Can Hype Kill a Good Film?
February 24, 2015
(The shortened opening)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Are you sick of Frozen yet?
(A clip from Frozen is shown)
NC (vo): Well, there's a lot of people, mostly kids, who clearly aren't.
(Cut to a montage of images of Frozen merchandise)
NC (vo): Around every corner, you see another product of merchandise, another screen showing it, another playing of the soundtrack, it's all over the place. If you play "Let It Go" in a room full of kids, chances are every single one of them would start singing along.
NC: Not surprisingly, this is driving many of us INSANE! In fact...
(Cut to footage of the NC's "Let It Go" music video)
NC (vo): ...I even did a musical version, talking about how it's all over the place. That's almost a year old now, and it still hasn't gone away!
NC: This has resulted in what usually follows something that's insanely popular: the backlash.
(More footage of Frozen is shown)
NC (vo): Suddenly, a lot of people are coming out saying the film is overpraised, too hyped up, and not even very good. The film has gone from one of the most beloved hits of the past decade to one of the most annoying by several viewers.
NC: While clearly so overexposed, we want to bash our brains in with a decapitated ice sculpture of...
(Cut to an image of an ice sculpture of a character from the movie...)
NC (vo): ...Olaf...
NC: ...is the film itself really deserving of such hate?
NC (vo): It still seems like a good movie. Not perfect, but few if any films are. So why all the hatred towards the film as opposed to the overexposure of it? I mean, everybody left and right used to praise this, and now, it seems to be working towards the other direction. And this isn't like...
(Cut to a shot of the poster for Romeo + Juliet)
NC (vo): ...Shakespeare...
(Cut to a montage of posters for various Batman movies, including The Batman: The Doom of the Rising Sun, Batman: The Movie (1966), Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight)
NC (vo): ...or comic book movies where they're so popular, we get to see different takes and interpretations.
(Cut back to Frozen)
NC (vo): We're talking about watching the exact same thing, line for line, over and over, with no change whatsoever. On the one hand, you can always pick up elements about a movie you never noticed the more times you watch it.
(Cut to the opening of a What You Never Knew video)
NC (vo): Hell, I do a whole series about that now.
(Cut back once again to Frozen)
NC (vo): But when something is everywhere you turn, and I mean everywhere, you start to tell yourself enough is enough.
(Cut to the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy)
NC (vo): I love Guardians of the Galaxy...
(Cut to a montage of GOTG merchandise)
NC (vo): ...but if I was forced to see it front and center in every store, every single place I turned, chances are most of us would have the same tired reaction.
(Cut again to the GOTG poster)
NC (vo): That doesn't mean it would be any less a good film, we would just be sick of it being shoved in our faces all the time.
NC: Is it possible that overexposure as well as hype can destroy what was originally a good product?
(Cut to footage of My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
NC (vo): This isn't the first time we've seen something like this before. Big Fat Greek Wedding was a surprise hit with audiences and critics alike, but once it started getting talked about a little too much, a backlash started to form there as well.
(Cut to footage of A Christmas Story)
NC (vo): The same thing happened to A Christmas Story. It used to be beloved by almost everyone who saw it, but now...
(Cut to various images of various Christmas Story-themed merchandise)
NC (vo): ...with countless merchandise and even a 24-hour marathon, many have just plain grown sick of it.
(Cut back to more footage of the movie itself)
NC (vo): Part of that may have to do that the original charm of the product came from the fact that very few knew about it. Christmas Story used to be something of an underground secret, that kind of naughty Christmas movie where kids would swear and punch each other, but still return to a loving small-town nature that felt warm and genuine.
(Now it starts, more frequently, to alternate between images of Christmas Story-themed merchandise and movie clips as the NC continues)
NC (vo): With the oversaturation of it, though, that secret little film is now a multi-million-dollar enterprise. And when something becomes more and more commercialized, it feels less and less personal. The toys and lamps went from sort of a secret handshake among selected viewers to repulsive kitsch that most people are just sick to death of. Yet, the film itself hasn't changed; it's exactly the same, yet our feelings towards it start to alter a little bit when we start to see it everywhere. Sometimes, people can feel a stronger connection to something if fewer know about it.
NC: I'll admit, it was a little weird seeing The Lord of the Rings...
(Cut to a shot of the first LOTR movie, The Fellowship of the Ring)
NC (vo): ...on the big screen. Yeah, they were great movies that changed a lot of cinema forever.
(Cut to footage of the LOTR movies)
NC (vo): But before that, it was something that made you feel a bit more unique for knowing about it.
(Cut to shots of the original LOTR books)
NC (vo): The books were popular obviously, but not a household name like they are today.
(Cut to more footage of the LOTR movies)
NC (vo): You felt a bit more of a connection when you found someone who did read the books and could talk about it in as much detail as you could. When the movies came out, everybody knew about Lord of the Rings. And with the popularity of something great you want to share, also comes the loss of feeling like you discovered something unique. It used to be, "You like Lord of the Rings? So do I! Maybe you and I have a pretty cool connection." Now it's "You like Lord of the Rings? No shit, fucking everybody does! How are you any different from anybody else?" It's a double-edged sword with many pros and cons. Yeah, it's great that more attention is being given to something that you consider good, but does it also take away a closer feeling you had about it? Interestingly enough, though, while the film itself doesn't change, your reaction to watching it can, and this is once again where audience participation plays a big part.
