WELL, THAT HAPPENED: Spoiling the Force

By on December 29, 2015

Preserving movie thrills in the information age means exercising serious restraint.

Rey, BB-8 and Finn escape from [spoilers] in order to [spoilers] and meet up with [spoilers].  (Photo: disney/Lucasfilms)

Rey, BB-8 and Finn escape from [spoilers] in order to [spoilers] and meet up with [spoilers]. (Photo: disney/Lucasfilms)

Jackson, WY – The first trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted Nov. 28 of last year and since then I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid spoilers about the movie. I limited myself to only watching or reading official promotional material and avoided anything having to do with the production, including not listening to behind-the-scenes rumors, hints, leaks and otherwise. And I’m not alone. Star Wars fans all around the world have been trying to avoid having the movie spoiled for them for months, eager to avoid any “Bruce Willis was dead the whole time!” mishaps.

Sadly, my home in Neskaupstaður, Iceland, is a four-hour drive from the closest movie theater, which means, no, I have not seen Star Wars yet, and I’m not entirely certain when I’ll have the chance to. Therefore, every step I take into the world of the Internet is a hesitant one. There’s no knowing what random Star Wars tidbit might be lingering somewhere on a web page.

The reviews, I’ve heard, have been incredibly positive, indicating that director J.J. Abrams has truly revamped the Star Wars saga for a new generation while staying true to the original trilogy that got everyone stoked in the first place.

So what’s the big deal? Why are so many people so terrified of spoilers?

Star Wars is famous for having one of the biggest twists in cinema history. When audiences saw “The Empire Strikes Back” in cinemas, it was a huge surprise when Darth Vader was revealed to be Luke Skywalker’s father. No one saw that bait and switch coming. However, nowadays it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know the infamous line, “No … I am your father,” because it’s been talked about for so long.

The information age we live in allows us to answer just about any question or mystery in the history of humanity with the tap of a few buttons. This technology, while useful in solving petty arguments about whether the quote is actually “Luke, I am your father,” or not (it’s not), completely takes away the beauty and wonder of discovery. Imagine if Christopher Columbus prepared his crew and his mind for their Atlantic journey, only to have some asshole show up at the last minute and tell them they wouldn’t actually arrive in India.

It’s a drastic comparison, but Star Wars is kind of a big deal for a lot of people, myself included, and not always in the obsessed, dressed-up nerd convention way that you might imagine. The experience of watching a film can be as important as the content of the film itself, especially when it’s so directly linked to one’s childhood.

For me, the Star Wars saga is about two boys who grow up thinking they’re worth less than nothing, only to learn that they will change the course of the galaxy forever. Anakin Skywalker, once a slave boy, grows up to become one of the most menacing villains in history, and his son, Luke Skywalker, a farmer, matures into the hero he never thought he would become. The films are classic tales told in extraordinary ways with beautiful scenery, memorable characters and epic space battles. And when you’re a little Austrian-American boy like me, there was something really special about growing up thinking that one day I, too, might be able to become a Jedi, not unlike a sailor’s young son might grow up thinking he could become an explorer like Christopher Columbus.

There’s been great unity on the Internet among fans and media organizations who have avoided posting spoilers on Facebook and other websites for at least a few weeks after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” began playing. I’m thankful to those people who recognize the joy of experiencing a film series they’ve grown up with and admired unspoiled; those who choose not to wreck it for others by plastering plot points all over their Facebook pages. And then there are those people who think it’s hilarious to ruin things for others.

As we enter the New Year with another Star Wars film (“Rogue One”) releasing next winter, hopefully we can be less dickish to each other. May the force be with us. PJH

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