In praise of … spoilers

Avengers: Infinity War has now been released in the US. Its release date in China is not for another couple of weeks, but it means I can, at least, find out what happens in it, before it opens here. Indeed, The Guardian today has a special spoiler column on the film, where fans (who have seen it) can add their thoughts. The synopsis on Wikipedia has also been updated.

Many people do not like spoilers; they feel knowing what will happen will ruin the experience for them. Perhaps they are right. However, I like spoilers, because I can get excited about them (and I’m not hugely keen on surprises). If I know an actor is returning to a series which they used to be in, but left, for example, I will start thinking about how they will return, how will they interact with other characters, whether a specific piece of music be played, and so on. In other words, it enhances the enjoyment for me. I don’t read them for every film I watch. I saw Annihilation recently and didn’t know anything about that. And often I’ll watch a horror film without knowing much about what will happen. But for a big film like Avengers, for me, it’s sort of required reading. When Batman vs. Superman, was released, for instance, I was really eager to find out how they came together in the end, after having been antagonists to each other earlier in the film. And a spoiler only provides so much. It allows you to get a sense of a scene, and what will happen – to prepare – yet it’s only when you watch it that you know can understand the different camera angles or how someone says something. The emotion is still there, knowing what will happen does not take that away. If anything, it enhances it.

One former colleague, at RDFZ, was a big Shakespeare fan. Now, I’m not, but I’d sit opposite her occasionally in the school canteen and I’d be polite, ask her how her Shakespeare elective was going. She’d say it was going well, and she’d tell me which play they were studying. Most of the plays I’m not familiar with the story, so I’d ask her what happens in them. As she didn’t approve of spoilers, she’d say I would just have to read the play myself. Knowing I was not likely to do that, I’d often just say okay, and then take out my phone, load up Wikipedia and read the plot summary.

But equally, I don’t read reviews that often either. I know what I like and will go and watch it regardless of whether a review is good or not. I like horror films but many get poor reviews; they are still good and (sometimes) still scary. Conversely, some horror films with good reviews I didn’t think were as good as have sometimes been described (The Babadook being on such film. Much of the film is very good, but I felt it was a very slow build up to the actual horror).

Of the worst films I’ve watched, one was Exorcist II: The Heretic, which is sometimes described as one of the worst films ever. The other, which is often described as the opposite, is Vertigo. I saw this a few years ago, and I found it a little … not boring exactly, but not as good as everyone seems to think it is (in my opinion). These are just my opinions; I know there are many Vertigo fans out there, and maybe if I saw it again I would think better of it.

Students here tend to be quite ‘tech savvy’. They all have mobile phones, which isn’t surprising, but also many are excellent on computers and have the latest tech or gadgets. In class today, the students were doing some performances; short scenes about various situations. And they often used their phones as sound effects. It amazes me how far they go just make their scene extra special. For instance, one group’s scene was about being stuck in a lift and so they played a noise on their phone that was like the emergency bell in a lift. I don’t know where they found it from. Another group did a scene involving dentists, and again, they found the sound of a dentist’s drill and played that on their phone. This all adds to the excitement for the students, but it is interesting to hear and see how far they go with these sorts of things, in class. When we did advertisements, a week or two ago, I gave each group a picture of a product and they had to come up with an advert for it. One group made the product itself, out of paper. They seem to enjoy this sort of thing, and as I was discussing with a colleague, it gets them up speaking English and interacting with their fellow classmates.

Some students are better at this sort of thing than others, which is why their oral exam last semester involved the option of them making a video, but not compulsory. Nevertheless, those that did made ones which were a lot better than anything I could ever achieve (though I’m not very practical).

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