Yesterday saw the release of the film Avengers: Endgame, the latest in the franchise of superhero films based on the Marvel comic books. These films have been roaring commercial successes. I myself am not a fan of the genre and have watched just a couple (The Avengers and Spiderman: Homecoming) to see what all the fuss was about. I had not planned on seeing the latest film.
But last evening I got an email from someone I do not know in which the subject line, all in upper case, revealed what is apparently a major plot twist in this film. The person who had sent out the spoiler had gone to great lengths to make sure that every single person who might in any way be connected to my university (including alumni) was made aware of the spoiler. The address line contained the addresses of about 250 email address lists (not individual addresses) that seemed to cover pretty much everyone. I think my address was in the list of physics faculty, staff, students, and emeriti. This person had gone to great lengths to obtain all these email address lists, presumably by hacking into the university server that has the database that contains all of them.
Needless to say, there was a furious reaction at this attempt to ruin the enjoyment of people who had been looking forward to seeing this film. The original spoiler email was followed in rapid succession by about a dozen other emails condemning the first one for revealing a major spoiler on the very first day of the film’s release, with some using the strongest language and even threats of violence. (I remember a similar incident some years back when the sixth book in the Harry Potter series was released that had a major plot twist and someone put out a blog post announcing the twist including the page number in which it occurred in the title, again all in upper case letters so that no one would miss it.)
People can get very angry with people who behave this way. Take this report about a scientist stabbing another person at a remote Antarctic research station.
We all know someone who does it: ruin a movie or book by telling you the ending. In frozen Antarctica, however, one guy took a bit too personal.
Russian scientific engineer Sergey Savitsky, 55, is accused of stabbing a welder at the Bellinghausen research center on King George island because “he was fed up with the man telling him the endings of books,” The Sun reported Tuesday.
The alleged victim Oleg Beloguzov reportedly gave up the endings of books Savitsky checked out of the station’s library.
I know someone who would blurt out the endings but not with any malicious intent. If you mentioned a book or a film, she would say things like “Is that the one where at the end…?” I learned never to discuss things with her that I was planning to watch or read.
I do not understand why anyone would deliberately go out of their way to spoil the enjoyment of others, including total strangers. What do they gain by it? To paraphrase Iago (Othello, Act 3, Scene 3):
“[H]e that filches from me my [enjoyment of a book or film]
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.”