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Spoilers and Polluters

I was originally going to call this essay “avoid spoilers”, but it sounded so stupid and obvious that I had to stop and think about it for a minute. I knew there was a meme in there somewhere, but where? Well, it turns out the word “spoiler” is the meme, in accord with the principle that words are ideas.

I assume it's well known what a spoiler is—some excerpt from or information about a work that spoils the work for one who hasn't yet experienced it. This meaning seems to be a fairly recent arrival, as it does not appear in my dictionary, which is not tremendously old.

As an aside, spoilers should be distinguished from what I'll call polluters, which are things that spoil a work even for one who has already experienced it. I don't have any specific examples at hand, so here's a general one instead: pointing out a flaw in a cool special effect would be a polluter. Basically, a polluter must be both annoying and memorable, so that you always associate to it when you experience the work.


  See Also

  History and Other Stuff
  On Spoilers
  One Word
  Review of X-Men 3

@ March (2000)