No spoilers, please: we’re British
James R | On 22, Sep 2014
A new transatlantic online study commissioned by Netflix has shown that social conventions rule the roost in the UK with less than 4 per cent of Brits believing that it’s ok to spoil programmes for others, while 76 per cent of gung-ho Americans say spoilers are a fact of life.
Spoilers, though, are increasingly a fact of life, as people binge-view TV shows at different rates, leaving some far ahead of others. But while over three-quarters say spoilers are something we have to live with, 24 per cent of us Brits agree.
In fact, we’re so conscious of not giving the game away that 82 per cent of Brits say they have never cheated and watched ahead on a show they promised to view with a friend or partner. And, if we slip up and spoil a major plot twist, 58 per cent admit they feel guilty – compared to just 37 per cent of Americans.
Indeed, in the UK, outrage broke out across social media when major newspapers such as The Guardian and Metro spoiled plotlines in Game of Thrones during both Season 3 and Season 4 – a trend that appears to occur, ironically, because UK publications try to keep up with the American rate of broadcast rather than the British.
Netflix’s survey was carried out with cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, who claims there are three stages to spoiling:
1. Contained & Coded
“At this stage the majority of people take care to try not to spoil.”
2. Share Aware
“Where the emphasis shifts to the ‘spoilee’ to protect themselves in order to avoid spoilers by sidestepping social media.”
3. Uncensored Spoiling
“Where spoiling becomes a way of life with social media providing the rumour mill as has been the case for shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, to name a couple.”
British viewers, he concluded, are currently trying to stick to the first stage.
“The UK has a rich history of making great TV. And over the past few years, writers and showrunners from other countries have started creating complex and morally challenging TV, too,” says McCracken. “This new and improved TV is forcing a change in the way, the urgency, with which we talk about TV. TV has, in effect, become more provocative of spoilers and more worthy of them. While Brits are still more conservative in their TV conversation, we are seeing a less censored TV fan emerging here in the UK.”
And, with all the temptation to spoil, it appears that while we British know and adhere to the rules around spoilers, it seems we also know how to bend those rules. McCracken found that Brits are the masters of what he calls “Real-Time Subversive Spoiling” – where they can’t help but hint at upcoming plotlines they’ve already seen, when watching with others viewing for the first time. For example, as a scene is coming up, a subversive spoiler may say something like: “Oh, you are going to love this scene!”
Here at VODzilla.co, we continue to avoid spoilers in all of our reviews unless stated otherwise.