it is still very common to read reviews in order to see if you want to watch something. So when I write those, I will try to do so for an audience that hasn’t seen the series and avoid details that are better discovered in the moment.
But then, what if I’m discussing what makes a great villain character, can I mention Light? I mean Death Note makes his heel turn pretty obvious and pretty quick right from the start but when I read the manga for the first time I had no idea what I was in for and that first twist was still one of the best. How power corrupted a “good” boy so quickly and completely, yet so logically. It was a powerful sequence and it really hit me as I was watching him fall deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. It might not have had that same impact if I had known it was coming from the start and had always considered the character that way.
So you see what I mean. Putting Light Yagami on a list of best villains or best fallen heroes or whatever would be a spoiler. Mentioning anything that happens in Madaoka past the second episode would also probably be a spoiler. I’m currently watching Penguindrum and I don’t think it’s possible to discuss that series without copious spoilers, heck the title itself might be one…
But how do we fix this then? Not talk about anime? Mention shows in only the vaguest terms and avoid any specific character or plot details. That sounds pretty boring. Well maybe it’s not but I definitely don’t have the skill to make an interesting anime post under those circumstances. I also want to read about what people think of Light as a villain.
I actually got way too wrapped up in my random example and now half my mind is preoccupied by that. I’ve never seen the Death Note anime but it sure was a fantastic manga! Sorry, let’s get back to it.
So this is what I’ve come up with for myself. 1) What is a spoiler. A spoiler is any piece of information that could reasonable affect a viewers appreciation of the show or movie. That’s still a pretty broad definition but ultimately, if there’s a mild plot point that is surprising but really doesn’t change anything in the grand scheme of things, then revealing it is robbing the audience of the surprise which isn’t great but I don’t think it counts as a full on spoiler. For instance if I told you that Richard (as in Jeweller Richard) was really close to his governess as a child because his mother was in fact never there. It does inform some of the later events in the show but I don’t think it has much impact on how people enjoyed the series. Mostly because no one watched it…
2) Episode reviews will have episode spoilers. I try to make that clear when I remember but I think there’s really no way around that unless you go for, OMG wait till you guys see that thing that happened, to that guy. And that’s just as spoilery in my opinion and maybe a bit more annoying(?) So whether I’m writing or reading them, I sort of accept that it’s a wild wild west of spoilers. Anything goes! Still I try not to be too much of a jerk about it. I once accidentally chose a post title that could be considered a spoiler and I feel bad to this day.
3) When writing full series reviews I try to avoid any big spoilers and if I absolutely want to discuss one because I have just so much to say about it, I warn people super obviously about it, with bold capital letters and all, before the spoiler containing paragraph starts, and tell them when it’s over.
4) My biggest issue remains with essay posts that are discussing whatever happens to be on my mind that day. I often use shows as examples of points I’m trying to make or delve into some specific tropes and plot points that fit into a greater topic but I don’t always realize that I might be spoiling something. When I do, I try to put a disclaimer at the beginning of the post, like I did today and I’ll occasionally make a difference between “minor” and “major” spoilers.
I’ve been playing with the idea of putting spoiler text in white. You know like they do on certain sites, where you have to highlight the text to see it. The problem is that I think the reader app puts all text in black no matter what so it wouldn’t work for those that aren’t reading my posts on my site. (This is an aside but I put a lot of time in my layout so if you have only seen my posts in reader, I would really appreciate it if you could give the site a look. Design feedback is appreciated). I’m sorry this was much less exciting than an actual spoiler. Highlight text to read…
It would be great if wordpress came out with something that would allow us to hide text in our posts to avoid spoilers. I would abuse that badly!
What are your views on spoilers? Avoid them at all costs? Heh, it’s no big deal? Do you have any cool tricks to hide spoilers in your posts?