Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers? After a certain amount of time, is it okay to openly discuss endings of popular tv shows, books, movies? Am I allowed to announce "Bruce Willis was dead the whole time?" (If you don't know what that refers to, I won't say, since it would obviously spoil it. Whatever it is.)
I'm thinking right now about Harry Potter. I decided to reread the 7th book (okay, relisten, actually) for my class next semester. We could pick any HP book, and the Deathly Hallows is the only one I've only read once. I knew how it ended, knew who died and who lived, so I wasn't in for any surprises. The surprise ended up being just how emotional I got about a book I've read before. I was listening while grocery shopping on Friday and Dobby died just as I got to the dairy aisle. There I was, tossing Yoplait into my cart, with tears dripping down my face. I tried to be surreptitious about it, holding back the full-on sobs and dabbing at my eyes and nose, trying to prevent the mascara streaks that are a dead giveaway of public crying. I'm evaluating the price of pork chops while Harry is digging Dobby's grave with his own hands - it was all I could do not to just head to the checkout. What's the point of living, if Dobby's dead? But no, Harry was tougher than that and I could be, too. I did throw in a bag of Donettes, to ease the pain a little.
My first instinct when I got home was to share my pain, or at least, the spectacle I made of myself. I mean, who cries in the grocery store? That's funny, right? (Actually, this wouldn't be my first grocery store crying incident - I also cried in Wal-Mart while waiting for an anti-nausea prescription to be filled. Ah, pregnancy. Please let me do THAT again.) So I tried to phrase the scene for Facebook:
Emily Mudgett Simmons broke down in the dairy aisle today, listening to Harry Potter. Not Dobby! Take me instead!
And then I realized that I couldn't post that without a spoiler alert, which would, of course, ruin the flow and pacing of my carefully crafted status. Then I thought, wait a second - who hasn't read the final Harry Potter book that actually intends to do so? The only people that haven't read it either a) aren't readers, b) don't care for fantasy/YA books in general, or c) are one of those people that are avoiding reading HP because the books are "too popular" or have "too much hype." I suppose there are people who were too young to have read this book when it came out three years ago, but I'm not friends with many nine-year-olds on Facebook. Or people that have only recently moved here from another country and are learning English by reading great literature - those would be the only people for whom I'd feel bad about ruining the ending. The people in a) and b) won't care if it's ruined. And I almost WANT to ruin for the people in group c) because I take it personally when someone refuses to read one of my favorite books for what I consider to be a not very good reason. (I don't know why this is, why HP turns me into a raving, judgmental lunatic.) In the end, though, I am so conditioned against spoilers that I couldn't do it. I had to let that status go.
So what do you think is the statute of limitations on spoilers? Is it too soon to talk about Harry Potter? And does anyone else cry in the grocery store?