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Spoiling a spoiler manifesto

Spoiling a spoiler manifesto (photo)

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I’m in a weird position here. I’m publicly on record as someone who doesn’t mind spoilers. And generally, I really don’t. I have no problem with someone telling me the end of a movie I’m not planning on seeing (“No, please! Don’t spoil the end of “Hide and Seek!” I might casually flip past it on basic cable someday!”). To me, twelve years is enough time to talk freely about the major twist in the film whose image appears above (“He sees dead people. He sees dead people.”). And I believe strongly that writers should be able to write seriously and thoroughly about films and television shows; if that means they have to write about important elements of the plot, then so be it. If you are sensitive to these matters, then avoid articles by and conversations with people who are not.

And yet! An article I read yesterday infuriated me by revealing a spoiler of a show I’m currently watching. Either I’m a hypocrite (possible) or the writer of this piece crossed a line (also possible). Maybe it’s both. I’ll let you decide.

The article is entitled “Spoiler Alerts: A Manifesto” by Gawker‘s Brian Moylan. As someone with a fairly strong point of view on the subject of spoilers, I was curious when I saw the link pass through my Twitter feed. Here is how the piece begins:

“America loves having its movies and television shows recapped, reviewed, and regurgitated back to them, but the one thing that it hates more and more is having the events of those things spoiled by reviewers. It’s time for a guide on what constitutes a spoiler and what does not.”

I agree completely with that premise, and I’m fully on board with a manifesto. I love manifestos. They’re intense, hyperbolic, and full of utterly pointless outrage (kind of like the article you’re reading right now). So I continued, until I was slapped in the face by this whopper:

“The final straw for me was reading this review of the second season of [[SHOW REDACTED]] by Emily Nussbaum. She gives a spoiler alert to the [[SPOILER REDACTED]] at the end of season one. Yes, she spoiler-alerted something that happened more than a year ago, in a piece about the show’s almost-finished second season.”

Again, I agree with Moylan’s fundamental point: it’s sort of ridiculous that the author of a piece about the second season of a television show should have to go through the trouble to warn readers that they’re going to discuss plot details from that television show’s first season. To me, talking about something that happens at the end of season one of a TV show in an article about season four of that same TV show is not a spoiler.

But here’s the problem: Moylan himself wasn’t writing a piece about season four of a TV show, he was writing a general blog post about the concept of spoilers. In the process, he brazenly and intentionally ruined a major chunk of a series — that I have helpfully and rather exaggeratedly redacted — that I and others, I imagine, are currently catching up with on DVD.

He didn’t unleash this spoiler to further a complex argument about a work of art, either. He did it for shock value and to reinforce his larger point that there should be a statute of limitations on TV spoilers. According to him “Just like the TV networks get credit for everyone who watches a show on DVR a week after its initial airing, that is how long you should keep the details of a scripted television show a secret. One week.” Movies, he thinks, deserve longer and larger cones of silence. “Other than basic outlines of what happens in [a] movie,” Moylan says, “details of the ending shouldn’t be openly discussed until the movie is out on DVD.”

Here’s where we really disagree. And here’s why. Television shows are a much bigger time commitment than any one movie. A movie is ninety minutes. If you really think you’ve had a movie spoiled, just don’t watch it. Unless someone leans over to you twenty minutes into “The Usual Suspects” and tells you who Keyser Soze is, there’s no way to spoil “The Usual Suspects” once you’ve committed the time to watching it.

A television show, on the other hand, can be spoiled in the middle of a season. You can decide to watch something, invest hours upon hours of your life in it, and then have the very end of the experience ruined by, say, a dude suddenly and without warning telling you what’s coming three episodes down the road. Moylan says that “reviews of [a] movie should also avoid mentioning that there’s a surprise ending because knowing a shock is coming is like going up the hill on a roller coaster: You may not know how steep the hill is, but you’re waiting for it the whole time.” Exactly right, but it’s so much worse for television shows, where you can wait for that hill for six or eight or twelve hours. If you’ve put that much time into something, you deserve the full experience.

If I’d been stupid enough to click on an episode or season recap, that would be my own damn fault. But I didn’t. And for my curiosity, I learned a valuable lesson, though perhaps not the one I was supposed to learn. In the process of trying to prove why spoiler warnings are pointless and stupid, Moylan has reinforced the very reason why they can be important.

Do you care about spoilers? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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