Last week I posted a rant
on how I will never watch a show you all seem to like so much. In the days following its publication, three things I didn't expect happened:
1. People commented on it saying how it's not wrong of me to avoid a show based on its popularity
2. More positive comments were posted than negative comments, with many of them admitting to hype aversion as well
3. It was promoted to the front page
To be honest, I wrote the article with the intent of getting you all to see just how wrong I am with holding out on Gurren Lagann
. A lot of you tried to get me to change my mind citing things like good characterization and how stupid my reasons are for not watching it. As much as I like to think that Japanator's readership is not mostly comprised of apologists, you could all be absolutely right. Another comment came after the original post fell off the front page: "This article could of [sic] been interesting or serious if it was just on the topic of the over hyping of shows in general". Indeed, while I was writing the article, it was turning out to be just that. The first half of it was a weak justification in favor of hype aversion, but I made the second half Gurren Lagann
-related to keep it in theme. In case you couldn't tell from the first part, this is something I've wanted to write about for a long time. Now that my most successful post to date has run its course, it's time for me to qualify my views more generally.NO FURTHER MENTION OF GURREN LAGANN PERMITTED BEYOND THIS POINT
The way I see it, most hyped up shows, movies, games, etc. deserve the fandom they enjoy. As they say, they wouldn't have such a huge fanbase unless it does something that attracts a lot of attention. Even with things I hate on principle like pop music, I have to remember that I'm in the minority with narrow taste. In appreciation of the experience, the fans of a show tell others about it. They want to enlighten their peers, expand their social network, maybe even just contribute to the funding of a sequel. Most of all, they want to thank the creators of their favorite work. They do so directly by buying merchandise and indirectly by spreading the word. Sadly, as with so many things, good intentions are marred by extremist actions, which is why I use extreme caution with anything that gains a lot of praise.
A common theme in the responses to my last article is that a show with a lot of positive reviews is scrutinized more intensely than a show with relatively little following. Go into it with an open mind, they say. Unfortunately, that isn't possible when anyone sings its praises. The impulse to judge a show prematurely is just too strong. It's in our nature. Even the most open-minded people who watch a show they've put off for too long admit something along the lines of "Well, at first I didn't..." in their reviews. Whether they didn't think it would be that great, didn't want to sit down for two hours, or didn't think it would suck so badly, for whatever reason some preconceived notion follows them when they sit down and just watch. The hype aversion had them down at first, but they learned to defeat it and tried their hardest to put away their prejudices.
For others, it's become a syndrome they rationalize.Hype aversion as a safeguard
If I hear of a show and don't watch it immediately, either I don't feel like getting up to watch it or it doesn't interest me. When a sufficiently large hype train for a show visits my doorstep, one of three things happens based on my initial thoughts to it:No opinion
: I look a little into it.Laziness
: I get around to watching it.Indifference
: My blood pressure increases.
That's not to say that I always turn the other way when I hear of the best movie ever that I need to watch post-haste. As always, there are exceptions, but as I wrote in my previous post, they came to be when a trusted source gave me their recommendation. At the risk of making this essay egocentric, let me explain. I was one of the people who wrote off Avatar: The Last Airbender
as a wannabe anime until I caught a marathon of the second season. Until my brother showed me the light with his season 1 DVDs of Burn Notice
, I didn't care for it at all. My mother and father similarly succeeded in getting me to watch House, M.D.
respectively after I decided they weren't worth my time. Disgaea
and Ace Attorney
would have never entered my household without the exposure they got on the internet. I am one of the millions eagerly anticipating the sequel to Iron Man
this May. I even watched all three Lord of the Rings
movies after my mother had me go with her to see the first. And without some pestering on a forum I no longer visit, I wouldn't have bothered with Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
. And yes, I recommend all of these to you.
When I'm indifferent to something, that means that I don't want to watch it. The reasons for this vary: I think the genre is boring, I like shows by another author more, maybe even just that I would rather be playing Team Fortress 2
. Unsurprisingly, rabid fans have a problem with people who don't care for their show, perhaps more so than people who just saw it and didn't like it. Did you notice that of all the examples above, only one was an anime (and an only semi-popular one at that)? Why do you suppose this is? You might think that I'm drawing a connection between the nature of a given medium and the fanbase that it attracts. Take a look at the trendy clothing stores like Hot Topic. If you've ever seen one, odds are that you saw a lot of anime-related products in the displays. Does any other medium, animated or otherwise, have products like messenger bags attached to them? Have you ever seen buttons for Monty Python or Star Wars
sold or worn in the same quantity as any anime you care to name?
