Everything's a Spoiler Now

To follow up on my post about Mad Men “spoilers,” Matt Weiner gave an interview today where he solemnly pronounced himself “shocked” by the New York Times review, and where he basically redefined a spoiler as being anything that describes any of the story points at all:

“I was shocked – really shocked,” Weiner says of the piece, which disclosed the status of Don and Betty Draper’s relationship and key details about the employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. “I would love to have it known that this was done totally without my approval.”

…“Ninety-nine percent of the reporters who wrote about the show did not write about the story,” Weiner says. “A lot of people told me they were blindsided by (the Stanley article).”

Normally a “spoiler” constitutes giving away something that’s supposed to be a surprise, or an outcome that is in doubt in the story. Telling us what someone is doing at the beginning of the season, or describing the general story of the episode, is not usually a spoiler. Writing how and why the Empire Strikes Back is not a spoiler. Writing “Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father” is a spoiler, or it would be if I had been writing that in 1980.

Weiner is trying to change the meaning of “spoiler” to encompass any and all story and character details, even the ones that are presented up-front without any suspense, which is just weird. I stand by my belief that there’s an element of marketing gimmickry in this (even if it’s not intended as such, it works that way), but I guess there’s also some delusions of grandeur mixed in there, the sense that his show is not part of the common herd and that everyone should watch and write about it exactly as he wishes.

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