It seems that more often than ever, the release of anticipated films, television shows, books, and every other form of entertainment inspires rabid fans to lose their minds over the possibilities of just how good something is going to be. But while the idea of an upcoming movie being great should excite audiences, the enormous amounts of hype that build in anticipation of a release can often lead to severe disappointment. While overhyping is the byproduct of both entertainment companies and the attitudes of fans, it is ultimately up to audiences to set realistic expectations for themselves concerning the nearing release of something they may or may not love.
It’s no coincidence that this is being released prior to the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the ideas can be applied to anything on both an individual and widespread basis. Has there been a film that has caused as much rabid fan anticipation as this rebirth of the Star Wars franchise? The closest comparison is the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and the parallels are frighteningly similar. Nostalgia mixed with decades of anticipation and the future of a much-loved franchise creates a massive amount of hype that few pieces of media can match in terms of quality. But when the focus of that hype turns out to be objectively bad, the result is the backlash and vitriolic hate of legend.
But is anger and sadness over the quality of a piece of media really worth it? There are countless issues that are more in important in the world that deserve that degree of emotional investment. So instead, follow these six steps to keep yourself from becoming overhyped for whatever upcoming entertainment is slowly driving you out of your mind with anticipation. And if these don’t help, then a good dose of therapy during your resulting spiral of anger and regret can help, too.
1. Don’t Buy the Merchandise Before You Try the Product
The clearest indicator of buying into a hype machine wholeheartedly is to buy the merchandise of an upcoming piece of media before its release. An exception can be made for sequels that quickly follow previous entries, as these can be seen as part of the whole. However, still take caution in the belief that a strong film means an equally good follow-up. After all, what’s more disappointing than a sequel that drops the ball when following a fantastic original entry?
Surrounding yourself with memorabilia before you even see the media that they come from is just ludicrous. It’s called memorabilia for a reason. These are objects that are associated with something memorable. If you don’t even have the memories yet, why are you buying things to remind you of it? Sure, it could all work out great. You could come back home joyous from The Force Awakens to be greeted by your legion of First Order toys, ready to help you celebrate, or you could subject your $50 Captain Phasma toy to your bubbling rage because you hated the film into which you just sunk hundreds of dollars. The truth is, when it comes to merchandising, the quality of the film doesn’t matter. Hype is what matters, because that drives sales.
Don’t be a sucker. Support what you love when it’s proven it’s worthiness to you, instead of being a fool who just gave all of his or her money to something they disliked. It will only make you hate something that could have just been forgettable because you invested way too much.
2. Remember the Last Time You Were Let Down
Unless you are five years old, there is absolutely no way that a previous anticipated product has not caused serious disappointment for you in the past. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the anticipated sequel to a movie you loved or a videogame that has receive buckets of hype from game developers, everyone eventually has an experience where hopes did not reach reality at all. The first time it happens is bewildering. The second time is saddening. The subsequent times often result in pure frustration toward the entire experience.
While the pain of severe disappointment may have been avoidable, it is still very much real. Remember that pain and the reasons behind it. The motivation to avoid that unnecessary pain can help you think clearer when considering emotional investment into hype. Consider what let you down. Was it due to your own expectations, the failings of the artist, or some mix of both? What caused it to sting so sharply? Accepting the reality of failure and disappointment helps to make them a more natural and acceptable part of life instead of a colossal disruption. Even if the next object of your rabid expectation is a failure, the result won’t be personally disastrous.
3. Consider Artistic Merit Over Hype
The most overhyped films, video games, and other forms of media most often have their widespread anticipation based mostly on iconic characters, nostalgia, and hyperbolic hopes. Compare the anticipation surrounding something like the next Steven Spielberg film versus Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Spielberg is loved by audiences, but anticipation concerning his next film is more of a general positivity regarding his skills as a filmmaker. But massive hype about Crystal Skull resulted from the return of a beloved character after a long absence, not the quality of the filmmaking, which turned out to be sorely lacking.
