Screw you, Spoilers! The 100’s Shawna Benson on Dodging Bullets

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You know what sucks? Spoilers! In the ever-growing digital age it’s hard to get away from them. They’re on your phone, they’re on your computer, they’re even blurted out by co-workers in the cubicle next to you.

So What’s a Spoiler?

Shawna Benson, staff writer on the CW’s post-apocalyptic series The 100 says that “a spoiler is an information leak about a story in any medium that appears before the large mass of humanity is able to actually read or watch said media.”

For example, last season on The 100 the (extremely passionate) fandom went ballistic after a clip featuring an unexpected lip lock between Clarke [Eliza Taylor] and Lexa [Alycia Debnam-Carey] was “leaked,” but according to an article E! Online ran back in February, executive producer Jason Rothenberg set the record straight saying that he didn’t think the promotion was accidental. He added that “controversy is good” and that the most important thing to remember is that just because fans knew the kiss was coming didn’t mean we knew the full story behind it.

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Are Promos Spoilers?

For me, promos are a lot like clickbait headlines: you get into the story thinking you’re going to read about one thing and when all the information is presented to you—it’s really a whole other story. The same can be applied to previews: characters X and Y might be kissing in the 20-second TV spot, but when the whole episode unfolds the audience finds out it was all a dream, or done under extenuating circumstances (MTV’s Faking It is a big culprit of the dream sequence switcheroo).

Bottom line, if something is in a promo, chances are the writers, or marketing department WANT you to see that steamy kiss, or that the character was left for dead and bleeding profusely. It’s a tactic to draw you in—and boy does it work.

Impatient Fans: The Struggle Is Real

Waiting for my favorite dystopian series to return to The CW (2016 by the way) has been utterly excruciating; In lieu of Sky People and Grounders I’ve been hooked on an Australian drama called Wentworth. This show is a reimagining of the 1979 series Prisoner, and let me tell you, it will make you its bitch! But since it airs in Australia long before it has a chance to hit Netflix in the U.S., I’m plagued with dodging pivotal plot points from Aussie fans. This is prime spoiler territory and I am a recent victim. There I was sitting innocently on my bed trolling the internet, catching up on a day’s worth of “news” when – BAM! – fans from Oz posted revealing GIFs on Tumblr and Twitter about the brand spanking new episodes. The sensation of feeling robbed instantaneously washed over me. They must have heard my screams all the way to Sydney.

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Spoiler Etiquette

So when is it socially acceptable to spill the beans on that hot new episode of your favorite show or that great thriller read? That’s tricky, especially where Twitter is concerned. There are so many factors: different time zones, episodes that have been illegally obtained before public consumption, advance reader copies and so much more.

“Conventional wisdom is that there is a period of time during which any casual conversation you might have about that story that could be considered a spoiler to someone else—if mentioned any time after that particular media is released to all,” Benson says. “How long this time might be has been up for debate. Is it 24 hours? 48? A week?”

How to Avoid These Pesky Things

Now that we know what spoilers are and hopefully how to spot them, how do we get rid of them? And what can we do about Twitter, which Benson, a seasoned Twitter veteran, defines as a place “where spoilers run unchecked in their natural habitat.”

Twitter, that popular (and public forum) is your prime connection to fellow fans, dishing on what you dig, what you don’t dig, embracing and debating. Benson says “that [connection] becomes difficult when there is a particularly juicy story tidbit you want to discuss publicly but know that the statute of limitations on discussing spoilers, which varies from person to person, could cause some blowback.”

She adds in that case, it’s your duty as a fan to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from unsolicited nuggets of information (aka spoilers).

She gave some helpful tips to minimize the harm:

  • Don’t expect people to stop talking about new books, TV shows, or movies.
  • Social media cleanses don’t usually work—so instead use a filter to weed out the unwanted chatter.
  • Lists, lists, and more lists. Put those chatty Cathy’s that you know live-tweet the crap out of your faves in a list, then mute them until you get a chance to watch/read said media.

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How do Writers Feel about Spoilers?

Fans aren’t the only ones who hate spoilers. Benson says writers hate them, too.

“It is frustrating as a writer to see something you worked hard to conceal revealed to all before they actually get to experience the story for themselves. Sadly, the days of true secrets in our storytelling seem to be gone. As a result, we must all acknowledge that spoilers will never go away so long as there are people who want to know the information and want to talk about it,” she says.

But she’s not giving up. “We will soldier on, armed in the fight against them!”

The series, which is based on Kass Morgan’s book series of the same name, returns midseason in 2016. In the mean, time be sure to catch up on Season 1 and 2 on Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes, as well as pick up copies of its bookish counterparts.

Recommended reading:

I’d be a fool not to recommend The 100 book series by Kass Morgan, which includes The 100Day 21, and Homecoming. The novels are guaranteed to give you an exhilarating look in to a not too distant dystopian future after a nuclear war ended civilization as we know it 97 years ago. These books have got it all: isolation, exploration and a seemingly new land.

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