Let’s get this straight right now… I can’t stand Harry Potter. So what? It’s not my thing. I don’t care that people love it. I don’t care that some people love it to the extent that ignore reality and begin to attempt to use spells in real life1. Even that’s fine as long as they don’t expect me to play along with it.
Even being someone who has no interest in those movies, the reaction I’ve seen from them bothers me. There are plenty of people who think they’re the greatest things ever and their lives are over now that the movies are done2, but there have also been people who absolutely hated it. Huge Harry Potter nerds, that hate it. Why? Because everything sucks.
There’s a trend now that no matter what you go to, or what you see, read, or hear, it can’t live up to anything positive. No matter what it is, it sucks. Just within the last week I’ve read complaints about the final episode of LOST3, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, old WCW pro-wrestling story lines, U2, Cars 2, and Mockingjay, the 3rd book of the Hunger Games trilogy. It’s like we can’t see things without seeing them in the negative. Nothing can ever possibly live up to the hype, and under no circumstances will anything ever be good.
It hasn’t always been this way. There was a time when we assumed that sequels would never be as good as their originals, movies would never be as good as the books, and that follow up albums didn’t have to stand on the qualifications of the one before it. We just took these things for what they were and let them entertain us. There was the rare jewel, like Terminator 2, that somehow managed to outdo the original, but there were a lot more Rocky II’s4 out there than T2’s.
But then came Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. A little background here. I’m as big of a Star Wars nerd as they come5, and I, like everyone else, was insanely excited about 3 more Star Wars movies. I’m not a George Lucas apologist. I’m never going to claim that Jar-Jar Binks was a good character6 but the prequels aren’t that terrible. There. I said it. String me up. Sure, The Phantom Menace isn’t the most interesting movie in the world, but it’s a fun Star Wars movie. Attack of the Clones and then Revenge of the Sith improve on it drastically. Are they what IV-VI would be? Not at all. How could they be? We had a 30 year head start on making them so much bigger than any contemporary movie could possibly be. Nothing would ever stand up to that hype.
And then that became the norm. Hating everything became cool. Liking anything without at least qualifying it with an exhaustive list of bad things about it became a way to lose all credibility on the subject. It’s fully possible, at this point, that we’ve lost our ability to see things in color, and instead can only focus on the oddly colored negative that can’t live up to the hype in our own minds7.
I’m not sure how far it goes, or how long this trend continues. If it only applies to entertainment, then maybe we’re able to simply accept how unentertaining entertainment can be to us now. But my fear is that it’s more. What if we’ve changed the lens so that nothing in our lives can be seen in true color? What if even the people around us that we interact with on a daily basis can’t live up to who we believe they should be?
What if we can’t even see ourselves anymore?
- This actually happened yesterday. I posted this status on Facebook: “Come on everybody, don’t hold back… I want to hear all about the midnight show last night… was Winnie the Pooh everything I think it will be?!?!?” After a friend re-posted it one of his friends, unknown to me, replied with a Harry Potter contrived death spell. Why are these people so easy to make fun of again? [↩]
- Despite J.K. Rowlings Pottermore stuff… since she hasn’t become rich enough yet… there’s still money to take from these people! [↩]
- I love this episode… I thought it tied up the series really well, and did so in a way that could have left us all continuing to discuss it for years in much the same way that us Star Wars nerds have done with episodes IV-VI instead of just whining about how bad the ending is. [↩]
- Ok, Rocky II isn’t terrible. It sort of keeps the formula of the first, but by III and IV they’re just cartoon characters… and yet we love them for completely different reasons than we did the Best Picture quality Rocky. [↩]
- Ok, maybe not. I’ve never dressed up for a movie, been to a convention, or attempted to kidnap George Lucas. [↩]
- Though at the time it came out I took two of my then very young cousins to see it, and they loved the character… he did have to draw in the kids somehow. But perhaps having a kid as the main character would have accomplished that on its own. [↩]
- If you can get past the wrestling part of this story, and the fact that you, like me, may not know anything about the WWE at this point, this is a great piece about how we create things in our mind that the reality of entertainment couldn’t possibly live up to [↩]