Amazon has taken heat for a billboard in Washington DC advertising the Kindle. Why? Well, the ad showed the first page of Mockingjay, and it was legible. I’m assuming if you’re on our site, you’ve read all the books (If not, what are you doing here?!). So you know that the first page of Mockingjay explicitly talks about the firebombing of District 12, which is the major cliffhanger that Catching Fire ends with (Gale: Katniss, there is no District 12 / Reader: *GASP*). Also the first page mentions District 13’s existence, which in the first book up until the end of the second is supposed to have been obliterated. In essence, this billboard effectively spoiled major plot points of the series, parts that are supposed to be a surprise to the reader when they find out.
So what? It’s one billboard in one city. But now it has gotten media coverage and has been exposed to far more people than it would have had it not have been made such a big deal. Not every news writer is going to be thoughtful enough to say “spoiler alert” in their articles (AdWeek went a tad overboard but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry) or put the picture of the ad under a cut.
On the one hand I’m very sensitive to spoilers. I usually don’t want to know a thing before I read or watch whatever it is. I’ve barred myself from the internet hours before an episode airs so as not to be spoiled by east coast watchers. I’ve blacklisted shows on Tumblr I am in the middle of catching up on so as not to be spoiled. And I have been careful not to mention anything big relating to the plot of The Hunger Games on my Tumblr for fear that someone who follows me hasn’t gotten to it yet (I’ve lifted this somewhat since most of my friends from other fandoms have finally read the series). So I care about spoilers and don’t take them lightly.
And believe it or not, I have faced a very similar problem to this. While I was rereading Mockingjay last month, my cousin who has yet to read the series had picked up my book while I wasn’t looking and read the first page. “District 12 gets firebombed?” he asked. I snatched the book away and gave him false answers to his questions to do as much damage control as I could.
But on the other hand, Mockingjay has been out since 2010. There has been quite a bit of buzz about the books for years so there has been ample time to read them. The Hunger Games fan in me wants to say, “Well you should’ve read it earlier.” (Then again, the reader with the long list of to-read books in me counters with, “They tried!”)
Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but with The Hunger Games movie opening and becoming such a huge sensation, it no doubt has generated interest in reading the series. People would come out of the movie wanting to read the books and find out what happens next. So the timing of a spoiler-filled billboard coming out and making news when there is a renewed interest in reading the books is incredibly unfortunate.
Dear Amazon, you messed up. I know you know that since the media keeps saying it. Next time, pay closer attention to your advertisements. And dear media, you’re not exactly helping.
I hope no on was driving while trying to read the billboard