Spoilers, Endings and Criticism

I’m always keen to read an argument against spoiler alerts; in Wired, Jason Kehe makes the point that avoiding spoilers prevents us from talking about whether art is successful because we can’t talk about endings. “[G]ood criticism should not cater to our childish fears of spoiled pleasures, with disclaimers and warnings and other acts of silly self-debasement. It should honestly evaluate a work of art in its entirety, and you can’t do that without talking about what happens. Besides, it’s not even clear that spoilers really do ruin one’s experience of art.” Preventing spoilers is at bottom a marketing tactic, and has been since the end credits of Witness for the Prosecution (1957) asked the audience not to reveal its plot twist. That was, and is, to get more bums in seats. Marketing is the enemy of good criticism.