I remember an episode of Angel during its second season that ended with Drusilla bursting into a hotel room and whisking away the now human Darla while Angel was taken out by Wolfram and Hart henchmen.
The show’s creators wisely left actress Juliet Landau’s name off the list of guest stars in the opening credits so as not to ruin the impact of her appearance.
Watching The Usual Suspects with a friend, I was absolutely certain that Keyser Soze was Keaton all along and thought myself vindicated with barely ten minutes left in the movie only to stare at the bulletin board as dumbfounded as Dave Kujan as the pieces that fell into place pointed at the supposedly handicapped and insecure Verbal Kint after all.
Son of a…!
But now in the day and age of the Internet and press leaks and the like, it has gotten harder to keep surprises under wraps for more than a day or so after an issue or show debuts, if it even still is a secret upon release.
I happened to have the day off from work and was planning on heading to the store at 11 am. But at around 9 am, I logged onto my computer to check my Yahoo! mail and there it was on the front page of the website—“Captain America Assassinated!”
I looked on CNN, FOX News, ABC, and MSN and you know what I found?
The same damn thing staring at me from the front page of each site!
What the hell?!
Even she’s upset about that crap and she was IN the issue!
With Superman, DC advertised his death for months but this was a blindside. Hours before any stores could open, the cat was out of the bag for anyone who just wanted to check an email or see the weather or get an update on events around the world.
Years later, a careless mistake by a Dark Horse Comics employee led to the mystery of the lead villain in Buffy Season Eight being ruined, and Comic Book Resources neglected to hide the leak behind a spoiler warning of its own and had it right there on the front of its website.
Nearly three years of mystery vanished overnight.
Yeah, yeah, I know who you are; it was on the news last month…
So now you understand why, a few weeks back, I took some drastic action when Marvel Comics announced they would be releasing the “death” issue of Fantastic Four a day early to be followed by a press conference.
Staying away from comic and entertainment sites would be easy, but previous experiences told me I could not trust conventional news sites to keep their mouths shut, so I had no choice but to completely unplug from the ‘Net, foregoing my political blog, minding my business about politics and warfare, ignoring the box scores from the previous night’s games.
I would not have a clue about the world around me, but I was damned if I was going to let one of the few surprises left in comicdom get away from me.
And it worked.
I managed to avoid all coverage, rushed to the comic store and entered with my iPod on just in case anyone was talking about it. I bought the issue and got into my car and read to the end with the satisfaction that I had beaten the spoilers just this once.
Ha! I beat you, Fantastic Four #587!
But what about the next time?
With movies and comics and television shows looking to maximize exposure and “leaking” secrets, it is getting harder to be surprised, more difficult to watch something and go, “I didn’t know he was coming back!” Or, “Did they just kill her off?!”
Have we reached the point where in order to derive enjoyment from the prospect of surprise we have to be reduced to hermit status? Is that really where we are?
See? This guy has the right idea…
And with that, I leave you with these twists exposed:
The chick in The Crying Game is a dude.
“Rosebud” is his sled.
Bruce Willis is dead all along in The Sixth Sense.
And if you are reading this between 6 and 7 pm, EST?
I am not wearing any pants because—SPOILER ALERT!—6 to 7 pm is Naked Time.
I bet you wish you unplugged from the ‘Net now, huh?
Quick? Guess who’s NOT wearing these…