Last week, for a reason that escapes us now, the Ape was discussing The Godfather Part II with a few students after class. In the course of things, the Ape posed the opinion that Michael's motivation for killing his brother Fredo was completely believable. This was met with a series of incredulous gasps: "I can't believe you just told me the end of the movie." The Ape was at first remorseful; we did not want to ruin a fantastic film for these eager, if ignorant, youngsters. Later though, this seemed wrong-headed. It is canonical film and has been around for more than 30 years. Surely, the statute of limitations has expired on "spoiling" The Godfather series.
This is the kind of thing, though, that tends to rattle around in the recesses of the Ape's mind. What are the rules for spoilers exactly? Just new works? What about if the spoilee is young? What harm does a spoiler really do? Does knowledge of the end of The Godfather Part II really spoil the work?
And while the Ape takes great pains to avoid both spoiling and having things spoiled for him, we can't think of an instance where such information really lived up to the spoiler name; this would seem to suggest that the issue with spoiler's isn't material harm, but a lapse in some sort of code for discussing plot-driven works of art.
A more complete "logic of spoilers" is in the works, but we wanted first to pose the general question: What's the big deal about spoilers?