In a past post, I talked about how hype can sometimes ruin our enjoyment of an anime we may have otherwise liked. Whether an anime has staff pedigree or a reputable source material, these things are what make fans build high expectations for these titles before they even see them, which may inadvertently cause them to be disappointed had they not been so hyped. But while that topic was about hype ruining an anime before-hand, today I wanted to look at “post-hype”; how lasting popularity can cause us to hate something we may have just been neutral about, or even liked, otherwise…
Out of all the anime that come out every season, most simply fade away once they finish airing without much say from fans or anti-fans. Some might garner enough of a following to get a second season, but very few become amazingly popular – like, Evangelion, Madoka Magica, and Naruto kind of popular. But despite series like this being loved by so many, this also necessitates being hated by many. It’s not hard to see how this trend comes about: an anime airs and becomes very popular, thus a lot of people are talking about it, which causes more and more people to take notice of it and check it out, and if they don’t end up liking it as much as everyone else, they’re more inclined to make their opposing opinion heard simply because their view is different from the norm. And some people can just leave it at that – they personally didn’t think this anime was as good as everyone else thought it was, but oh well. Usually they can find something good about it and understand why it’s so popular even if those elements aren’t their cup of tea. But then you have the other affect that popularity causes – the backlash. The people who watched the anime and didn’t get blown away by it like everyone else feel cheated. Instead of accepting that it’s just not their thing and moving on, they get continually annoyed because everyone around them is still praising this anime, perhaps even years later. And that mild annoyance could then turn to anger and frustration, which then turns to downright hatred. Now the question arises: if this anime didn’t turn out to be so popular, would this person still have ended up hating it?
The answer to that is…probably not. They still may not have particularly liked it, but their dislike would have likely been more subdued. If the anime wasn’t such a hit, they wouldn’t be exposed to so many opposing opinions and thus wouldn’t feel such a strong need to defend their opinion and really question what they did or didn’t like about it. Then there are the cases where people actually kind of liked the anime, or at least thought it was decent/okay. But when it becomes so massively popular and everyone is praising it through the roof, rather than focus on the things they did like about it, they feel inclined to focus on what they didn’t like, and suddenly an anime they may have mildly enjoyed turns into one they dislike simply because of popularity. Again, I think this scenario has to do with annoyance at being bombarded by so many passionately differing opinions turning into hatred. In this case, rather than the frustration being “I thought that anime was bad, why do so many people like it?” it’s “Yeah, the anime was alright, but geez, it wasn’t THAT good! Calm down, people!” With so many fans praising an anime you thought was only “okay,” you again feel the need to defend your opinion of it being “okay.” So you start to focus on the things you didn’t like about it, since that’s what will take away points from all the praising fans. And consequently, by focusing on the negative things to back up your opinion of it being “not THAT good,” you forget what you originally liked about it and develop an overall negative attitude towards it. And again, this probably wouldn’t have happened had the anime in question not become so popular.
I suppose it’s human nature to be bothered when a lot of people have a differing opinion about something than you. But while hype or lack thereof could influence how I personally enjoy something, I certainly won’t let it flat-out determine that. If something I like happens to become very popular, yes, that does make my fandom fuller because I can easily share it with others. But ultimately my love of it comes from myself and I know I would still love it even if it wasn’t popular. On the other hand, if something I don’t like becomes popular, I still try to see what’s good about it and understand why so many people like it. If something’s popular, it’s because it has themes and elements that resonate with a wide variety of people, so usually I can find at least one good thing about it and just leave it at that. And if I really can’t find anything worth praising in it, it is annoying, but it’s not a big deal – we’re just talking about TV shows and movies after all. If the popular thing is something horrifyingly bad for real-life society, like, suddenly drowning puppies becomes a popular pastime, then yeah, I would be passionately upset. But if it’s just someone liking a cartoon or TV show that I don’t like, that’s not worth getting hate-filled about (unless the show advocates drowning puppies of course).
Popular Internet reviewer, Nostalgia Critic, made a good editorial video about how hype can potentially ruin people’s opinions of otherwise good movies. He uses many examples, including Frozen, A Christmas Story, and Lord of the Rings, but much of what he says can obviously relate to anime and other entertainment mediums as well. The overall message he gives at the end is one that I think sums up this topic of hype really well and is something that haters of popular things should think about: people will always obsess over things, so instead of being hateful, be glad that the thing they’re obsessing over isn’t a genuinely bad thing. For an anime example, even if you personally hate Madoka Magica, try to take comfort in knowing that at least this show people like so much has a compelling story, unique art style, and intellectual themes that convey things about life and humanity…in other words, there’s some worth in it, which makes its popularity better than the popularity of any number of stupid TV shows deprived of intellect and creative effort.
So, do you get angry when an anime you don’t like becomes popular? Or do you get angry at the people who hate on popular titles? Or do you just not pay attention to hype one way or the other? XD