When we’re done opening presents on Christmas Day, our family is headed over to the newly opened movie theater that has couches and such and watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was a big fan of the original trilogy but didn’t even bother to watch the second trilogy until recently. Still, I’m excited enough about this new one that I’m avoiding reading reviews or reading commentary about it on social media.
Like many critics, The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday worked with her editor, a Star Wars fan who’d also screened the film, to ensure her review didn’t include too many plot details. An overly descriptive piece would not only constitute lazy criticism, but would also inflame moviegoers who have grown fanatically wary of “spoilers.”
“I really do take it seriously, and my editors are pretty sensitive to it too,” Hornaday says. “When in doubt, don’t give it away. That’s our idea of a best practice.”
Nevertheless, Hornaday received an email from a disgruntled reader on Wednesday afternoon. “For the love of God,” it began, “please please please have someone add a disclaimer before your review that says it includes plot spoilers … I can’t remember the last time I felt so compelled to write to a newspaper, if ever.” The spoiler, the reader added, came with Hornaday’s mention that “[Luke] Skywalker has been missing for the past 30 years, during which time an evil empire known as the First Order has taken power.”
It was the most basic of plot descriptions. Yet the reader’s email was emblematic of a great disturbance felt across the social Web since Wednesday morning, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror that their Star Wars-watching experience might be ruined by mundane scene-setting.
Do you feel the same way?