Writing, life, politics

Enough With The Spoilers!

How many of you guys reading this remember the now infamous cover of Starlog #35 (right) in which, just ahead of the UK release of The Empire Strikes Back, they totally blew the main revelation of the story (that Vader was Luke’s father), thus totally ruining the film for anyone unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of the magazine’s cover?

No? No-one? Not one of you? Thought so. And do you know why I knew that?

Because it never happened, of course. An SF magazine would never, ever print spoilers for a not yet released or transmitted TV programme or film; if they did, an army of enraged geeks would burn down their headquarters, pausing first only to grab the editorial and writing staff so they could be hung from lamp-posts until they were deader than William Shatner’s wig.

So why does this simple principle, “I haven’t fucking seen it yet so I don’t want you to tell me what happens!”, not apply to the realm of soap operas?

Full Disclosure: I watch Coronation Street. I’m not ashamed. I think it consistently shows a mix of pretty good acting combined with classic British screenwriting, and is an entertaining story of ordinary British men and women struggling to survive life in a crime-ridden, hellhole community with a murder rate some ten times that of Soweto.

Anyhow, the problem with watching Corrie is that any suspense you might have had is totally removed by the avalanche of spoilers contained in every TV listings magazine. It’s not enough to avoid reading the magazines; the spoilers are on the covers in text so big and bright you’d need to have your eyes surgically removed every time you went into a WH Smiths in order to maintain any sort of ignorance about what’s about to happen.

A relative of mine reads all these magazines and happily regurgitates her knowledge if you make the mistake of watching Corrie with her.

“He’s going to die. She gets pregnant but then loses the baby. He goes to prison. She has an affair with her new boss.”

But it makes no difference in the end. You’d have to be blind to manage to watch an episode that contains a major plot point without finding out about it in advance. It really pisses me off. I know the TV companies give out this information to attract viewers to storylines, but it’s crap that they degrade their own product just to marginally inflate their viewing figures. (And I think in the long term, they might find that people stop watching).

People often talk about what laws they would pass if they were Prime Minister for a day. I’m thinking I know what I would pick. Or maybe I need to start emailing any MPs who come high in the ballot for the next round of Private Members bills?

“2010 Plot Secrecy Preservation (Soap Operas) Bill” anyone?


  1. James Wallis

    Some consumers of media want to know the ending before it happens. They don’t like being taken by surprise, particularly by unhappy endings. If you ever see a movie trailer for (say) a courtroom drama, and it includes a shot of the protagonist celebrating on the courthouse steps, then it is not for you, it is 60-year-olds who want to know that the movie has a nice ending that will make them feel all warm inside, and that nice man who played James Bond in it.

    Different strokes for different folks.

  2. G

    I used to read critical miss.
    I used to respect you man.
    You watch soap operas…?
    What happened?
    You were kidnapped by aliens weren’t you…that’s it!! This has to stop…it’s about time we turned tables on them and kidnapped a few aliens ourselves and implanted THEM with cheap taiwanese radios.
    Just cut the implant out man…you need to be free of soap operas….they are EVIL!

    • Jonny Nexus

      Well I would start by saying “I’m not ashamed” but it’s a truth universally acknowledged that anyone who starts a defence with that is actually ashamed. 🙂

      But I wonder, are you from the states? If so, then British soap operas are a bit different from American ones, much grittier. (Although watching them is still pretty shameful). But the difference between British soaps like Coronation Street or Eastenders and American soaps like Dallas or Dynasty (only ones we’ve ever watched) is like the difference between Hill Street Blues and LA Law, or Eddie Murphy’s character in Trading Places and Dan Ackroyd’s.

      And no, I don’t know why I can’t think of any examples less than twenty years old.

      But hey, look, it’s not like I really watch them. 🙂

      • G

        Firstly, You didn’t hit reply which I assume was intentional. hoping i would not come back here so the other 2.2 readers and 3 spambots would assume this last comment of yours closed the conversation off amiably. And socially acceptably. Not so sir. Not so.
        Secondly I am Italian, grew up in Africa and now live in London (and teach martial arts in Brighton on Thursday mornings, so I stalk closer to you than you know…) and for all that I would say British soap operas are worse. They are the 17th lower circle of hell as opposed to the American ones which can only get to about the 7th lower circle, primarily because they are so fake and over the top that only the mentally infirm (or Americans, though that’s sort of redundant to spell out) can confuse them with any kind of reality.
        Thirdly. You should not just be ashamed. I think you should actually go for an exorcism. Confession and bathing in holy water at least.
        Also, years of therapy may help reduce the Chthulian damage obviously already caused to your limbic brain and cerebellum.
        Lastly, I now am self-employed so have almost some time on my hands and if you’re ever free on a Thursday let me know and it might be nice to say hello. I have enjoyed your writings on critical miss and there are not many 40 year olds I can discuss things like Original D&D and why it rocks compared to all the new-fangled crap no one actually plays because it has too many damn sub, sub, sub-rules…

        • Jonny Nexus

          No, the forgetting to hit reply was an oversight. When writing a confession about watching Coronation Street, rest assured that I would at least attempt to keep some self-respect by making it look like I know how to operate the comment functionality of my own blog.

          But I apparently can’t. Because I didn’t.

          Meeting up would be cool. Perhaps you can drop me a line on jonny at jonny nexus dot com.

          • Jonny Nexus

            I did hit reply on that one, I did I did I did… but it looks like I didn’t. Hmmm…

            Perhaps my blog is possessed. 🙂

          • Jonny Nexus

            Mind you, it might be a long time before I’m free on a Thursday. I’m guessing you won’t be around by the evening? (I’m in London during the day).

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