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Why Hype Culture Ruins Entertainment

It's early 2014, and you're seeing a lot of adverts for this new came called "Destiny." You're not sure what it is, but from the trailers and TV spots, the game looks pretty neat. You start to look up a few things about the game so you really know what it is, and you see all of this speculation, all of this excitement, all of this hype. Everyone online is anticipating its release, and after preview footage and screenshots are leaked the hype profoundly intensifies. Soon enough, there is an immense crowd of people waiting on pins and needles for the release of Destiny. You passively sit back, indulging in the hype, knowing for sure that Destiny is going to be the greatest game you've ever played. Hoards of people online balloon the suspense behind its release and put it on a pedestal as the greatest release in years. September 2014 rolls around and you have your copy of Destiny pre-ordered, and you're ready to pick it up on its release date. You receive your copy and you rush home, salivating, crying, doing all sorts of things you'd never do in public because you're a man, and you run to your Xbox 360 and pop the game in. You start playing it, and two hours into the experience, you feel like there's something missing. The game isn't bad; in fact, it's really quite good. It simply isn't living up to your expectations. It's not what you thought it was going to be. It's not the best.

The next logical step is to send your copy of Destiny through the industrial-strength paper shredder you bought off of Amazon; and here you were, thinking that paper shredder would never have a use. You sit there with a devilish smile on your face as that disc is shredded into about two-hundred different pieces and makes, quite simply, the worst noise you've ever heard in your life. After you confirm that you, indeed, brutally destroyed your very expensive copy of Destiny, you head to the internet and proceed to rant about how Destiny is simply the worst game of 2014, and perhaps, the worst game ever. You watch YouTube videos about how much the game disappointed you and upset you while amateur Call of Duty: Ghosts footage plays in the background of the incoherent rant. You triumphantly agree, and then you patiently wait for the end of the year to come so you can watch all of the YouTube videos that put Destiny in their "Top 10 Worst Games of the Year" lists. After a lot of this initial anger calms down, your friend invites you over, and eventually, you sit down and play some Destiny. After a little bit of gameplay, you realize, "Huh, this game isn't really that bad. What's it doing sitting destroyed among a bunch of other angrily shredded homework assignments and blank pieces of paper I shredded because I spent $250 on this paper shredder and felt obligated to use it?" You realize that even though the game isn't really a masterpiece, it's actually a pretty well-made game and worth a bit of a time investment. So, what exactly got you so angry about this game that isn't even very bad? Well, you were so convinced it was going to be a flawless masterpiece that when it was released to be just a "good game," your profoundly high standards dictated that the game was actually trash, and so you consequently decided it was trash. And, naturally, shredded it. That is the Hype Machine at work.

Since the dawn of the internet and widely inflated advertising campaigns, hype culture has weeded its way into the mainstream. When a major title is released by somewhat reputable creators, the internet tends to go have a massive party that absolutely everyone is invited to attend. People seem to decide that, because something they perceive as familiar is being released, it's going to be a miracle in its quality. People build up the quality of something so high before it's even released that there is objectively no way that the final product is going to reach those standards by any means possible. Some products are elevated to a god-tier status and everyone wildly hypes and screams about it, not giving pause to any acidic criticisms such as, "Maybe this game isn't going to be the second coming of Christ?" and continuing to rejoice with their ears plugged. That is obviously a wild generalization, as a lot of people aren't like this and there's a good portion of hype culture that isn't like this. Some people are hyped simply because they are excited for the release of a product. There are people, however, that indulge in a cartoonish-level of excitement and judge an unreleased game or movie on arbitrary factors such as the quality of its trailer and the people who made it.

The quality of a final product cannot be judged on the teases and prototypes that it has to offer. For example, The Gift has an absolutely awful trailer. It's very jarring in its bad editing and also doesn't even give an accurate summary of the movie's core plot. When I saw the trailer, I thought it was terrible, and as a result, I thought the movie was going to be terrible. I went and saw it anyway to give it a chance, and it ended up being one of the best movies of 2015 for me. In contrast, go have a watch at Battle: Los Angeles' trailer. It is, quite simply, beautiful. It reveals almost nothing about the contents of the movie's plot, captures a lot of exciting parts of the movie, and The Sun's Gone Dim perfectly complements the events seen in the trailer. The movie itself, however, is aggressively bad. Actually, I can't accurately say all of it is; in my three attempts in trying to watch it, I have fallen asleep at various times and haven't actually completed the movie. Just know it's nowhere as exciting as the trailer makes you think, and is harrowing in how boring it is. Both movies had relatively unknowns behind the camera, and people judged these movies strictly on their trailers. In 2010, I saw the Battle: Los Angeles trailer in theaters, and it excited me like no other. Granted, I was also 12, but I also remember my dad leaning over to me and expressing his desire to watch that movie, too. When we saw the trailer for The Gift in theaters, he leaned over to me and told me "That doesn't look too good." His opinions on both movies are in stark contrast to how he felt about their trailers.

