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Dear Internet (and Michael Ausiello): Stop Ruining Everything

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | May 7, 2013 | Comments ()


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This is a little thing, perhaps, and maybe not worth the space to take issue with it, but I've become increasingly annoyed with the Internet's determination to RUIN 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.








Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jenoside

    This may be less than insightful, but for shows like The Office that have, as you noted, three remaining viewers, wouldn't it be beneficial to the network for the news to break as more people might tune in to see the cameo, thereby boosting ratings. If only there are only three regular viewers and no one knows about the cameo, then only those three regular viewers will see it - and then is the point for them to be able to gloat that they saw it and no one else did? Or is the hope that the news will spread after the show via word of mouth and everyone will watch on Hulu (which would mean a loss in ad revenue for the network, kind of, as they are having to share with Hulu, although, I guess they COULD show it on nbc.com as well, so there's that)?

  • kendynamo

    similarly, i wish dusten rowles would stop ruining warming glow.

  • annie

    I just had a movie spoiled for me because of some (albeit important) discussion on casting white actors versus those of color FOR A MOVIE NOT EVEN OUT YET. Like, come on, people. I don't get upset about spoilers very often, but I realize I'm not everyone. And let me have SOME enjoyment out of trying to figure it out and the satisfaction of finding out whether I'm right or wrong by watching the damn thing first, or even just walking into things without expectation.

  • Protoguy

    I read a synopsis of this piece on Reddit.

  • ExUSA

    I read the Ausiello article. He merely quotes another source that quotes an anonymous source that says Carell making an appearance in the finale is likely, which we already knew. This is hardly showing leaked photos from the set surreptitiously taken from a camera phone. If anything, this is fitting into the PR plan nicely to drive up visibility for an aging show to get big advertiser bucks for its last episode-- the last hurrah.

    The part of me that is in digital marketing is suspicious that this site purposefully "spoiled" the Carel reveal THEN wrote an article about how shit it was for someone else to do so, in order to create a controversy to drive up traffic and ad sales. If that's the case, kudos.

  • KatSings

    Here's my thing about spoilers - if you want to avoid them, skip the trades that post them. It's not a surprise for Ausiello to post a spoiler - he makes a *name* from doing just that on the regular. It's his job to scoop things, and if you don't want those things scooped, you DON'T HAVE TO READ IT. The same goes for this very website - if y'all are posting about a subject I don't want spoiled, I just skip it and hope the title and header haven't accomplished the same. It's a hazard we run into in a modern age of oversharing and 24 hr news cycles and people who crave knowing everything before it happens. It's the time we live in now, and you can complain about it, or you can adjust.

    This is not to say that it wouldn't be nice of those of us who don't want spoilers could live easily in a spoiler free world, but it isn't reality anymore. Hell, I know what happens in Spiderman 2 because I worked a set with people who were extras who mentioned a scene they worked on that ruined it. No matter where you go in the entertainment industry, be it on set, on a blog, or just on a fan group - spoilers happen. We do the best we can to avoid what we don't want to hear, but complaining about a guy who is paid to do exactly that just seems silly to me.

  • There was one post a few months ago, a link to the podcast about TV
    shows or whatever, and at the very end (of the post, not even the actual podcast) there was a very obvious "RIP, [show character]". I was so unbelievably pissed off at you guys for that.

    Another time (and this was way less annoying, but still irritating) Joanna posted a photo for the preview of the next episode of Game of Thrones. Obviously I knew what was going to happen, but it still bugged me, because I wanted to be surprised by the visual. But I'm really really particular about watching previews and I know other people aren't, so I didn't raise up a storm about it.

    So, what I'm saying is...I totally agree with the idea of your post, but you guys keep doing that yourselves, a lot. I mostly stay quiet about it because there's no point once you've read the spoiler, but I feel like I might as well bitch about it now on a post that's just about that. I guess even you guys have to be more careful about it sometimes.

  • e jerry powell

    I managed to avoid all spoilage on Drag Race last night, even though I knew what the outcome would be by simple process of elimination, so the fact that I wasn't on the internet was really immaterial, but yeah, spoilage sucks balls, particularly from what are supposed to be legitimate media outlets talking about shows they allegedly like. Ausiello seems to be able to keep his trap shut with showrunners that he actually talks to directly.

  • Captain D

    Don't forget Legos. They keep spoiling the comic book movies.

  • er

    I wasn't spoiled on the office surprise until I read this. You may have wanted to note that you were about to ruin the surprise.

  • SnowMan

    True story: The first time I watched "Zombieland" and saw them driving through gates marked with the initials "B.M.," the first celebrity name that flashed in my head was Bette Midler.
    Now, the cameo we got was absolutely one of the best things ever. But wouldn't it also have been pretty cool if the one person Tallahassee wanted to see was Bette Midler?

  • oilybohunk7

    I would have loved if it was Bette Midler.

  • Boston Red

    You don't know how disappointed I was that it wasn't Barry Manilow.

  • Amanda

    I didn't know about Steve Carell's return until I read this. Womp womp.

  • er

    And they have two posts announcing it. But it is the rest of the internet that is ruining things somehow.

  • Brooke

    I was just complaining to my husband about this because of Pajiba. The picture posted for this weeks SNL recap completely ruined the Bradley Cooper/Ed Helms cameos. So it's kinda pot calling the kettle black. I DVR the show so we can watch it together first thing Sunday morning, because he works nights. Before we even got the chance, boom, right there in my face.

