Every so often, I find myself saying, “Spoilers!” in the reproving but slightly playful tones of River Song. Like the Doctor Who character, I have instigated a ‘no spoilers’ rule in the family. It started when the news began to come out about Star Wars Episode VII, when I realised that being married to the co-owner of Jedi News would inevitably mean that information about the film would trickle into Semi-Detatched Suburbia from myriad sources (you can read my own blog here).
When Mr Burns has his regular meetings and conversations with toy companies, executives, people in charge of fan relations, he is told all sorts of things that he cannot immediately disclose, information that he stores away for future publication on his website, in the Official Star Wars Insider magazine or for StarWars.com. He sees the toys which are coming out next year, he hears confirmation of as-yet unsubstantiated rumours; he is a keeper of secrets, which, for the most part, I like to remain a secret.
So why my objection? Read on to find out…
Why was I not excited when he was offered a dodgy Episode VII script or photographs from the set on the sly (which, for the record, he turned down)? Well, the clue is in the word. Spoilers. A way to spoil your enjoyment of the finished product, a way to satisfy your craving for instant gratification, but which will, in the end, leech some of your delight when you see the completed film for the first time.
Because Star Wars is such a cultural phenomenon, today’s children will never know that amazing feeling when they watch Star Wars Episode V and hear the words, “I am your father” for the very first time. The “I am your father” meme has been used again and again since Empire came out, cropping up in one of the Austin Powers films, Toy Story 2, even a Banksy print. For new viewers, the big reveal has been diluted, there will not be the sharp intake of breath followed by the thoughts spinning madly in their heads as they think back to all the knew of the characters and try to make sense of this amazing twist.
When the new films come out, I want the children to see them with fresh eyes, unhampered by preconceptions, by snippets of information which they shouldn’t yet know, by reviews written by people with their own agenda. I want them to watch it and think, “WOW”. (Note to the film makers: this “WOW” should be a positive “WOW”, not a negative, “Wow, they’ve included another really annoying Jar Jar Binks-like character”).
Mr Burns, obviously, will see the film through vastly different eyes, through the lens of facts and statistics that the rest of us won’t know. I feel slightly sorry for him actually, but that is the trade-off he has made, that is his choice, not mine.
And to get back to Doctor Who, when the Series 8 scripts were leaked recently, I avoided those too.