As an aspiring industry professional, chances are good you are also a television and/or film aficionado. And, like being attracted to like, chances are good that your friends are too. But when you’re talking about the latest cool thing you’ve seen, there’s little that can halt the conversation faster or in a more annoying fashion than when your friends suddenly put their fingers in their ears are start screaming “LALALALALA SPOILERS LALALALALA” as loud as they can. Unfortunately, some of these friends may not believe that there’s such a thing as expiration dates on spoilers. They don’t want you to tell them the end of The Great Escape, even though it came out when your parents were children and it figures heavily into a plot you’re working on and they’re supposed to be helping you to write it. So, herewith, I propose some expiration dates for spoilers:
TV Shows: The week after airing. If this is a show you actually care about but it’s been sitting on your DVR for a week and you can’t have bothered to watch it yet, you don’t get to declare yourself a spoiler-free zone. Either watch the show or get spoiled and deal with it. This is especially true of shows that are already on DVD. Just because you never watched Lost when it was on TV doesn’t mean that’s everyone else’s problem.
Movies: When the DVD comes out. If you didn’t watch it in theaters, you don’t care that much.
Books: When the sequel is published or when the movie version comes out, whichever comes first. I went to high school with kids who complained when I spoiled the end of Hamlet for them senior year by telling them it was a tragedy. I’m still rolling my eyes at them.
Jokes: When you know, for a fact, that every single person in the room has heard this joke before and the teller is the same person. In that case, the new joke is the same person has forgotten and is telling it again, and it’s okay to say so. (Note: not applicable in cases of small children or elderly or disabled adults.)
Of course, all this said, I’m assuming a level of respect for all participants in the conversation. Someone who spends their life looking for people who haven’t seen The Crying Game specifically to tell them the secret is an ass. If it comes up in conversation and you mention that you figured out the secret in the beginning because you saw the Stargate movie first and someone looks at you with narrowed eyes and says, “I was saving that movie for a special occasion,” then that person is an ass. So please, just don’t be an ass.