Let’s talk about the Overhype Hype. The Overhype Hype is one of those stupid geeks complaints that drive me up the wall. It goes like this, “I didn’t watch the show or see the movie because so many people “overhyped” it that I couldn’t watch it without hearing all the overhype in my head and therefore can’t enjoy said show or movie.” What a bunch of pretentious bullshit. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in seeing a movie with the first crowd because their energy helps drive the movie while watching it. I enjoy seeing things news and fresh as much as anyone else. But good is good. If the movie or TV show or even straight to digital is good, how the hell can something like a lot of people raving about it ruin it?
There are three ways any type of fandom get’s to have a very long pop culture shelf-life. It’s either overhyped, becomes a thing or gains a cult following. Overhyped is when a metric ton of people outside the usual fans go on and on about it. An example of this would be Jaws, the movie that created the summer blockbuster. However, the best example would be Star Wars. If you were a child or not born year you cannot imagine how big Star Wars got the moment it hit theaters. I was in high school and watched it happen. One minute it was a trailer, the next people could not stop talking about it. The overhype of Star Wars literally created the merchandising market.
A “Thing” is not always something that’s overhyped and mostly has a specific set of fans but gets into the pop culture consciousness. A thing lasts long mostly because of familiarity. People outside its fanbase are aware of it but not necessarily fans of it. For instance, Transformers was always a thing but never overhyped. You were aware Transformers existed because it was always on since it started. Not to mention Transformers had a lot of cheesy Christmas toy commercials. Transformers the Movie got a little hyped but settle into cult status. So a movie, book, TV show or comic becomes a thing but it’s only hyped within the fanbase.
Cult is not “a thing.” The difference is that a thing isn’t completely nuts. I mean that in a good way. There were cult films before it – Citizen Kane is a cult film that eventually got overhyped – but the mother of the cult movie craze is the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cult things have a very specific audience that seems to replenish itself as if they have the replacement waiting in cryo-sleep until one of them dies. Cults are slavishly loyal to everything about the cult thing. The overhyped can become the cult, but never the other way around. Cult is usually gonzo or cheaply made and never intended to become the cult.
Why The Overhype Hype is Stupid
There’s really one kind of person that’s going to disagree with me on this – a geek. It can be a movie, book, comic or TV geek, but this nonsense argument is usually posited by one kind of geek or another. In order to drive the point of how absurd the notion of the overhype hype is you have to speak in a language they understand. Let’s apply this dumb ass argument to the absolute classics.
“I did not see Citizen Kane because it’s so overhyped I can’t watch it without hearing everyone talk about how great it is.”
“I did not see Godfather because it was so overhyped all I can think of was all the people saying it’s great and the would take me out the movie.”
“I did not watch Star Wars because how could I enjoy it with the whole world overhyping it?”
“I refused to go see Terminator because so many people overhyped it I was afraid I’d never have been able to enjoy it the same way.”
Here’s how these movies relate. First of all, they were and are overhyped. Citizen Kane after the fact, but the Godfather, Star Wars and Terminator were so popular everyone everywhere was going on and on about how awesome they were. You couldn’t turn on the news, watch a comedy show or even go to school without people constantly going on and on about how great these movies were while they were in theaters. The same thing happened with Die Hard, Scarface, Goodfellas, Fight Club, Blade and The Matrix. Before the dawn of the internet and the down of social media these movies got the same attention as a local radio’s song list – the hype was repeated over and over and over again. How the fuck does this stop any of these movies from being the instant classic they became? How? Here’s the real question; whose fault is it that you can’t enjoy it? Secondly, they deserved their hype, they were all excellent movies. Third, no one ever uses the overhype hype against these. It’s all the overhype hype until you get to the so-called classics.
Overhype Hype and Social Media
The social media thing is not centrally a geek complaint, it’s the complaint of people too stupid to see the obvious. That pretty much covers everyone who sees social media as an ominous system that will cause the world to become basement dwelling shut-ins. I’ve heard Bill Maher complain about how we used to give and now were share as if it’s the worse things on Earth. Social Media has replaced Satan in getting the blame for every stupid bullshit that happens. Rapist did not exist before social media, bullying didn’t exist before social media, racism, and sexism didn’t exist before social media. All this nonsense about fake news and Russian hackers and no one is stopping for two seconds and thinking about what exactly is being said.
People who complain about overhype will inevitably get to social media. Like the spoiler argument, it’s one of those things that makes me want to roll up a newspaper and smack everyone on the head who says it. Social media is not creating the zombie apocalypse. It’s a choice. As much as I believe there needs to be strict and enforced laws on online bullying, I also believe in the block button. I don’t happen to think spoilers are that big of a deal, but if you know the places where spoiler are given, then stay off of them. You have to ask yourself exactly how much time are you on these if the first thing you see on Twitter is a spoiler. I’ve got over 4,000 followers on Twitter, the first thing I usually see is an ad for some dumb Amazon product. I know something is being hyped because of the hashtag list, and I don’t get information on that thing unless I click the hashtag. The overhype is how I found things like Burn Notice, Stranger Things, House of Cards and Breaking Bad. Overhype is how I found the awesome Equilibrium, the movie that made me change my mind about Christian Bale playing Batman. Overhype hype will have you convinced that people’s enjoyment of a thing is destroyed because other people liked it. You don’t have to go on Twitter or Facebook or even Pinterest. And if you find a user who spoils shit, just block their ass. How hard is this?
The Fault in Ourselves
That’s right, you’re the damn problem in this. This is a nonsense complaint, something geeks say to be clever about usually taking the contrary stance on something. It’s a childish “Oh, it wasn’t that good” argument that does not hold up. If they simply said, “this wasn’t for me” or even “I don’t get why people liked this” I’d consider that a fair argument. That’s the difference of opinion. But to say “My enjoyment is based upon how other people enjoyed it” that’s just sad. It doesn’t make you real or clever to say you delayed watching something awesome because too many people thought it was awesome. It makes you pathetic. It says you’re thoughts, feelings and opinions are affected by someone else. It’s exactly like not liking something specifically because other people liked it. More importantly, it’s the argument of a teenager, and if you’re over 25 but still have the worldview of a teenager, you have some serious issues.
Why Overhype is AWESOME!
While geeks of any age feel the need to constantly put on their “you kids get off my lawn” sweatpants, they tend to forget the things they complain about are the things that got us to where we are today. And where we geeks are today is awesome beyond words. Overhype is why we have conventions celebrating our thing that are not huge events everyone has to go to. Overhype is why every A-List star wants to put on spandex and shoot laser beams from their hands on screen. Overhype is why we have a thriving cosplay, nostalgia and independent industry where we can not only love our geeking but make a living from loving our geeking things. Overhype is why the barriers of distance, language, and culture are all being shattered because of the same technology we complain will make us all shut-ins. Pretty much every single thing we hold dear as geeks, no matter what it is, got to be in the place they are in because of the initial overhype. That’s why the overhype hype is stupid and childish and just plain bullshit that needs to stop yesterday. So the next time you decide you don’t want to read or watch something because it too considers exactly what you’re saying, get out of mom’s basement and put on your damn big-boy pants and go watch the fucking thing. Learn to judge it for yourself instead of by other people’s reactions.