NC: Two films I thought were comic masterpieces when they first came to the big screen were Borat and There's Something About Mary.
(Posters for There's Something About Mary and Borat are shown)
NC (vo): The audiences at both the viewings I was at were howling with laughter, and I was there howling along with them.
(Cut to alternating footage of both films)
NC (vo): When I was done watching each film, I remembered saying to myself, "These are some of the best comedies ever. By God, I never saw an audience laugh so much!" But then, when I watched them alone at home, it was a very different experience. Suddenly, the shock value didn't seem so shocking, and the humor seemed a little slower and more awkward than I remembered. They were still okay, but what happened between watching it with an audience and watching it on my own? How did I go from roaring with laughter to just a little giggle every once in a while. The films themselves were exactly the same, so how come they weren't making me laugh as hard?
NC: It was then I realized just how big an impact your environment can have.
(More footage of Borat and Mary follows)
NC (vo): Borat plays great to a crowd because its jokes are shocking enough to get a big laugh, but also slow enough so that you don't miss any of the jokes that follow. But on its own, the shock value isn't as offensive because you're not surrounded with as many people laughing along with it, sharing an experience with a crowd where you know something is wrong, but you're going to laugh along with it anyway. You feel kind of naughty for doing so, but you're doing it with a group. Therefore, it feels much bigger and much grander. But when you're watching it on your own, not only is that experience gone, but the pacing seems kind of weird, because they left in a lot of long pauses where the laughter is supposed to go. So now the movie seems kind of slower and not as quick, because there's not as many distractions with the crowd.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Frasier)
NC (vo): This is why so many sitcoms still have live audiences. If you hear a large amount of people laughing, it'll enforce, even if subtly, that you should laugh, too. Logically, if so many people are having a good time, that must mean there's something funny about it, right? How less funny would these sitcoms be if they took out all that laughter? Some can still hold up, but a lot of them really rely on it.
(Cut to another clip of Mary)
NC (vo): As we've discovered, certain movies do, too.
NC: But as we've noticed before, hype can work against a movie as well.
(Cut to footage of Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
NC (vo): If there's anything we're starting to learn here, it's that repetition is fine, but the more and more you do it, the more and more boring it starts to become. (shots of posters for the Transformers movies are shown) Especially when you have other versions to compare it to.
(Cut to a shot of a poster for Fierce Creatures)
NC (vo): John Cleese stands by that Fierce Creatures is not a bad film, but because they used the same cast as...
(Cut to a poster for A Fish Called Wanda, which features the exact same cast as Fierce Creatures)
NC (vo): ...the Oscar-winning Fish Called Wanda, it was hated and despised by audiences and critics alike.
NC: So, hype and overexposure can be helpful, but sadly, it can kind of be unfair.
(Cut to more footage of Frozen)
NC (vo): It can affect us in ways that we're consciously not even aware of. It can change our reaction to a second viewing, even if the movie hasn't changed at all. But something that should also be picked up very quickly is that people always want to make a big deal out of something. Remember when (a poster of the following pops up:) Twilight was everywhere? Remember when (a poster of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen pops up) Transformers was everywhere? Remember when (a poster of the following pops up:) Jim Carrey's Grinch was everywhere?
(Cut to a montage of images of Grinch merchandise)
NC (vo): Yeah, remember, kids, Christmas isn't bought at a store; now please buy our board games, toys and a whole bunch of other shitty merchandise! Yeah, you couldn't escape it for a while!
(Cut to footage of Star Wars: A New Hope)
NC (vo): But that's my point: there's always going to be something people are going to obsess over for a long period of time. So, I suppose all we can really do is hope that the obsession is over something good, rather than over something bad.
NC: With that said, I'd much rather take this shit (points left; posters for Star Wars, Frozen and Christmas Story pop up) over this shit (points right; posters for Transformers, Twilight and The Grinch pop up) any day.
(Shots of the movies the NC mentioned are shown)
NC (vo): I'd much rather watch Elsa build a castle than Bella and Edward kiss. I'd much rather see Ralphie and his mother bond than see Jim Carrey force a guy to kiss a dog's ass. I'd much rather see Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star than Michael Bay jerking off to his boy toys.
(Cut to more footage of the climax of A New Hope)
NC (vo): And sure, we'll start to get tired of seeing them everywhere, but we should be happy we appreciate something that had so much creativity to begin with.
(Cut to shots of The Lion King)
NC (vo): Years ago, people were sick of seeing Lion King everywhere; now it's a movie most people wouldn't dream of being without.
(Cut to shots of posters for The Dark Knight)
NC (vo): Remember how everyone wouldn't shut up about The Dark Knight? But now, you put it on every once in a while, and it's still a good flick.
(Cut to still more footage of Frozen)
NC (vo): We're gonna go through a love-and-hate relationship of anything that gets popular.
(Cut to footage of a Transformers movie)
NC (vo): But it's good to know that for every terrible piece of crap that becomes a phenomenon...
(Cut to footage of Star Wars: A New Hope)
NC (vo): ...there's something intelligent and inspiring that's waiting to become just as popular. If you're gonna be sick of something you're gonna see over and over...
(Cut to one more clip of Frozen)
NC (vo): ...just pray it's something you at least kind of like to begin with.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (gets up from his chair and leaves)