"Rosebud" is Kane's sled. Ilsa leaves Rick at the airfield in Casablanca. Darth Vader is Luke's father. It was all a dream for Alice's Wonderland and Dorothy's Oz. Dumbo can fly. King Kong dies when he falls off the Empire State Building. The Grinch's small heart swells when he learns of the Christmas spirit.
Ah, spoilers. Nothing heats up the blood of the average moviegoer faster than hinting of what is to come. It's gotten to the point where people will absolutely lose their minds even if you so much as suggest a plot point, no matter how trivial. And in today's day and age of groundbreaking television and social media, it's gotten even worse. With shows like "The Walking Dead", "American Horror Story", or "Once Upon a Time", people will watch with ardent fervor, anxiously awaiting when the next character will die or discover a life-changing secret. When those on the east coast vent on Facebook and Twitter over said developments, those in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones will go ballistic. From cursing to venom-filled death threats.
And I...just don't get why.
Maybe it's because I was raised on diet of Disney movies as a kid. Who didn't, right? But that passion stayed with me longer than it does for most everyone else. Even today, I'd still rather watch "Wreck-it Ralph" or "Mary Poppins" than "Paranormal Activity" or "Harry Potter". But here's the thing: Disney movies are a fairly predictable lot. It's not only hard, but darn near impossible to have an ending to an animated Disney film that doesn't end with the good guys getting nearly everything they want and the bad guys getting eradicated as terminally but bloodlessly as possible. The princesses will be married to a studly prince. The parents will usually be dead or at least indisposed. The sidekicks will get what they want most because they helped out our heroes. And of course, the phrase upon which the premise of "Once Upon a Time" is based, the "happily ever after".
But knowing spoilers in Disney movies is its own advantage, too. When I went to see "Tangled" in 2010, like everyone else, I was shocked when Flynn was at death's door and Rapunzel's healing hair was cut. I was present enough to try to figure how the flying heck they were going to end with Rapunzel and Flynn getting married, happily ever after. Let's be honest, there was no way Disney would ever end on a downer note like that and get away with it. The point I'm trying to make is that I already knew how the movie was going to end. This in no way inhibited my enjoyment of "Tangled", much less alleviated the tension of a very poignant scene.
"So what?!" I hear you cry, because you're mad I spoiled something about "Tangled", which you haven't seen yet, "If someone told you about how Rapunzel used her magic tears to heal Flynn, you'd be mad they spoiled it for you!" And the answer is no. No, I would not. Great example: When "Toy Story 3" came out earlier that year, I found a local Walgreen's that had the entire movie as a comic book, nearly verbatim in terms of dialogue in most parts. I hadn't even seen the movie yet by that point. And I read it. Cover to cover. And I went to see the movie a few days later. And you want to know something funny? I cried just as hard as everyone says they did. Heck, I'm tearing up now just thinking about it all over again.
Now how could this be?! Hadn't all the heartrending plot points been exposed to me and diluted the intensity of the emotions? Hadn't it meant so much less when Andy left the toys to Bonnie because I saw it coming? The answer is no. Not one iota. Like others in my generation, I was entranced by the saga of Buzz Lightyear and Woody since 1995. By the time 2010 rolled around, I was practically convinced that Andy's toys were already real. The movie did a better job of setting up Andy's advancing age, which was the movie's key hook and a practical landline to the feels of every 18-to-25 year old who watched the movie.
The average spoiler-hater will just be angry that you said Iron Man diverted a nuke to blow up the Chitauri ship in "The Avengers", or that Jake and Elwood wind up in jail at the end of "The Blues Brothers". Then there are the spoiler...HATERS. These are the people who will flat-out refuse to watch a movie once they are privy to anything at all related to the movie or show. Everyone knows someone who is this person. One afternoon in my work's breakroom, a coworker was watching "The Walking Dead" on his iPad. He recoiled upon seeing Bob's leg being eaten. To which I responded, "If you think that's gross, wait until you see what happens to him in the next episode!"
You would have thought I let out the world's loudest, most malodorous fart, upon hearing everyone's loud, hate-filled groans. What did I say that destroyed the episode's integrity? What had I revealed? How did anything so vague inspire so much ire? I remain at a total loss.
These spoiler HATERS confound me so. Would they ever watch "Citizen Kane", "Dumbo", "The Empire Strikes Back", or "Casablanca"? These movies' endings are famous, if for nothing else, by how they end. What about "Chinatown" or "Some Like it Hot": movies with famous final lines? Or how about Hayao Miyazaki's "Graveyard of the Fireflies", a movie, not unlike "Tangled", begins with the chilling, heartbreaking finale? Do they ever watch them? I mean, if people like my spoiler-hating "Walking Dead" fans, who are so quick to ire over such a minor transgression, would they ever watch "Dumbo"? A movie where since 1941, every poster and trailer has featured the infant elephant in flight? A feat that is accomplished almost a full hour into a 64 minute movie? Oh, spoiler alert indeed!
But since I am clearly in the minority when it comes to spoilers, let me at least elaborate on a little insight as to why we should stop stressing over them. If, like me, you can hear about these spoilers and focus on what's important - the characters, the effects, and cinematography/animation - you may be surprised to find that even though you may know what may happen next, you're so blown away by what you're seeing that you just may not care. If we all know in a superhero movie the hero is going to defeat the villain, or if in any romcom they'll wind up together, or in any prequel it'll...well, wind up setting up the original movie's plot because that's why you're watching a prequel in the first place...
...Then you just may enjoy the movie. Even knowing the ending in mind.
Oh, and Soylent Green is people, too.