Ars Legendi: An election spoiled

Alan Duff

Spoilers suck. Right after the midnight release of “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince,” there was a restaurant along I-35 in Texas which replaced its sign’s standard lettering with the words — warning, spoilers ahead — “Snape Kills Dumbledore” for the whole Potter-reading world to see.

I would have been really mad if I had come across the sign on my way back from my Barnes & Noble, but I still would have read the book. That particular scene in the book had already been spoiled for me the previous evening, courtesy of the Internet.

I do not think it is okay to have stories spoiled; however, I also do not think that if a story has a plot point spoiled, it is completely ruined. If you planned on being entertained by a story, don’t let a few spoilers dissuade you. I’ve seen that kind of reasoning too many times: Someone has a plot point spoiled, so they stop caring and decide it was the end of a story, not the journey, that assigned value.

But that simply isn’t true. Spoilers have an impact on us because as readers, television series fans and moviegoers, we are invested in the outcome of the story. It’s upsetting to have any story you’ve put time and interest in spoiled. The opposite is true as well: When you learn a spoiler about some book about which you do care it doesn’t even register.

Furthermore, spoilers can’t really ruin the end of well-written stories. Does knowing the end of a movie stop us from re-watching movies from time to time? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories can be read again and again for enjoyment after knowing their spoiler-centric, Whodunit endings.

The same is true for action movies. Their endings are mostly predictable; we assume the hero will triumph and the bad guy will be foiled in some clever way. It isn’t a terrible assumption to make. But I still watch them, knowing full well that they have a certain ending because there is a chance I’ll be surprised. Or maybe I just really love action movies and am lying to myself. Look at romance movies if you want another example.

So please, don’t use spoilers as an excuse to abstain from reading a good story or watching a good television series. Especially if you think you know the ending. That never works out.

A word of caution: This idea of expectations should never be applied to real life. They work against us. You shouldn’t assume just because you know the end of a story that you shouldn’t read it at all and that applies to the here and now perfectly. Even if you think one candidate will win in the election, you should still vote. Plot twist!

So maybe this was just one really long, convoluted way of me trying to say that everyone should vote for whichever candidate they want and not let any spoiler-ish beliefs or ideas dissuade one from voting. Elections aren’t books that you can flip to the final page or movies whose endings to which you can skip. So go out there and vote, don’t assume your candidate will win.