We received more than 100 reader responses to last week’s column, “Spoil the Ending?”, where we discussed the pros and cons of giving away the conclusion to the movie Million Dollar Baby.
Many of you said you don’t want to know how a movie ends under any circumstances. Quite a few of you feel that as a Christian website, we have some sort of “moral obligation” to give away the ending if it’s potentially offensive to our fellow believers. And a whole bunch of you felt our proposed solution—adding a link at the end of the review that gives the reader the option of learning how the movie ends—is a good idea.
Some of you also noted that the words “click here” in our example did not work as a live link. To clarify: They weren’t meant to work as a live link; it was merely an example of how we might handle similar situations in the future.
Since so many of you do want the option of knowing how Million Dollar Baby ends, we’re going to give it to you. We’ve added that option at the end of our review.
We also thought you’d like to see a sampling of reader responses to this issue (readers’ names are in parentheses at the end of each response):
“I think your proposed approach is exactly right. It is patronizing to suggest that people need to be told ahead of time something that could be objectionable to them. Take this to the extreme, and you have to give away much in every movie. If a person wishes to know such things, giving them an option to learn about it seems reasonable.” (Sheldon W. Sorge)
“You have no such moral duty to give away the ending. Anyone going to a movie is impacting the experience, the experience designed by the director, by being predisposed in a certain way beforehand. I go to movies and plays to be intellectually challenged. I would like to know if there is nudity, sexuality, profanity, so I can decide whether it will be edifying. I don’t even want to know that there is a plot twist; then I’m looking for it. When reviewers do that they shortchage the experience of the film.” (William O. Holston Jr.)
“I think you did right NOT to reveal the ending. I don’t think it matters if it’s a Christian audience or not—spoiling the end (without warning) spoils the end. I watch many movies that are definitely not Christian, but which are thought provoking and encourage me to question my beliefs on the way to solidifying them. If anyone had ruined The Sixth Sense for me before I saw it, I would have been really mad.” (Christine M. Henshaw)
“I think you should give readers the OPTION of seeing your analysis of the moral issues raised by Million Dollar Baby even if that option gives away the ending of the movie. I have no intention of seeing the movie, but still want to be able to converse intelligently about it with people who have seen it. I at least want to be aware of the issues raised and be able to ask relevant questions of friends who see the movie and have formed opinions about its value.” (Steve Bennett)
“If the movie is really so good that it has a shot to win the Academy Award, then it is good enough to withstand multiple viewings. And if it’s good enough to withstand multiple viewings, then it is good enough to have the ending spoiled.” (Nick Alexander)
“In response to your warning of divulging the ending, I as a Christian want to know before I go. Please protect our values.” (Marlene Long)
“I do not think it is a moral responsibility of Christian movie reviewers to warn their readers of content that will ruin the ending of a movie.” (Tim Olshefski)
“Yes, you DO have a moral obligation to warn Christians. We depend on your advice and admonition about films, etc. Please don’t let us down. Forewarned is forearmed.” (Jackie Humphrey)
“I for one would have been most grateful for an only-click-here-if-you-don’t-mind-knowing-the-ending link. If it was a concern to you, chances are it will be for your readers. But please, in future, don’t ‘tease’ us with any more you-might-be-concerned-about-this-movie-but-I-won’t-tell-you-why reviews, and I won’t send any more e-mails with too many hyphens.” (Matthew Arnold)
“I think it is sufficient to note that the ending does raise difficult ethical questions and that Christians might be disturbed by how the film resolves those questions. Furthermore, it seems to me that Christians should confront and grapple with those things that are disturbing; we should not avoid them. Whether or not any particular film is the best forum to raise those questions needs to be decided by individual believers. For me, film is merely a mode of entertainment and not a vehicle for me to examine or to reexamine my stances on any particular ethical issue. Personally, if I want to find material to challenge me, I’ll go back and reread Bonhoeffer!” (Robert K. Postic)
“Never, never, never reveal the ending. You are not my parent or my pastor, and I don’t need your protection.” (Name to come, email@example.com)
“I found a website which gave away the ending of Million Dollar Baby. I am VERY thankful. I absolutely think you SHOULD divulge the endings of movies that have graphic and disturbing scenes. I would have been very upset to have gone to see this movie and seeing how it turned out. Please allow people the opportunity to protect themselves.” (Teresa Ludington)
“Tell us! We need to advise those around us to beware, if necessary. If you had just been down a road that led to a bridge washed out by last night’s rain, and crashed, would you leave it up to others to find out/experience it for themselves?” (Greg Rommel)
“Under NO circumstances I would like to know the end of a movie. I just hate that!” (Paulo Serras)
“I think it would be wrong to give away the endings. Part of the filmmaker’s creative process is to elicit reaction from the audience. I think adult Christians should be mature enough to handle whatever film makers throw at them and filter it through their own faith and experience. We are meant to live in this world and not insulate ourselves from difficult or disturbing things.” (Jean Ann Burgener)
“I agree fully that when an ending is going to cross ethical or moral boundaries, we brothers and sisters in Christ have the responsibility and obligation to warn each other.” (Terry & Patricia Lampel)
“Yes, I believe you do have a moral obligation to reveal objectionable material to the Christian even it if gives away the ending. It is part of your job. You are to be warning us of this very thing. I would be very upset and angry if I was not told of something objectionable in a film I went to see. It would be very hard for me to trust you or your reviews if I was not told in advance of something in a film that a Christian would find disturbing.” (Joanne Schubert)
“Yes, emphatically yes, please disclose the ending when a movie has objectionable material. It helps me not waste my time going to see the movie. I know, I know, it makes me seem like I want to stick my head in the sand ostrich-style, but I don’t go to movies to have something to discuss with unbelievers around the water cooler. I go to movies to hopefully be inspired or, at least, encouraged. Yes, I’m a happy-ending movie person.” (J DuMont)
“If we are going to trust your judgment on a film, you have that ‘moral obligation’ you speak of to tell the ‘Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth’—even if spoils the ending. Otherwise, what sets you apart?” (Donna Speakman)
“I like the idea of having the option to click on the additional information knowing it will give away the ending. Then I can make my own choice.” (Carla E. Brogden)
“I absolutely applaud the idea of including a link at the end of a review of a movie which has a morally dubious ending, in which you give us a heads-up about what to expect. It’s a win-win solution—those who don’t want to know the ending won’t have it unexpectedly thrust upon them, and others, like myself, who like to make a very informed decision, will have the information I need to make my decisions.” (Dawn McDonald)