Alright, I have been thinking about social media a lot lately, thanks to my master’s program in media psychology, and I think I’ve made it clear that I’m a bit of a BBC’s Sherlock fan. If not, don’t get me started. Anyway, I am also a fan of the most recent Star Trek film by JJ Abrams and cannot wait for the one about to be released.
Here’s the problem:
I got into Sherlock after the first two seasons had already been filmed, shown on tv, and put on Netflix; which was awesome, because then I could watch them boom-boom-boom one after another. As soon as a third season was confirmed by the creators, all hell broke loose. I had found Tumblr and was on Instagram and Twitter, and I hadn’t seen such crazies* since my days as an NSync fan. (*I say ‘crazies’ totally lovingly as I am one of them.) Let’s just say, thank God for the hashtag “spoiler” because otherwise I would know way too much. I like surprises, I really do. I like going into a movie having not already researched every nook and cranny and found out who plays who. It’s supposed to be an escape, not familiarity at that point. Not everyone shares my stance. It’s been a challenge to navigate Instagram and Twitter for months now because of everyone posting filming locations or photos of characters that should have died in the last series, but here they are on set again, or what have you.
Then there’s Star Trek: Into Darkness. I can’t frickin’ wait to see this movie. I am not a Star Trek fan in the least, I know nothing about Star Trek, but I do know that I loved JJ’s first Star Trek and I’m going to love this one, also. My love for the film might also revolve (a bit) around the fact that *Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the baddie. (*Gosh, what else does he star in, I just can’t put my finger on it…) However, there is a mysterious quality in this film that JJ and Benedict have fought so hard to maintain. Who does Benedict play? Is it Kahn? Is it John Harrison? Neither will say. I wish I could find the quote, but I read an interview with Benedict where he went on about why he won’t say who he is playing. It was something along the lines of, there isn’t any mystery in going to the movies anymore because all of the information is released up front or in the trailers and then people go into the movie knowing exactly who plays who or why this particular event is happening, and I am [he is] going to try to uphold as much secrecy as I [he] can. I love that. It’s true.
With social media being about spreading as much info to as many people as quickly as possible, and the people spreading the info just want to be the ones to do it, I don’t wager many people stop and think about exactly what they’re doing. Would you really want to be the one who outed Benedict’s character as really _______? The mystique, the intrigue, some of the glory would be lost.
Don’t people want to be surprised anymore? I think the thirst for knowledge can be a bit detrimental in these cases. It’s like the faith is gone. I don’t want to get to season three of Sherlock and know how Sherlock pulled off his fake suicide in The Reichenbach Fall because some yabo tweets about it before I get to see it for myself. I don’t want to walk into Star Trek: Into Darkness and know that Benedict is actually playing _______, and not be able to participate in the collective sharp intake of breath with the rest of the audience upon his reveal.
That’s another thing I love about JJ and the creators of Sherlock (Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat) – in the latest STiD trailer, Benedict’s character is shown on some little screen with a tracking device and the name that pops up in front of him for a split second is “John Harrison.” That wasn’t a mistake, that was a mislead from JJ. I am sure of it. Same with Gatiss/Moffat – I follow Mark Gatiss on Twitter and he posted a spoiler-esque picture along with a cryptic sort of message saying that not everything being posted about filming is real/going to be used, and it’s mostly to throw people off. He did the same thing when he released the three word clues for this season*. He tweeted three words that had nothing to do with anything and then later released the ‘actual’ three words. (*For each series now, he has released three words that are supposed to be clues as to what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories they are going to use. For example, for last season, he said “Woman. Hound. Fall.” which referred to the episodes A Scandal in Belgravia – “The Woman” Irene Adler as the main character, Hounds of Baskerville, and The Reichenbach Fall. For series three, he first said “Pipe. Slippers. Bed.” and then later released the real clues, “Rat. Wedding. Bow.”)
Thank God for writers/directors such as JJ, Mark, and Steven for their creative integrity and keeping mystery as alive as it can be in this world of over-share.
Speaking of, this reminds me of how Alfred Hitchcock approached the release of Psycho. He sent letters to the theatres with explicit instructions on how to keep the ending a complete secret – locking doors, keeping guards, only using certain posters, signing waivers as not to reveal spoilers, etc. Even back then, without social media, he was readily aware of the spread of information ruining the mystique of his film. He wanted to hear the true screams when… you know, I don’t know if any of you have NOT seen this film. I’d hate to ruin it.