Living Wright: 'Downton Abbey' ending proves people love ruining a surprise
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
2/19/13 at 7:03 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: 'Downton' proves folks love ruining a surprise
You're safe to keep reading this if you haven't watched Sunday's episode of "Downton Abbey" yet.
A few friends are holding out until a less busy evening later this week to see the period drama's third-season finale. Bless their hearts, though, it'll be tough not to accidentally find out, as it seemed half of my Facebook friends were updating their statuses about what happened on the show as soon as the credits commenced to rolling.
Besides, you have co-workers who'll blurt it out, or some random passerby standing behind you in the grocery store blabbing on the phone and being all, "Oh! Lady Mary" this or "Lawsy! Lord Grantham" that.
Or, perhaps the lowest blow, a "friend" who has waited months to get back at you for spilling the frijoles about who won Olympic gold in London before he got home to watch it himself. Yeah, you know who you are.
But you won't hear it from me, as I've loathed spoilers - both hearing them and doling them out - since I was a kid.
And I'm starting to think I'm in the minority.
Say no to spoilers
My anti-spoiler attitude can be partially blamed on Charles Schulz.
Just like TV critic James Poniewozik wrote in his "Tuned In" column for Time during last summer's Olympics, the Peanuts strip in which Lucy tells Linus what Rosebud is sorta-kinda ruined "Citizen Kane" for me. Although I appreciate Orson Welles' cinematic masterpiece now, it took me nearly 30 years to watch it because I thought that spiteful, fake psychiatrist Lucy gave too much away for me to enjoy it.
Ditto for the legendary ending to "Casablanca," which I've never seen but have pieced together from vignettes and pop-culture references.
Growing up, when Dad knew I'd seen a movie they were watching, he'd keep pressing me for details on what happened.
"You're ruining the ending," I'd maintain.
"I'm your father," he countered a time or two. That response always seemed to negate any argument I'd make.
Some folks just don't like the element of surprise. I get it, to a degree, as it can be nice to have time to prepare for something, to be in the know. This is especially true for people with control issues, which is why I loathe flying in airplanes. Or kites. Really bad experience with the latter in sixth grade, still can't talk about it.
Anyway, I spent 10 years waiting for someone to ruin the "Harry Potter" films for me, as many of my friends read the books. Thankfully, I made it to the eighth film before finding out that Lord Voldemort was really Harry's father (just kidding - or am I?).
It's a wonder, though, as we live in a world of kamikaze sound bites, with TV news crawls, tweets and a planet full of people who, despite their many differences, often seem united by one trait: an affinity for ruining surprise, my favorite unlisted element on the periodic table.
I know that "G.I. Joe" always said "knowing is half the battle," but it sure can rob the joy out of life. Is rain coming? Sure, let me know. But does my favorite character die at the end? Tell me, and I'll slash your tires.
At least when it comes to TV and film, ignorance truly can be blissful. Flying? Not so much, unless it involves a travel voucher.