I fucked up on Sunday night. Big time.
Now I don’t fuck up often. Once an hour at most. And doing it large only happens maybe two, three times a week.
But this one was notable in that it involved television, the internet and a momentary lapse in etiquette which incurred the wrath of an army of internet trolls.
Okay. Not an army. One guy.
And not so much a troll as a pissed off fellow screenwriter –- which, believe me, can be a whole lot worse.
Said writer was in LA and I was a little further up the same coast just done watching the Season Two finale of AMC’s “The Killing” which I didn’t find as big a letdown as the infamous climax of season one.
But it had some fairly obvious problems. God, what is it with that show’s writer room?
Anyway. Watched the repeat to make sure I hadn’t “mis-viewed” and then went online to find out if anybody else shared my concerns.
Meanwhile, down South this other writer was –- well, I don’t actually know what fellow scribe was doing. But I’m sure his Sundays are not unlike my own in Hollywood.
So I’ll assume he’d just gotten in from a full day of doing rip curls on Muscle Beach, sponged off the spray tan and olive oil combo we WGA types use to enhance pectoral definition and had cracked the twist top of a crisp Chardonnay currently on special at Ralph’s.
He was about to settle in as his PVR unspooled “The Killing” but took a moment to scan his social media feeds first.
And that’s when we collided.
For I had forgotten to preface my musings with that well known internet version of the rotting lung on a cigarette pack -- the “Spoiler Alert”…
His evening lay in ruins. A Hiroshima landscape where once had stood the excited possibility of unmasking Rosie Larsen’s killer.
Not through any intent or malice. But because I had fucked up.
I brushed it off with attempts at humor.
He vented back. His hurt palpable between the lines.
I considered admitting I was an aging MoFo who doesn’t necessarily have his concentration laser-locked when the clock nears midnight. But I apologized instead.
He gallantly apologized back. We of the tribe of writers are like that, preferring our conflict remain on the page. But I knew he didn’t really mean it because by nature we’re also fairly passive-aggressive.
And it got me wondering. What are the ground rules for spoilers anyway?
William Graham of the British publication “Radio Times” recalls being excoriated by readers for giving away the ending of “Twin Peaks” –- sixteen years after the show ended.
At the other end of the scale, fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” went ballistic at the demise of a beloved character during this season’s finale and had their outrage (and spoilers) trending on Twitter before the credits had finished rolling.
I know because I got the news from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which doesn’t even broadcast “Grey’s Anatomy” but ranks trending topics on Twitter far above any economic apocalypse or outbreak of war in the Middle East in its newscasts.
Now, I’m certain that somewhere between those two extremes lies the happy medium, the point where it’s okay to talk about a TV show, a movie or who won the Gemini for best performance by a sportscaster in a new media mobile platform, without upsetting somebody who hasn’t experienced them yet.
This business used to be one where TV shows or movies ran once and then disappeared until Summer reruns or somebody opened a grindhouse theatre. If you missed it, you missed it.
When I was a kid I was sick a lot and sometimes I think I only maintained my connection to the culture because I had a friend who could act out every episode of “Maverick” and “The Munsters” almost word perfect.
But now we can get anything anytime and in almost every viewing format imaginable. But that means we’re not all watching the same thing at the same time, or even the same week or month.
How is anybody supposed to be able to take into account everybody else’s viewing priorities or know that somebody doesn’t get HBO and wants to wait until the “Game of Thrones” DVDs go on sale?
And is figuring out when the quarantine period is over complicated by knowing the vast majority of the people buying those DVDs have already seen the series online?
Has my own enjoyment of “Prometheus” been spoiled simply because I’ve yet to meet anybody who has seen it and liked it?
And what do we do about Critics?
This afternoon I read the New Yorker review of Aaron Sorkin’s new series “The Newsroom”. And while I don’t know what happens, I’ve got a pretty clear preconception of three of the minor characters that’s gonna be awful hard to shake.
Is something gained or lost when we blinker our selection process or cloister our reactions?
Maybe the real question is, when did we become a culture entitled to enjoy popular entertainment on our own terms and not as the transitory shared experiences they have always been meant to be?
That doesn’t absolve me of harming the experience for somebody else. But it does make me wonder when and where those of us who’ve shared it discuss our reactions.
And as far as “The Killing” goes…
There’s holes in that final episode you could fucking fly an Airbus A-380 through…