#15 Hypeout

Let me first say that today my mind is not the smooth and streamlined hard boiled egg it usually is. Today, I’m more of a spanish omelette so bear with me. I’m bleeding queso and salsa all over the place so here goes…One annoying thing about life circa 2008 is there’s a little too much hype. With hundreds more media outlets and millions more electric outlets (not to mention wireless kid), there is so much more exposure than there was even ten years ago. For an example of this, just compare the careers of Michael Jordan in the 1980s and LeBron James in the 2000s. MJ declared pro in 1984 and despite hitting the game winning shot of the ’84 college championship game, he came into the pros a #3 pick with no real pressure. There were personal expectations but not too much national pressure and certainly no national hype. Somewhere between the 1980s and 1990s, the system changed. By the mid 1990s, the machine had taken over and sloppy clowns were being anointed before accomplishing anything. For me, the warning bells rang when Harold Miner was  dubbed “Baby Jordan” by the media. Yes, the Harold Miner whose career lasted 15 minutes. Hey, it was a good 15 Harold, more than most people ever do.


Now back to the lecture at hand, perfection is perfected, so i’m a land ’em, understand? Forget Miner and just compare MJ going pro to Lebron going pro. When Lebron declared in 2004, he had already had cameras on him since he was in 8th grade. His every game was documented and he was on the cover of magazines before he was 17 years old. While Jordan was given the freedom to develop into himself and become great at his own pace, LeBreezy was expected to be the nastiest before he even graduated high school. His debut game was the NBA season opener and the country watched to see if he was…worth the hype. (Today, most agree that although the hype was staggering, he did manage to surpass it.)


Because that’s what matters now. We don’t measure people by their own merit or even against their peers, we judge athletes, movies, music, and events based on the HYPE. It’s as if we say to ourselves “Ok this _____ has gotten so much ink, so many TV spots, this much word-of-mouth. I have heard about this ______ like fifty times. I have spent this many hours talking about it or hearing about it.


Is this ______ worth my time? ALL this time..getting me pumped up..raising my expectations to the point where I’m invested in this??

Then when the moment of truth comes, we become cruel when dissapointed. We love to hit the gong and say “flop” or “not worth the hype”.

The amount of hype is directly proportional to the inevitable backlash. Ask this girl. 


Today, everything is hyped so much that when something delivers and surpasses the hype…it’s like a revelation. One is transfixed when we realize “wow, I went in expecting the best..and I got it.” It’s a tall order but once in a while, you get lucky…With more dollars and eyeballs on every event, nowadays very little in life is left to chance and nothing is afforded the neccecary time it takes to surprise us. We construct and deconstruct each step and angle of ______. In a sense, we make it as hard as possible for ourselves to be entertained. It is commonplace to build things up on a heroic scale just to make them sound worthwhile. ( EXHIBIT A – the promo below) Take the 2008 Wimbledon Men’s Final. It was billed as the biggest tennis match ever. It featured the top two players in the world, a fierce rivalry and was a contrast in styles and personalities. This match was hyped up no end despite the last contest between Nadal and Federer being a one-sided yawner. (Nadal in the French Final) Against the odds, it did turn out to be one of the greatest matches of all time. It may sound brash to call something the greatest, but when it happens, it’s very satisfying and especially so to those who come with great expectations. The Federer-Nadal match could not have been better. When the best performances are delivered on the biggest stages, to an audience on the edge of their seats…that’s where you want to be. 


Now imagine the exact same match was played by two journeymen. Two men you never heard of. Would the match have been as great with players not as great? Eventhough they played the exact match shot for shot? No, it would lose something. Because we know Nadal. We know Fed. We know about Nadal Vs Fed. We have a vested interest because of all the hyperbole. Therefore I reach the conclusion that when a star or a project comes with expectations and delivers, it offers a satisfaction that an unknown entity can not. The unknown can satisfy through sheer surprise but that will never be as deep a satisfaction as that of expectations being surpassed.

When there is a lot of hype, and the hype is surpassed, we now reach EPIC status.

 In the past month, there have been several examples of senseless overhyping, that should have lead to disapointment, but somehow didn’t. Firstly, the NBA Finals matchup of Lakers-Celtics was hyped up no end because of the Bird-Magic history and somehow the series lived up to it’s roots (a small miracle). Not long after, The Wimbledon men’s final turned into a historic evening. After several hundred ridiculous superlatives promoting the match, the TV networks lucked out and somehow the match was actually as good as promised. And they promised a lot.

Finally, The Dark Knight turned out to be the most satisfying big budget blockbuster ever. If you don’t believe me, listen to these guys. The thing about summer event pictures like this is that people often walk into the theatre saying to themselves “This movie cannot be as good as the hype says..” because it’s often not..However, The Dark Knight was that good.

It features some great acting (I personally really enjoyed Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart) and phenomenal writing and directing by Christopher Nolan. Throw in a kickass score by everyone’s favorite German, Hans Zimmer. For a lifelong Batman fan, having watched the old Burton movies in theatres and the animated series on tv, the old Adam West TV show and then sitting through the Joel Schumacher debacles to now reach this, it’s a major arrival. This movie attempts more than any other Batman film in the sense that it’s serious and darker akin to the comics which are really badass. Kevin Smith called it “The Godfather 2 of comic book movies”. I went into the theatre expecting nothing short of a masterpiece. To actually be completely satisfied was very gratifying. I’m not sure that is even a proper review but hey this is a spanish omelette. All I’m saying is that hype has dissapointed all of us at some point. However, there are rare occasions when hype unites us all in hoping for something together and when it comes, it’s sort of euphoric…







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