Opinion: The Danger of Hype

I have a problem.

It’s a problem that many bookworms, movie buffs, and gaming enthusiasts around the world share with me – a type of problem that’s easy to fall into, but desperately difficult to break free of. I am, of course, talking about over-hyping, or as it’s more commonly referred to as on the internet, the hype train or hype cycle.

It’s easy to board the hype train. The ticket is free, and the first station is always a new teaser trailer, a title drop, even just a suggestive tweet from an ex-producer, or a new listing on someone’s LinkedIn profile. From there, the potential excitement starts building, and as more information comes out — eventually leading to an official announcement — it’s easy to be swept up in the sense of something larger. Like a crowded concert, we all become energized with this notion of unity, of shared anticipation – hashtags start flying everywhere, fan theories abound, and heated arguments break out over exactly which actor will portray the main character best.

Books are especially notorious for generating hype trains – after all, books are some of the most personal experiences we can have in the creative world, a medium through which we form bonds with characters, explore new worlds, ride in adrenaline-pumping action sequences, or fall in love with a romance.

Oftentimes there is a considerable gap between novels in a series, and during that time, the hype train starts going at full speed. It’s understandable – many books end on cliffhangers, and after you’ve consumed 300 pages in a single weekend, we can’t help but want the next installment. I’ve written before about binge reading, but waiting is the complete opposite – our excitement builds and in our minds, this next book (or movie, or game, whatever it may be) suddenly eclipses the original and becomes even better again.

At the time of writing, I am reading the ARC of Glass Sword, sequel to Red Queen, a book I absolutely loved – and yet with Glass Sword, I fear I’ve fallen victim to a hype train of my own making. I can’t help but be disappointed because the image I had in my mind does not align with what I’m reading – through no fault of the author, of course.

That’s what’s important to remember about hyping.

The amount of effort that goes into producing a new creative work only increases with each new addition, and the amount of pressure on the creator grows. Just as the audience hypes themselves up, the creators have to meet this new demand head-on, and they can’t satisfy everyone all at once. Hype not only has the potential to ruin the experience for the community, but makes the creator’s job tougher as well.

Of course, hype isn’t all bad – when used positively, it can form an amazing community spirit, bonding people from around the world over their shared love. By continually supporting our favorite authors, actors, producers, and developers, we can help ensure that our beloved series – and new works too – will grow and reach new fans, who will experience it all for the first time.

Hype isn’t something to fear, or to shun; it’s a natural part of this world we live in – a world of combined marketing and community, where participating in the lead-up to something is as important as experiencing the final product.

Approach the rumors and pre-release teasers with caution – be excited, participate in the collective anticipation of the fandom; but appreciate that every new entry to a series, every new beginning for a franchise, is its own piece of work and should be considered with an open mind. You might find that you’ll enjoy the experience more by keeping a little of the mystery, well, just that!

What do you think about hype? Do you actively try to avoid hyping, or are you leading the fandom charge? Leave a comment below and feel free to discuss – I want to hear all sides of the argument, both positive and negative!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Hype can totally be a double-edged blade for a reader. For the author it’s good either which way, but yep, we’ve all fallen for the hype. Sometimes hyped books just aren’t as good as we could have hoped. Sometimes they can be, but most of the time they’re a letdown. BUT, in saying that, I looooove hype. Even if I don’t even enjoy the book, and the build-up is more exciting than the book itself, I still think it’s a good thing. They get me EXCITED to read, and I think that’s a really great thing. Hype also brings non-readers into reading, too, which I think is fantastic.

    Great discussion, Brett 🙂

    Like

    1. I know – I do have a love-hate relationship with hype myself; I like hyping myself up, and then hate the disappointment if it isn’t as good as I’d hoped. I agree about non-readers coming to reading though – especially with massively hyped movies that then get people to read the original books!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

  2. Maddie says:

    Great blog post! Completely agree! Hype can be both good and bad. Sometimes, the original feel of hype can be like adrenaline, making your heart beat faster and faster at just the exciting thought of something about to happen. But it can also be disappointing when it doesn’t go the way you had hoped/thought it would.

    There’s also another type of hype, the most annoying one – the “she/he’s the chosen one” hype that movies name MC’s of YA novels, like they’re Harry Potter or something. *grumpy face*

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    1. Hey there! It’s a very apt description of hype – you can feel yourself getting more excited as you build up to the new novel/movie/etc; and then a massive let down at times – not because it’s a bad movie/book, but because you built up so much in your own mind (I think Mockingjay Part 2 was that, for me).

      And I agree – the ‘chosen one’ trope is well and truly worn. Sounds like a blog post for another time, perhaps!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  3. Jay Eldred says:

    I generally avoid hype simply because I want to be able to form my own opinion.

