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!