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The University of Southampton
FilmPart of Humanities

Do spoilers spoil your enjoyment?

Published: 2 October 2013
Professor Lucy Mazdon

Are ‘spoilers’ that give away crucial plot detail of films or TV series in advance ever acceptable? Head of Film Professor Lucy Mazdon has contributed her opinions to a BBC Online news story on the subject.

Although spoilers hit the headlines this week when some people leaked the ending of the latest blockbuster Breaking Bad, they are not new; the term was already in use in 1971 when someone wrote an article revealing the final twist in the film Psycho.

Many fans of cult series try their best to avoid learning in advance how their favourite shows end, followers of social media may find it impossible to escape altogether. Lucy says one group who accept spoilers as a fact of daily life are film studies academics. “Our work is much more reflective and we can typically assume our readers will be familiar with the films we write about. This differs from popular film criticism which people rely on to help them decide what to see, spoilers would be unacceptable there.”

At Southampton, Lucy researches and teaches film history. Among her publications is French Cinema and Britain: Sex Art and Cinephilia (Berghahn, 2013) with Catherine Wheatley. Her courses include contemporary French cinema, French cinema of the 1930s and cinema and childhood.

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