Dear Internet (and Michael Ausiello): Stop Ruining Everything
Let me back up: One of the things that I have loved about this season of "Mad Men," and each season before it, is that I have no idea what's going to happen from week to week. Why? Because Matthew Weiner takes considerable pains to ensure that I don't know anything, from refusing to show any new footage of the new season in promotional materials, to their hilariously worthless "scenes from next week." Whatever you want to say about this season of "Mad Men," at least there's still some surprise.
Likewise, "Saturday Night Live" generally bats about .500 in their attempts to keep secrets hidden. It certainly benefits from the live nature of the show, but roughly half the time, we don't know about cameo appearances in advance (at least on the East Coast, before social media ruins it for the West Coast (SORRY)), so when Jon Hamm makes a surprise appearance -- as he did last weekend -- viewers at home are treated to something very rare in television and movies today: A genuine surprise. That was fun.
That brings me to "The Office." The series ends in two weeks with a wedding episode, and I think at this point, most everyone expects that Steve Carell will return, in some capacity, for the finale. But there's a small, but important distinction between speculation and confirmation, and while we often get down on the Internet for fanning rumors, when it comes to surprising cameos, rumors are a lot more fun than confirmation.
That douche Michael Ausiello broke the news yesterday, and it was all over the Internet within an hour. You might notice, too, in the write-up that Ausiello confirms Carell's appearance despite the many, many denials from NBC and Greg Daniels over on "The Office." That's the point: The showrunners were trying really hard, and have been trying for months, to keep this a secret. Despite those efforts, spoiled sports like Ausiello refused to take the hint. Greg Daniels seemed to be screaming, "Hey man! We're trying to do something fun for the three remaining fans of "The Office," so why don't you just button your f**king lip," but Ausiello was all like, "Ha ha ha! Ruined your surprise!"
That's where we are now. Not only do we have to avoid Facebook and Twitter if we're not watching a show live, but now we have to avoid the Interent all together if we don't want surprises ruined months or years in advance (see, for instance, this post: "Seemingly Innocuous 'Amazing Spider-Man 2′ Set Photos Hint at Film's Finale," or better yet, don't. But at least it's speculation).
Shouldn't their be some sort of honor code? Shouldn't we at least try to respect the wishes of the creatives behind the media we consume? It's one thing to read the tea leaves and theorize -- and no one loves to do that more than I -- but I don't run and holler about plot points after watching a screener. I don't even want to hear, "Oh My God! You have to watch this because the craziest thing happens," because then you sound like the guy who has seen a movie 47 times who keeps whispering, "This next part is great."
Over on Cinemablend today, they're running this post: "Why Does "The Office" Want to Keep Michael Scott's Return a Secret?" You know what? I don't know. The reason is not important. But they do, and we should respect that. What Ausiello did was a total dick move. Can you imagine how much joy would've been taken out of Zombieland if Ausiello ruined that cameo? But if he had known about it, you're damn straight he would've ruined it for everyone else because he's a selfish little bitch that cares more about getting the "scoop" than viewer's enjoyment.
Look: I like entertainment trade news. I like hearing about who is cast in what film, or who is going to be in the next episode of such-and-such show. What I like even more, despite the inherent worthlessness of it, are rumors about casting. We're talking about movies and television, and not the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, so if a few websites get it wrong, I'm not going to get enraged if I get my heart set on Bradley Cooper starring in The Crow and we end up with Luke Evans. Whatever. But when someone is actively trying to keep us from knowing something for the benefit of our own enjoyment, it's a really shitty thing to do to pierce through that and ruin the surprise.