Several anecdotes and fables express how the journey to accomplish a goal is sometimes more important than the goal itself. Not only is this true for physical journeys, but mental ones as well.
In an age where the term “spoiler alert” has become an accepted but hated phenomenon, it is disappointing to see how easily people are willing to give up on experiencing a story or a movie when the ending is ruined for them.
For example, with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, avid readers would go out of their way to make sure that key plot points were not revealed to them. In fact, some notorious e-mailers made a sport out of mass e-mailing spoilers on the same day each book came out for purchase. With cinema the scenario is quite similar, such as when M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense came out in 1999. For as long as five years after the movie’s original release, most people would try to be polite by making sure that everyone in the room had seen the movie before they revealed the twist in the plot.
Granted, the suspense of not knowing what will happen in a story is part of the fun, and being robbed of that can lessen the experience. Nevertheless, the point of dedicating two hours of your day to watch a movie, or months of your time to read a series of books is not to immediately know the end result. Moviemakers and novelist would save a great deal of time if they just gave you a quick synopsis of the story along with the ending scene, but that wouldn’t be entertainment.
Even if you know the ending of the story, the point of being there is to experience all of the idiosyncrasies and side plots that occur along the way. In most mainstream Western cinema, we as the audience know that eventually good will triumph over evil, the dorky guy will mess things up but still somehow patch things up with his soulmate, and that the horrific monster will be temporarily defeated until a sequel is approved. Does this stop us from watching movies?
Storylines in cinema and in literature have a large amount of predictability because they are reflections of common day occurrences. Generally more extraordinary events occur amidst fictitious tales, but still there are only so many storylines that an audience is able to believe or is willing to suspend their disbelief for.
Should we still get angry when the ending of a story is ruined? To say no would be rather idiotic — your feelings are your own and you should safely express them as you see fit. What is the bigger issue here is whether you should allow such an event to control what movies you see or books you read.
With the Harry Potter series, if you have already invested the time to read books 1-6, which is 3,341 pages of a fantastically riveting storyline, and you choose to stop short at book 7 because someone told you whether or not Harry triumphs in the end—well, you are really cheating yourself out of something great. There is so much going on in that series that you should not let yourself get so frustrated that you stop reading the series when you’re so close to understanding all of the character motivations, side plots, and main story objectives.
Movies, as well, are more than worth the two hours of your time to experience them, even if you know what is going to happen. Since movies are such a visual and audio media, just knowing the ending is literally the tip of the iceberg. Seeing how actors/actresses deliver their lines, watching how directors play with light and shadow, and all of the costuming and special effects — there’s just so much to take in and that shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed because of one rude individual telling you the ending.
Yes — it will and should make you lividly upset when some jerk blabs, but don’t let your anger stop you from experiencing all of the aspects involved in great story making. Remember that what makes a tale live on for years to come isn’t the ending, but rather it’s the characters involved, the journeys they take, the deeper issues involved, and how an audience interprets the story as a whole. That’s why we like to be entertained. We should invest ourselves and our time in all of the details involved that create the whole picture, not just that last piece of the puzzle.