Before I go on, I'd like to clarify that I'm not attacking people who like that kind of thing. I think they're goofy-looking, but I'm pretty weird myself. I'm sure a lot of you can say the same of yourself. If you can't, you need to loosen up. That said, when you draw attention to yourself by having too many of those things in full display, you're just asking for trouble. You may be proud of them (and you have every right to be), but the fact is a lot of people don't want to hear about it. Do you really think that wearing 75 buttons of Bleach
characters on your laptop bag is going to convince anyone of anything other than that you enjoy Bleach
too much? Think about the way you want others to view your preferences.
Now, I'm self-conscious enough that I would never allow myself to become like that if I decided I like something so popular. Sadly, the likes of teenagers who can be identified as Inuyasha
fans a mile away send a sobering message: If you learn about what I like, you can be just like me.
Whether obvious fans intend to or not, it's what's in my mind when I see a couple wearing faded anime shirts. They can't learn to respect their show enough to control themselves, which is sad because a lot of authors really don't deserve that kind of stigma. Except Stephenie Meyer, of course.Hype aversion as a timesaver
I touched on this on my last post, but sometimes you just can't help but hold in an amazing thing you saw. It happens all the time -- people watch some really exciting movie and accidentally explain the explosive climax in tedious detail to their friends who were on the fence about watching it themselves. I'm guilty of this myself, even now. However, back when I was still learning about the ways of the world, I never expected I would grow up and have any regrets about things I've done in the past in lieu of much more productive things.
There was a time when I would watch anything without people needing to tell me that I would like it. Tastes change. I'm at the stage in my life where I don't jump into anything without considering the possible costs and risks. I watched the first season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
, played all of Mother 3
, watched the first episodes of Code Geass
and Arrested Development
and even tried to get into Halo
. While I have nice things to say of all of them, in the end the hype didn't justify my time with them. I've since discovered the pattern that has been repeated several times in this post. Actually, it's more like a dice roll as to whether I'll enjoy the proclaimed greatest show evar rather than a predictable pattern. A look at my list of exceptions above might suggest that there are more exceptions than examples, but most of them came at a time when I felt open to suggestion. I'm 20 years old. I have things to do. I'm in college now and at time of writing I have two important assignments due in 10 hours, yet I still found the time to write this post. Maybe you're the same as me, except you watch more television. I envy you. I actually have enough free time to watch one of the series I'm still not watching for one reason or another, but I still can't find the energy to do so. Does it reflect poorly on me that I would rather spend twice the energy justifying my bad habits than watch something repeatedly shoved down my throat and give a fair review only once? Most likely. But this is only one of my many flaws and it's the only one that saves me a lot of time.Hype aversion as protest
This is a result of my upbringing, but I can't help but cringe whenever I hear anyone refer to a fictional character they saw on TV as God. I believe that only Jesus Christ died on the cross to free mankind from Satan's grip and that there is only one true God, I AM, but that's just me. When fans of a show go too far, they start to pervade every aspect of society with it. They begin to raise characters on impossibly high pedestals, sneak trivial references into important political, religious, and academic circles, name their possessions or even their children after them, and claim that their favorite character can beat up my favorite character. And they expect everyone, not just other fans, to agree. These people aren't just nerds, they're turbonerds
. Seriously, no show is that important. Overexposure is what caused Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
to leave a bad taste in peoples' mouths. This lasts only until the next big thing pops up, at which point the cycle starts anew with the added caveat of warfare between fans of old and new. Their priorities are skewed to the point where people with work to get done don't want anything to do with them. By extension, their favorite show garners undue hatred as well. Even a lot of atheists are the way they are based on their perceptions of religious people. Ghandi was quoted as saying "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." I like to say "If they have it in them to bicker among themselves over whether the n
th Doctor could beat up Gordon Freeman, why don't they redirect their energy to bettering society?" Admittedly, this is the most fatuous point of all, but it's still a factor. After all, if you can't beat them, get as far away from them as you possibly can. Or just troll them. But don't join them because then this whole essay becomes moot.
Whose fault is it that the best shows gets the worst ambassadors? Authors generally don't start writing their next work expecting to build a fanbase to rival that of Star Wars
, they just want to tell a story (and/or make some money). The fans don't view themselves as annoying, and those that do have the same problem I do: they wear their malady like a badge of honor. I like to think that they're just naive. They want their favorite show to be declared the best of all time, but in doing so they're furthering the stereotype that it's just the opposite. And hype-averse people like me have wised up and fled, bitter that they can't do anything about it. What a crazy world we live in.
I conclude this post with the most poignant news report I've ever seen. It illustrates in three minutes what took me an entire blog post to articulate. I could have just posted this video and ran, but I felt creative this morning. Enjoy.