Are ''Star Wars'' fans morally obligated to educate newbies? What's the real statute of limitations on spoilers? Our pop culture expert has the answers
[Dalton Ross is an Editor At Large at EW and a Master of Entertainment Etiquette]
I work at a library. Someone asked to take out The Empire Strikes Back after admitting he had not seen Star Wars. What to do? —Jennifer (@apatch4that)
You’ve come to the right place with this, Jennifer. Not unlike C-3PO himself, I am fluent in more than 6 million forms of communication, including (but not limited to) geek, nerd, dork, dweeb, and wannabe Jedi. This offense is not as grievous — or General Grievous, if you will — as it would seem. For one thing, The Empire Strikes Back is unquestionably the best installment in the Star Wars franchise, so you can hardly blame someone for wanting to go straight to it. Boba Fett! Yoda! Luke sucking face with his own sister! It’s all there. Also, it’s not like this guy was skipping the entire original trilogy to go Gungan-style and rock a little Jar Jar Binks. All that said…NO! DO NOT GIVE HIM THE MOVIE! Clearly you need to protect this patron from himself. How can he be expected to fully understand why Alec Guinness is some sort of vaguely bossy ghost unless he watches the complete story unfold? So wave your hand in front of your face and tell him this is not the movie he’s looking for…yet. Then force him — no pun intended — to watch Star Wars first, and hope he doesn’t whine about it like Luke and his stupid Tosche Station power converters.
I feel like it’s my obligation to tell my kids their shows are crap. Yet I watch crap myself. Hypocrite? —Angel (@theAngellawson)
I too have felt a parental responsibility to steer my children toward cool TV shows both past (Pee-wee’s Playhouse) and present (Adventure Time) while thumbing my nose at less inspired fare (I still have recurring nightmares about my daughter’s unfortunate Shake It Up phase). Yet what the hell do I know? This is coming from a guy who watched not one, not two, but three seasons of Temptation Island. So, yes, Angel, you are a hypocrite, but no, you are not alone. It’s totally ”Do as I say, not as I do” when it comes to the TV in my household. Also, keep in mind: Children have awful taste — so you’re just going to have to play through the pain for a while. When I was a kid, I thought Welcome Back, Kotter was the funniest thing in the history of things. Have you watched Welcome Back, Kotter in the past 35 years? That show is positively terrible. Signed, Epstein’s Mother
How long do you have to define a plot point as a ”spoiler” before you can assume it’s safe to talk about it? —Mystypo (@Typo_eh)
I have written extensively about spoilers before, but seeing as how I received the most questions about this very topic, my position bears repeating: While anyone tweeting, texting, or talking about supershocking TV events should respect a 24-hour spoiler-free zone, the ultimate responsibility lies with the person who did not watch the event live. If you want to remain in the dark, you need to go dark — meaning a total communication and social-media blackout. (Side note: Such situations have actually been known to come in handy for folks seeking an excuse to temporarily distance themselves from certain family members. Not that I would ever do such a thing.) Those late to the party need to put the onus on themselves instead of insisting others cater conversations to their belated viewing habits. You know, like that guy at the library who has never seen the Star Wars films and is now freaking out over my revelation of the hot and heavy Skywalker incest action.