Granted, there are more obvious cases where trailers can reveal the quality of a movie. If you go watch the trailer for House of the Dead or Cool Cat Saves the Kids, you know the movie is going to be awful. Those have such bad trailers because there aren't really any redeemable parts in their respective movies, and as a result, there really isn't any way a trailer editor is going to salvage the movie's awful, awful parts and cohere them into an appealing package that the producers can advertise. The thing about awful movies, however, is there isn't any hype surrounding them. There isn't really a way to tell if a bad or disappointing movie is going to be either of those things if there are good parts in them that editors and package into a nice trailer. Take a movie like Man of Steel or The Phantom Menace, however. Both of these movies have really great parts that can be taken out of context and fashioned into a nice advertisement that will attract people into theaters. As their respective cohesive wholes, however, neither movie is a masterpiece or anything to remember after a week or so. Is either movie bad? Absolutely not. Both movies deliver coherent stories, good performances, and wildly creative eye candy (at the expensive of a worthy script). I can't in good conscience say that either movie is bad, but they aren't particularly amazing, either. It's staggering, however, how many "Worst Movies of 2013" lists Man of Steel is on, and how many "Worst Movies of All Time" lists The Phantom Menace is featured on. When there are movies like Jack and Jill, Blended, and Grown Ups 2 in existence (I honestly didn't even mean to say three Adam Sandler movies) it baffles me that something like The Phantom Menace is thrown into that sort of mix, and not even because the quality of the movie was consistently terrible. A movie can't simply be "bad" and thrown into a "Worst Movies Ever" list. It takes a truly terrible, awful mess to achieve that. The most accurate word to describe Man of Steel or The Phantom Menace is not "awful," "terrible," or "bad,"; it's "disappointing."

It's truly amazing how a lot of anticipation can ruin something to such a staggering degree for such a large group of people. I guess some people don't know how to control their excitement, and when they see something they think they will potentially enjoy, they become attached to that thing. Far too attached. Enjoyment rests on anticipation and expectation; if you have built your hopes up so high for something that you believe it's going to be the "next best thing," the chance that it's going to not be a good experience for you balloons. If you put a massive group of people together (also knows as the "internet") and convince them that something is going to be amazing, the validity effect is going to kick in, and people are going to say it's amazing or terrible based on what everyone else has to say. Since a lot of people thrive on the approval of their peers, disagreeing with them on a hot topic is going to stir a bit of controversy. It's easier to just sit down and agree, and if you see enough of one opinion, you're eventually going to adopt that opinion because you'll decide you're in the wrong. When everyone says that Rogue One is going to be great months before it even comes out, it's very difficult to disagree, since you'll probably receive a massive backlash for it. Hype culture is a stubborn beast; once it's made up its mind, there's no turning back until the final product is released. At that point, they go from loving the product to hating it more than anything.

This mindset really ruins entertainment and the level of enjoyment people are "allowed" to have for it. I didn't mind Man of Steel. I didn't love it, but I didn't think it was bad, either. I had fun with it, and that's all the movie is intended to be. Before its release, however, there were so many people who salivated over the project because Christopher Nolan (who, if you don't know, directed The Dark Knight trilogy, as well as Inception) was producing it, and his writer of choice was at the helm of the script. People skyrocketed their expectations and thought it was going to be The Dark Knight for Superman. I don't think many people paid attention to the director before the movie was released, because the main complaint I hear about Man of Steel was that it was too violent. Director Zack Snyder had previously directed 300, Dawn of the Dead (2004), and Watchmen, three very violent movies. I don't see how anyone didn't expect this if they actually paid attention to the product, rather than indulge in the mindless hype with a good portion of the internet. When I try to have a discussion about how I didn't particularly mind Man of Steel, I am berated for having that opinion. "Doesn't it just wreck all of what Superman is supposed to be with its violence and fighting? I did not expect such an action-oriented movie, I wanted my Superman movie!" That's an actual quote, by the way. I told them to go watch Superman Returns because it's an action-less bore, and I asked them what "their" Superman was. They basically just wanted a remake of the original Superman from the 70's, and they had built their expectations upon that.

What people want out of a movie is subjective, and how they built their expectations out of a movie is very different. When there are so many people building up unbelievably high expectations that are so wildly different, however, that's when the internet gets it wrong. Hype culture builds up anticipation for a product so high that they are bound to ruin the final experience for themselves and everyone around them. There's nothing wrong with being excited for a new game or movie, and there's nothing wrong with hoping that it's going to be good. Just keep your expectations at "good" and there's probably no way you're going to be disappointed or upset. The more you raise your expectations, the more room you leave creative minds to subvert those expectations and disappoint you. Don't believe the hype; hype culture is a facet of our society that needs to fade away.

Oh, one more thing:
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