Friday, September 30, 2005

Slate's Seth Stevenson: why he should keep his mouth shut

My favorite site for intelligent opinion and analysis is (which also co-produces pieces on NPR). Today they ran an article by Seth Stevenson titled "Joss Whedon: why he should stick to television".

Now anyone who knows me will recognize that this statement is tantamount to heresy (especially in light of today's box office debut of "Serenity", Joss' resurrection of his cancelled "Firefly" TV show).

However anyone who knows me should also realize that I'm good at keeping an open mind.

So I clicked on the article, fearing that Stevenson would be right, that he would lay out a damning analysis of Whedon's inherently television-based approach to storytelling that just doesn't work on the big screen. I expected the observation that nine main characters works great for TV, but cannot work successfully in a two-hour movie. I expected a discussion about how "Serenity"'s impossibly small buget ($40 million) forced the movie to look like a modestly glitzed-up episode of a modest budget TV show.

Instead, within the first two paragraphs, I got a huge spoiler. Not only is it a huge spoiler, it's one that occurs "toward the end of the film".

It's my fault for reading the article before seeing the movie right? I mean I was just asking for it, yes?


Read a review by Roger Ebert. See how he avoids spoilers while still discussing whatever he feels is worth discussing. Read a review by any reasonably professional writer and you'll see how they avoid spoilers. And if spoilers do appear, they are always preceded by the warning "spoilers ahead". It's common courtesy to those who may not want major surprises spoiled (thus the basis for the word "spoiler").

I'm the kind of guy that doesn't watch the trailer for movies he's looking forward to seeing (yes, I can look forward to seeing a movie without ever seeing the trailer. I'm special that way). I loathe the silly fansites that seek to unearth every possible spoiler and rumor they can find.

So my only mistake was in trusting Slate.

I assumed that all of their writers adhered to the highly professional, extremely intelligent standards that the vast majority of their articles convey. I thought: moreso than any other site, I can trust Slate's content to be wisely considered - and considerate.

I did email Stevenson and asked him to add the spoiler warning. And I didn't even cuss him out.

But man am I pissed.

Stevenson may still be right in his assertion about Joss. But I can't risk reading any more of his article until I see the movie tonight.

Bloody hell. I've been looking forward to this movie for two years and have carefully avoided all spoilers and now - on opening night!! - a huge, never-would-have-suspected-it surprise is spoiled. ARRGGGGHHH!!


Blogger Mike said...

I am SO with you on trailers. My spouse, on the other hand, LIVES for the previews at the end of every television episode, which can cause problems when I flip the channel at the end of a show without thinking. (I'd rather arrive EARLY for the next show I want to watch; she wants to see clips of something she's ALREADY going to watch ANYWAY.)

It drove me nuts when I worked at one of the comic book companies and I had to deal with all the fans who wanted to know what was going to happen in SOME FANTASTIC COMIC #247. I wanted to scream at them that they should just buy the book and read it, but that did seem a bit mercenary.

Fri Sep 30, 05:34:00 PM CDT  

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