Devil is in the Details

We asked for this world, and now we must pay the price for our arrogance. We never knew how things could turn out, but claimed we deserved to learn everything. We clicked on stories that revealed secret characters, shared the latest leaked photos and clung to any rumor encountered. The Internet became a black market, where information was the top currency and we would rub in friend’s faces that we knew more than they did. Sites took notice. Like any shrewd business person, they provided the customer exactly what they wanted.

Unfortunately, no one stopped to think of the repercussions. You can ostensibly put together the plot of any blockbuster, AAA release by viewing released footage, interviews and behind-the-scene diaries. Bootleg photos and rumors from an uncle who works at Nintendo are no longer required. This information is provided freely, with no stop appearing in the future. These creators have invited us to peek behind the curtain. And we did. Now, the illusion and mystery of the great and powerful Oz is gone,replaced by only a frail old man. What’s seen cannot be unseen.

Even if you reached the point where you want to close Pandora’s Box, like I have, there is no escape. While preparing for the NerdEXP: Cinecast, my colleague screamed out in disgust. One of the top headlines read Star Wars Spoiler: Is [Redacted] [Redacted]?

Is it cruel of me to dangle a spoiler in front of you, perhaps; but at least the choice of whether you want to reveal the information is your fate. We weren’t afforded that luxury. I never did click through to read the entire article, so the click bait headline ended up failing in its job and only succeeded in earning my ire (and being the catalyst for this post). Did you click on the Star Wars spoiler? Are you glad you did, or a little disappointed that you know a potential plot point 9 months before J.J. Abrams intended?

Spoilers are avoidable. A great author wrote a piece on how sites can take precautions for such situations. But they haven’t listened yet, because clicks still occur and ad revenue drives the business model.

Recently, Robert Downey Jr. revealed an Iron Man poster for Avengers: Age of Ultron and told fans to stay tuned for an exciting announcement in 8 days (countdown lands on March 05). This story picked up traction across numerous sites and generated buzz, speculation articles and attention. It wasn’t news. We have reached a point where the announcement of incoming teases for a beloved franchise is cause for celebration and discussion. Even the poster release, which once quietly occurred at midnight as the last showing played, is now another weapon in the PR arsenal. The discourse about products has shifted to one-upping each other with the latest information.

The conversations I enjoy most regarding entertainment are when people debate their favorites, the merits of a divisive entry or excellent releases in the medium. These are becoming obsolete, in favor of quick digestible preview facts that would be more home on Twitter. Jared Leto receiving a haircut to play the Joker isn’t interesting to anyone. It’s not even interesting to Jared Leto.  But it is a story that millions read about…including me apparently (I just read the headline). This creates traction because of what this step symbolizes. It’s the promise that The Suicide Squad is closer to release that excites people and causes them to read the post in hopes for more information. Read the post, click the link and scan over an ad.

I don’t blame sites for providing this service. We asked for it and they delivered, with much gusto. I blame us. Our traffic pattern screams that we’d rather read about the nebulous future and speculate then discuss the great library of properties we already enjoyed and can access. Each piece of information released is like another puzzle piece as we use to put together the picture of what will be. Instead of waiting for the masterpiece to reveal itself, we piecemeal and hypothesis what will come. It has hurt our appreciation for the arts when we finally have an opportunity to enjoy the experience, because we aren’t just in that moment but remembering all the trailers, new stories and discussions that led us there.

I don’t know how to change the Internet mentality (possibly a petition…those always work) but maybe I made you stop and evaluate if you really want to know everything. If enough of us adjust our habits the focus can be put back on what we love about entertainment instead of what is going to come out. The Internet news machine already proved that it will adapt to our needs. Let’s ask for a new world.