Robert Durst incriminated himself in three murders on The Jinx finale last night — immediately followed by complaints about spoiler alerts on Twitter.
Great, the NYT just sent a Jinx spoiler as a news alert to my iPhone. Not cool, guys.— Janelle Brown (@janelleb) March 16, 2015
Will some one please manually type and then mail a letter to the @nytimes explaining the new concept of "spoiler" for future Jinx coverage?— John Hodgman (@hodgman) March 16, 2015
As a West coast fan of The Jinx, I'd like to make a formal complaint against the New York Times app push notifications.— Liz Meriwether (@lizmeriwether) March 16, 2015
Debates over the etiquette of when and how it's fair to convey key information to a wide audience — not to mention the nature of what constitutes key information — have raged for years now. Vulture even wrote a manifesto and an official set of guidelines about spoilers once, which (we flatter ourselves) holds up pretty well. It's obviously true that there are some reasonable precautions that can be taken in order to preserve the element of surprise for audience members who may not be watching in real time. It's also true that, at the other end of the spectrum, extremist spoiler-alert culture can essentially translate into everyone else in the world tiptoeing around the one person who didn't get around to watching that show that finished five years ago yet.
.@vulture tweeted the MOST blatant ~spoiler~ for The Jinx tonight, even before it aired on the west coast.— danielle (@daniellegee) March 16, 2015
Great to see that spoilers for The Jinx are everywhere today. I should know better by now— Mike Quinn (@MightyQuinn28) March 16, 2015
It's not even 10 AM and The Jinx has already been ruined for me multiple times by now— Armin Rosen (@ArminRosen) March 16, 2015
But the key difference here is that The Jinx isn't fiction. It is a docu-drama about a real man who is very probably a murderer multiple times over and whose cases have been covered in the media for decades. When a famous murder suspect all but confesses, it is news, and the fact that the confession happened within the confines of a television show does not mean that that news becomes subject to the same etiquette as the latest Game of Thrones killing. Because that's fiction, and it doesn't really matter.