You don’t need to have too much of a think to think of a book, film, or TV program that received a great deal of hype. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad (SHHHH SPOILERS, I’m only on series 4), Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, Twilight to name but a few.
The thing with hype is, wrongly or rightly, it is often just that hype which got you to engage with the story in the first place. Partly because I decided I was going to do a language study on the book, and partly because I was interested to see what all the fuss was about, I read Fifty Shades of Grey. It was awful. Not because I’m a snob, and thought the prose was intolerable (though it was), but also because I found the main character, Ana, just an awfully two-dimensional human being. Now that makes a hell of a lot more sense when you realise it’s fan fiction for Twilight. Now I actually enjoyed the latter, but found Fifty Shades just the most irritating book, with the voice inside my head working overdrive and screaming ‘GET A BACKBONE’ at the poor woman. But I read both because of the hype surrounding them.
I do think, though, a lot of your enjoyment of something comes not from the content of a film or book, but from the ‘place’ you’re at. This place could be quite metaphorical – I’ve made no secret of how much I enjoyed Perks of Being a Wallflower and I think a lot of that had to do with the fact I was a younger teenager when I first approached it – but it could also be quite literal. I watched the recent film Gravity on the plane to Canada, and aside from having me as a perfect audience (bored, looking for something to do to pass eight hours), I can’t help feeling that the occasional turbulence on the aircraft added something to the experience of floating through space without a hope in hell. Equally, though, I watched American Hustle and was bitterly disappointed with how much my frequent desire to go and see it, and disappointment when the film times weren’t showing at the right times, didn’t match actually getting to watch it.
I also think that to a certain degree, ‘hype’ makes us human. We have a social desire to share things we have enjoyed with the people we are close to (or maybe not, in the case of blog posts), and though that sometimes creates a feeling that some things are anticlimactic, it also creates bonds. And generally, for me, hype is important. It helps me to accept or reject new authors, modes of storytelling and directors, and even if I eventually end up doing the latter, I have discovered something new. I think it could be quite easy, were the media quiet and our friends, family, peers, colleagues even quieter, for us to wander through life with a very closeted view of what we like. Hype can be annoying, ungrounded even in our opinion, but when receive a recommendation, read a review or see it advertised for the MILLIONTH TIME, and then decide to read it or see it, then that’s a risk we take.
Photo – Dreamstime (link on picture)