Spoilers and social justice

Pull up your chairs for a lesson in Spoilers and Social Justice. Shut up, this is important.

First of all – is it hypocritical to want spoiler alerts while thinking trigger warnings are out of hand or silly or both? Yes, yes it is. Thank you for asking that question. The answer is yes.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to the real politics.

Spoiler warnings are an intersectional social justice and accessibility issue. For example, I am rarely able to experience media right away. I don’t get to see movies when they come out because I work a lot of hours, I’m a student, and I’m usually totally broke. Spoilers are a constant reminder that I’m too poor to have the benefit of seeing movies opening weekend (or even in the theater usually), too poor to watch shows on cable, or too poor to read books right away. Helping me to avoid spoilers by labeling them helps me to experience media the way people with more money and time than me get to experience that media. When I’m angsting about not wanting a movie spoiled for me, it’s not because I’m a hypocritical jackass. It’s because I’m a poor college student who has to wait a few weeks to see a movie I’m excited about but cannot afford the time or cash to see yet.

We just don’t think, do we. We forget all about poor people, shivering in their rags and unable to see the new Star Wars movie the day it opens. We just stride past them, holding out their sad little tin cups, on our way to buy a $200,000 T shirt and tickets to the new Star Wars movie.

From an accessibility perspective, there are many people with a wide variety of disabilities who may not be able to see a movie when it is in theaters, or who may not get through a book quickly.

That’s true, that’s true. I’d better stop talking about books, and articles too, because who knows how many people haven’t had time to “get through” them yet, who are nevertheless reading my blog posts?

People with PTSD, agoraphobia, or a myriad of other concerns may be unable to see a movie in a theater but will be thrilled to see the same film in their living rooms. I love to watch movies with my friend with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, and would hate to have those movies spoiled for her just because her condition makes the loud sound systems of movie theaters intolerable. Should I feel free to spoil a book that my dyslexic friend is in the middle of reading just because I read it faster?

Hell no! That would be awful! That would be the worst kind of cishet white ablebodied privilege. I feel sick just thinking about it.

Trigger warnings are essential for making our writing, classes, and world more accessible for people. Spoiler warnings are, too. Let those of us who, for whatever reason, get to a piece of media after you enjoy it the same way you do. I know you’re a mega-fan who got to see Long Awaited Movie on opening day, but I have to wait until payday. Then I’ll go to the theater, with a pair of earplugs for the loud bits, and with your help I’ll get to experience it the same way you did on opening day.

I see Utopia arriving.

Oh wait, is that a spoiler?

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