  • poopnado

    Pajiba frequently ruins endings/surprises for me. E.g. THIS ARTICLE. I did not know that Michael Scott would be returning. I guess it was kind of stupid of me for clicking on it, but there was no spoiler warning!

  • Nicole_OCTV

    That's a good point - I had the same thought when I went on Pajiba on Sunday. I usually watch SNL early to mid-week and I was kind of annoyed that they spoiled the cameos too.

    I have no problem with a site posting spoilers for already-aired episodes as long as they do it after the jump for an article. Of course, if I choose to read an entire article about an episode that's aired but I haven't yet watched, that's on me. But if you put something in the headline or the main photo or really, anywhere on the main page, that's shitty. Vulture is terrible for this too. I totally got spoiled on the big Parks & Rec moment that happened earlier this season because they had it on their main page like five minutes after it aired. I was SUPER PISSED about that one. That moment was supposed to be a total surprise - there had been nothing in the press beforehand, they weren't hyping it, and as lovely as it was, I really wish I hadn't been expecting it.

    Ausiello could have done the same with his news too - intimate that he has a major spoiler for the finale and let whomever wants to know that they can click through to read about it. I was pissed at this specific spoiler too. I didn't want to know. I'm one of the 3 people still watching The Office and I don't want to know anything before the finale. I assumed he was coming back, but certainly didn't want it confirmed. But I really do find it annoying knowing anything going into an episode, especially a big 'game changer' episode or a season or series finale.

  • Couldn't agree more with the sentiment. Unfortunately, there's a giant market out there for spoilers, and if Ausiello doesn't fill it someone else will. Hell, it's his job to break this sort of news.

    What's really interesting is how a show's cache affects spoilers. Someone could spoil "Game of Thrones" literally at any time, yet the Internet is almost hypercautious about leaks and sensitive plot points. Spoilerish comments are scrubbed immediately from posts; their authors banned. Matthew Weiner is notoriously secretive about "Mad Mad," so much that he asks critics not to divulge information such as the year or where characters go on vacation. And critics actually respect that. I'm not sure if that has more to do with the lack of access that would result if an outlet pissed off Weiner or a general acceptance of his philosophy. Either way, it seems like critically acclaimed dramas run far tighter ships than say, an eight-year-old comedy limping toward the finish line.

  • lowercase_ryan

    It's kind of sad that "ruiner" became a real thing and not just something Jenn screams at everyone on facebook.

  • LaineyBobainey

    Which is actually pretty funny since Jenn is the original RUINER!

    Ugh, such a ruiner.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I just know she gets a sick thrill out of it too.

  • WhoDeyKY

    the typo in the header is driving me bonkers.

  • blurghh

    Not just the header, it's misspelled the exact same way in the article too.

    what is an interent

  • Afferbeck

    I absolutely hate 'next time, on...' at the end of shows. I immediately stop watching so I'm not spoiled.

  • Me too. My husband wonders why I get so mad at the Game of Thrones previews, given that I already know what's gonna happen. Well, yeah, I know, but I still want to be surprised at how the show does it! I don't want to sit through the whole episode knowing that a certain scene is coming up, and when it does show up and it's supposed to be really good I'll just be all "OH, well I'm not really excited about it now". And it sucks.

    Which is the main reason I stopped watching movie trailers. They give some seriously important stuff away and it pisses me off.

  • PerpetualIntern

    Except the Arrested Development ones. I hope you didn't deprive yourself of those.

  • mlurve

    Except for the Mad Men ones, which are hilariously vague and pointless.

  • Arran

    They've started to remind me of the silly intros they do on Top Gear sometimes. "This week: James wears a shirt! Richard looks at a blackboard! And I tie a shoelace!"

    NEXT TIME ON MAD MEN. Roger opens a door. Don stares at something. Peggy smiles.

  • nachosanchez

    The "previously on" segments are just as bad, because it's basically screaming "Hey, remember when this stuff happened or this character appeared? I hope so, because it's significant!"

  • annie

    I was just about to say that! "Oh, I wonder what this episode will be about. Possibly the thing revisited 3 times in that 5-minute recap."

  • Tinkerville

    "Then you sound like the guy who has seen a movie 47 times who keeps whispering, “This next part is great.”

    I hate those people. Hate them. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. I almost caused a breakup between a friend and his girlfriend in college when she did that for the millionth time and I politely asked her to stop. She got huffy and asked my friend if he'd let me speak to her that way. Turns out that yes he would, because she was being obnoxious. Don't force your past viewing experiences on people who are trying to absorb a story for the first time.

  • meadowdancer

    OMG yes! It is exactly that person. I hate that person. They are also the person that if you disagree with what they found so great about the novel/t.v./movie will try to ground your opinion down to make sure you agree with them. HATE.

  • sjfromsj

    YES. Even worse: My friend would constantly explain what was happening in a movie or series with information you get later on that he obtained by having previously watched it. I finally called him out on this major annoyance in front of a huge group of friends. We didn't really watch too many things together that he had previously seen after that.

  • oilybohunk7

    I'm a weirdo, I love spoilers. I am the type of person that will read the last chapter of a book and then go back and read the rest but as much as I enjoy spoilers I don't spoil things for other people.

  • simplysarah

    I'm right there with you.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this.

    I am rarely bothered by spoilers, but I have learned to keep my mouth shut about spoilers around others.

  • oilybohunk7

    Thank you!

  • meadowdancer

    I stopped reading that guy years ago for crap like this. I don't want to be spoiled on endings in t.v. since hey that's why I watch them.

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