There’s a lot of terrible, depraved material out there on the internet — porn, gore, and bigotry of every imaginable flavor. And, as the “front page of the internet,” Reddit collects a lot of it, and often tolerates it in the name of free speech. One thing Reddit can’t tolerate, though? Spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Although the movie doesn’t open everywhere until midnight on Friday, some people have attended premieres and early screenings, and they’ve set out to ruin the movie for everyone else. Moderators of Reddit’s largest movie community report banning “dozens” of users for revealing plot details, and the moderators themselves have all had the movie spoiled for them. Other subreddits are dealing with the same problem — you’d hate to be in charge of r/StarWars right now.
Unfortunate, to be sure, when a small, troll minority intentionally ruins an experience for others. But some are also pointing to an apparent hypocrisy in the Reddit hive mind. Many on the site oppose “trigger warnings,” giving readers a heads-up when a post’s subject matter might trigger past traumas like sexual assault or racial attacks.
These people argue that trigger warnings cater to the easily offended, and are effectively a form of censorship. We shouldn’t protect people from reality, they say — we have to accept that rape really happens.
So it’s especially uncomfortable when the same group demands to be protected from finding out the details of a space fantasy that will likely be the most popular and highest-grossing film of the year. Spoiler warnings? Don’t we have to accept that Han Solo really dies (or whatever — I haven’t seen the movie), as George Lucas and J.J. Abrams have decreed? This film is part of the Star Wars canon, after all. You can’t expect others to protect you from it your whole life.