    This piece reminded me of Go Set a Watchman and the relative fallout after its release. Well, at least there was fallout where I live; not sure how it fared in the rest of the world.

    Like

    1. I think Go Set a Watchman had everything going against it with the hype – a novel discovered in an attic, lost for decades, it all sounded like a Hollywood plot. And with To Catch a Mockingbird being so ingrained in the literary world’s consciousness as a classic (to the point where it’s studied at many schools), the sequel could never hope to beat it.

      Thanks so much for reading my article!

      Like

  4. Blaise Haddow says:

    Your description of hype here is something I personally find hard to be involved in. I find I’m not as excited about a book being released if I haven’t read it, so the hype about books doesn’t tend to sweep me away as much as it annoys me to see 40 ARC reviews of the same book.

    I’m much more likely to be excited about a new release by an author I absolutely adore–meaning, I’ve read several of their books and loved them (which shows me they are consistently good).

    For the author, hype is good because sales and bad because pressure, but I have to wonder whether effort really does increase with every single project. My experience, and what I’ve seen around, tends to disagree (most commonly, the effort is variable as different projects are just easier or harder than others). Why do you say the effort increases with every project?

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    1. I think everyone responds to hype differently – if it doesn’t affect you, that’s excellent, because it means everything is a new, fresh experience for you! And of course I totally understand about new books from authors you love – there’s an expectation there.

      That expectation is what I was talking about for making an author’s job tougher. The process of writing does get easier, because you’re more familiar with writing, editing, etc; but the pressure and expectation grows – I already feel it for my novels, and I’ve only published one book. Authors not only have to produce a quality novel that their fans will enjoy, but they need to make sure it’s as good, or slightly better, than their previous works.

      Fans expect that authors get better, and with every passing novel, the expectation and hype surrounding new entries grows. This type of pressure is keenly felt by all creatives – it’s often mentioned in interviews by writers and authors – because you don’t want to let fans down. It’s not a difficulty of process, but a difficulty of expectation.

      There is of course, a difference for everybody – my comments might not apply to all authors/creatives!

      Like

      1. Blaise Haddow says:

        Thanks so much for explaining! I think I misinterpreted it originally. I would definitely agree with the pressure–I think it contributes (in part) to making it more difficult for authors to break out of genres (also because publishers expect that readers will hold these expectations).

        Like

      2. No worries! The point of articles like these is to stimulate conversation and thought about a topic! Thanks so much for reading!

        Like

  5. Katie Masters says:

    Personally I don’t mind hype….in moderation. I love being part of something, of hash tagging, of finding people who are excited about something as I am. But when something gets OVER hyped…..yeah. There’s a reason I don’t read certain books until like….two years later, or see movies a month after its released. I hate being disappointed for things I care about.

    When it comes to books I’ve been lucky that when a sequal comes out it’s 9/10 times PERFECT to the previous book. My inner hype is one thing: having OTHER people over hyped about something is one thing I just find very hard to get into: especially before said movie (specifically) is even released.

    Like

    1. I like taking part in community excitement too – but you’re right, sometimes you need to take a break, remove yourself from the hype, and approach it later with a fresh perspective.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

  6. Sunny Smith says:

    AMEN! Being a part of the book blogger world makes it so hard to avoid the over-hyping. There’s been too many books that I’ve picked up because every blogger is raving about it, and then I find it’s just ok, because my expectations were built up so high. However, I do feel like I’m somewhat responsible for allowing myself to get caught up in the hype,so I can’t say I’m a TOTAL victim (even if I like to claim that I am:P).

    It’s fun to fangirl (or boy) about a book, but it’s also good to acknowledge that nothing is perfect and appeals to everybody. Great post!

    Like

    1. Hahaha I’m partly to blame myself, don’t worry! It’s easy to become part of the hype cycle just because it’s so much fun! But I definitely agree with you!!

      Thanks so much for reading, I’m glad you liked my post!

      Like

  7. Heather says:

    I hype things, but I’m not much into hyped books… Like, I will be the first to be like “THIS BOOK HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF MY WEEK” and it probably will have been because I read books like that and I read books differently than other people. But it actually takes a lot for me to read and acknowledge other people’s reviews because 9/10 times we probably don’t even like the same stuff anyway.

    So… Yeah. I like hyping but I feel like it is the responsibility of people themselves not to succumb to it.

    Like

    1. I love your logic – everyone needs to make their own decisions, and be responsible for their own reaction to stuff. Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  8. leathehatless says:

    Great topic! I agree with your point of view but I prefer to stay away from hype, I go burned before because of it. :/

    Like

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