Anticipation that is based on potential artistic quality often seems to be more tempered, as these feelings often have a more intellectual and philosophical basis. Conversely, hype is most often propelled by vague ideas and baseless emotional highs. It’s a powerful feeling in the moment, but it isn’t much more than that and it rarely lasts long once the experience has been had. But the power of great art that is absorbed on a deeper level lasts for years due to the truth of the experience.
4. Allow Realistic Positivity
While tempering expectations will most often help in the reception of an anticipated piece of pop culture, overwhelming negativity can be equally detrimental. Lower your expectations in a thoughtful manner. One that does not dwell on the potentially negative, but rather considers the upcoming experience in the larger scope of life and entertainment as a whole. It’s quite unlikely that the next anticipated piece of media will change your life, make you a better person, or fill that gaping hole in your soul, so don’t expect it to do so.
Remember that hope and hype are two very different things. Hope is the belief that something we trust in can actually happen. Hype is the desire to consume something we think we need. Hope for something special, but don’t become ravenous for the ephemeral and fleeting nature of entertainment. Also take into account that most people don’t set out to make a bad film and that good intentions can still lead to bad results, so be gracious rather than vitriolic when considering the works of others. Even overhyped films that somehow exceed expectations can often receive backlash years later when fans experience that comedown and turn their backs on a movie they once loved. It’s a balance that takes time to find, especially while still working to be passionate about your preferred forms of entertainment, but it is possible.
These tempered expectations will likely keep you from overindulging in the various behaviors that exhibit being overhyped or lead to the state of being overhyped, such as movie marathons, relentless social media posting about the subject, and vast amounts of money spent on the intellectual property.
5. Maintain a Zen-Like Composure
Remember that no matter how good or how bad a piece of media is, it’s only a movie, TV show, video game, etc. By having a preset notion of what a film will be prior to watching it, any deviations from your assumptions may strike you as wrong or disappointing. By not superimposing your own wants over a product that has been made completely apart from you, you can be more likely to accept changes that do not line up with your desired narrative. Narratives are designed to take us on an adventure, so don’t resist the flow while still maintaining independent thought.
On the flip side of the coin, being so assured that the piece of media that you are about to consume will be amazing can blind you to the true quality of the product. Plenty of fans rewatched films like The Phantom Menace or The Dark Knight Rises again and again in denial of the movie being lower quality or downright bad until they were finally forced to accept the truth. By having a level-headed disposition toward a film, audiences can thoughtfully interact with what they see as it unfolds on the screen. This allows for more cognitive consumption and critical thinking, while still being able to become excited during the process.
The result is an initial impression of the product that will remain far closer to your long-term feelings, rather than being far too excited and eventually becoming disillusioned, or holding a grudge against something that is much better than you first believe.
6. Pursue Your Own Creativity
The best art inspires thought and creativity in those who are impacted by it. Watching a great film or reading a wonderful book has inspired countless people to pursue their own creative passions, leading to generation after generation of artists bringing many wonderful pieces of media into existence. These take a positive experience and turn it into a productive lifestyle, which in turn heightens the importance of the art that inspired it.
On the other hand, artistic experiences that leave people bitter and jaded rarely inspire creativity. Anger and hatred almost never lead to anything positive, productive, or original. Should you be left hating the thing that you spent countless hours anticipating, your first impulse will not be to create something better, but rather to indulge your negative impulses with rantings and ravings. These in turn will only result in more negative feelings inside you and in others, perpetuating the cycle.
But we should not look to find fulfillment in the works of others when each and every one of us has something special to offer the world. That may mean creating a piece of art or it may mean pursuing passions that are far removed from the world of media. In any case, creativity and thoughtfulness can result in something that truly benefits you, your family, your work, and the world as a whole when you invest time and effort into it. Most likely, you will find far more fulfillment in creating something on your own than investing your life in the works of someone else. The result is a positive and creative cycle that can improve your life and the lives of the people around you.