Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Potter Unspoiled

with 3 comments

Scholastic has undertaken a supreme effort to ensure that not a single detail of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaks out from between the covers to find its way in front of the eyes of readers before the July 21st release. 

This kind of effort usually keeps to the confines of Hollywood.  The tricks filmmakers employ to ensure, what Scholastic is calling, the “magic moment,” range between practical and absurd.  And someone still manages to smuggle out the juicy details—just pay a visit here, and you will never be surprised at the movies again.  Print, however, is a different animal, and easier to contain.  At least Scholastic hopes so. 

But again, I am forced to wonder just how much of a danger those galling “spoilers” really pose.  From the article…

People read books for any number of reasons; finding out how the story ends is one among many and not even the most important. If it were otherwise, nobody would ever bother to read a book twice. Reading is about spending time with characters and entering a fictional world and playing with words and living through a story page by page. The idea that someone could ruin a novel by revealing its ending is like saying you could ruin the Mona Lisa by revealing that it’s a picture of a woman with a center part. Spoilers are a myth: they don’t spoil. No elaborate secrecy campaign is going to make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows any better than it already is, and no website could possibly make it useless and boring.

I knew when I first opened Order of the Phoenix that Sirius Black was going to die.  Knowing did not in any discernible way detract from my enjoyment of the book.  If anything, it actually made the experience more enjoyable—instead of anticipating the shock of a character dying, my focus went to Harry.  How he would react and whether he would recover were the questions dominating my thoughts, and I hung on every word out of Dumbledore’s lips in the book’s closing chapters. 

No one can spoil a good story.  Yes, there are rare cases, but in general, I believe this is true.  I actually flipped to the back of The Lord of the Rings and read how the ring was destroyed before I had even made it through half of the first book, and I still kept reading.  I knew about the firebird in the lake at the end of X2 before walking into the theater, and I still watched the movie. 

People will still read Deathly Hallows.  Some will read it many times afterward with ever growing enthusiasm until the pages become too tattered and they have to buy another copy.  So much the better.  I hope my writing can one day earn so high a compliment. 

HT: MuggleNet


Written by taj

June 29, 2007 at 10:34 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This is a really interesting perspective on spoilers. I mean, if you want your point demonstrated on a grand-scale, everyone knew the “Titanic” would sink, but that movie did ridiculously well because people still went to see it. They still went to see it, even though they knew it would end badly, because they were interested in something more than the end.

    Also, everyone knew the kind-hearted little Anakin Skywalker in Episode I would grow up to be Darth Vader, but (despite the arguable quality of the prequel trilogy – and yes, I’ll argue) people still went to see the films and made each successive film the biggest-seller of the summer.

    I think the heavy guard against spoilers is a good thing, in that there are people like my wife who just can’t enjoy the story if they know key details or the ending. If my wife knew a key detail of Half-Blood Prince, she would probably never pick up any book in the series again. So, I can see spoiler-guarding as protecting the people who make money from Harry Potter. Nothing wrong with guarding your asset, and ensuring it is as profitable as it can be.


    July 1, 2007 at 11:13 am

  2. The whole time I was writing this post, I kept telling myself, “Trav, you know you don’t really like spoilers yourself.” As a rule, I do my best to avoid them. I kept meaning to mention this somewhere, and it just never made its way onto the post.

    I think spoilers do more harm to film and television than they do books. For instance, The Usual Suspects would have been ruined for me had I known the true identity of Keyser Soze before sitting down to watch it. I wish that I had not known of Sirius’s fate going in to OOTP, but it did not ruin the experience. That plot point in the Half-Blood Prince, however, falls on the opposite end – had I known about it going in, things would have been different there, I am sure. I cannot discern what constitutes the difference.

    That being said, I’m with you, guarding your asset is a wise investment, particularly for Scholastic in this case.


    July 2, 2007 at 7:58 am

  3. I knew something key about each of the new Star Wars films about a year before the film was released. I remember knowing Anakin would be a young child, and I watched the movie fascinated with what they’d do with that since he’s supposed to be an evil mechanical adult. I knew about how the stormtroopers were created in “Clones” and so there was no surprise there, but still a lot of fun to see onscreen. I also knew pretty much every detail of Episode III long before the film was released, but still thought it was the best.

    I can’t remember anytime knowing a spoiler has ruined something for me. Even knowing several key plot points and “deaths” in the “24” series didn’t kill it for me. In fact, it probably saved me from several heart attacks. 🙂

    Hmm … now that I think about it, if I’d known the end of Lord of the Rings ahead of time, I probably wouldn’t have read it all the way. Tom Bombadil and Treebeard would have killed it for me.


    July 2, 2007 at 8:20 am

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