The unavoidable hype train

I may be in the minority here (and a very small minority at that), but I prefer to go into just about everything knowing as little as possible. Games. Movies. The rare TV show I actually watch. Once I know I’m interested in whatever it may be, I do my best to go on a full media blackout. That’s especially hard with franchises that have earned their hype to the point that it starts months (or even years) in advance.

Case in point: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 poster
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Walt Disney Pictures

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the direct sequel to my favorite movie of 2014, has been everywhere over the past couple weeks. Living in Los Angeles, it’s impossible to go anywhere without seeing a billboard with Star-Lord or Rocket and Groot. I’m sure there are others outside my normal routes, too. Those are manageable. I mean, they definitely get me more excited for a movie I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited about, but they’re still just (very large) promo photos. That’s fine, even if the original promo poster was already more than enough for me.

What’s tougher to deal with, though, is the onslaught of tweets about every aspect of the movie. Reactions from Monday’s press screening. Reactions from last night’s premiere. Excitement about the soundtrack’s songs marks the latest in the string of new things to avoid—and I’m doing my best to not even know what’s on the soundtrack when I see the movie. Most of these tweets and reactions have been spoiler free, but that hasn’t always been the case. Multiple mentions of the movie’s post-credit scene(s) and unending love for Baby Groot have already told me more than I wanted to know going into this movie. I’ll be fine if I’m not able to avoid the soundtrack for the next two weeks (how is it still two weeks away? ugh), but I’d love to be able to see what I’m already anticipating to be one of my favorite movies of the year as clean as possible.

Yes, I know this could easily be solved by muting certain accounts I follow—say, writer/director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt—but even that wouldn’t totally solve the problem. This movie is going to be huge, so excitement about it can understandably be found everywhere.

I just wish it were a little easier to avoid (or at least turn down) for people who don’t want to risk knowing anything.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

We’re a little under eight months away from Episode VIII. Also known as two-thirds of a year. But the hype train for The Last Jedi has been going at full speed for a while now, starting even before The Force Awakens was released.

Full disclosure: I was already going to see The Last Jedi because seeing Star Wars movies is a given. I was already going to see Rian Johnson’s next movie regardless of what it was because he’s an excellent filmmaker and Looper guaranteed I’d be following wherever he chose to go. Combining those two was already more than enough hype for me.

I wasn’t at last week’s Star Wars Celebration, but it felt like it with the barrage of articles and tweets about anything and everything coming out of the event in Orlando. A lot of it consisted of tributes to the late Carrie Fisher, but there was plenty of talk about the movie in general. That includes the deluge of content from individuals and sites about a certain teaser trailer that I didn’t even try to avoid watching—because, come on, what’s the point?

 

Yes, it’s awesome. And yes, it got me more excited about The Last Jedi. But I didn’t need to be more excited about The Last Jedi. I (like countless others) will be seeing it as soon as possible, crowded theaters be damned. This teaser changed nothing. Other than the fact that I’m not going in totally blind, of course. But let’s be real here: there was no chance of that happening with any popular movie, let alone what will easily become one of the biggest movies of all time.

What’s the point?

Hype is unavoidable. Today’s screen-centric culture has made sure of that. Regardless of the size of the screen you have in front of you and the content you’re consuming on that screen, chances are you’ll find information about (or at least advertisements for) releases as big as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Which brings us to the problem:

Every new piece about these things, whether official trailers and screenshots or retweets of essentially random people, builds excitement and anticipation. In almost every case, there’s going to be a tipping point where even the best can’t live up to that hype. It wouldn’t be the first time hype around something dampened my enjoyment of the final product if it were to happen with Guardians or The Last Jedi, but it would be pretty devastating in both of these cases.

Don’t worry. I know how badly these problems are not actually problems. Am I honestly going to enjoy a movie any less because I know what songs are featured in it? Probably not. Is watching trailers and clips and talk show appearances going to make me any less likely to love a movie when I finally get to see it? Probably not.

For now, that’s just not how I want to do things. Hype is everywhere, though, and I may not have a choice for much longer—turning off the internet for weeks or months just isn’t an option. How do you handle unavoidable hype? And exactly how excited are you for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and/or Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Let me know in the comments.

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