So August Bravo tweets at me last night: “super 8 didn’t live up to my expectations but was still pretty good.”
It made me wonder, why do we go through life judging things based on our expectations? Obviously, there are a lot of low-level heuristic reasons for this in terms of everyday brain processing. But why do we do this for movies, books, events, personal experiences? It’s tempting to say this is a modern age phenomenon. That we didn’t do this before the internet. I mean, did people in Colonial America really walk around saying “man, that play didn’t live up to my expectations. The town cryer totally over-hyped it”? But I’m hesitant. Any time you start thinking that anything new is happening in society, you’re probably going to be wrong. Just ask the lorites. Still, the internet has a way of amplifying the echo chamber in ways that didn’t used to be possible.
The first time I can remember this sort of “didn’t live up to the hype” attitude permeating culture was when the Seinfeld finalé aired. Not that this didn’t happen beforehand, but this is when I started to notice. So Much Hype, they would all say, and the show had Failed To Live Up To It. Soon, this way of thinking seemed to spread to practically any form of entertainment or news event. Y2K? Overhyped! Star Wars Prequel? Didn’t meet my expectations. New Franzen book? HYPED! And so on.
But why does hype matter? Why do we go through life with the need to judge entertainment and events against our expectations? Why is it no longer sufficient to just say “I thought X was okay, but not great.”
The answer probably lies somewhere is the middle of modern internet shared culture, man’s fear of being made a fool, and the apparent need for everyone to have an opinion about everything. I guess it’s easier to talk about yourself and what you wanted from something rather than to articulate a critical viewpoint on it.
I would just posit this: it’s no way to live. Stop thinking about the hype. Ignore the hype. Don’t worry about whether your expectations are too high or too low, because in the end, nobody cares what you thought you would think, and you shouldn’t either. Just take it as it comes. (editor’s note: that’s what she said)
I really liked Super 8. Not a perfect movie by any means. Not a classic. And that’s okay. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a movie like this. Visual storytelling! Steady pacing! Kids who act like kids, not precocious one-liner machines or dead weight! People call this Spielbergian, but I feel like this is a disservice to both Spielberg and JJ Abrams. There was a time, lets call it “the 80s,” when this is what tons of movies looked like. They weren’t just a handful of CGI set pieces strung together by the weakest of scripts with lowest common denominator humor. Sure, maybe the idea wouldn’t be that groundbreaking or original, but at least they made some movies that weren’t remakes, reboots, sequels or adaptations back then. I miss this kind of movie. There should be more like it.
Also, Elle Fanning is ridiculously good in this. Worth seeing it just for her. Star-making.
This is what August Bravo thought. (editor’s note: no, we don’t know what he’s talking about either.)
August Bravo: Ok, I’ll get this off my chest first. The teaser for Super 8 had me really excited to see this movie. JJ Abrams could literally touch my bowel movement and make it into art, so I knew this would be an astonishing movie with some mediocre(ha) special effects.
The great thing about a teaser, especially like the one for Super 8 which I thought was just a working title, is that they say nothing. Ideas are populating your mind.
Naturally, I’m thinking Cthulhu.
Naturally, I’m wrong. How much is this guy going to fuck with us(me)? It’s cool, because it was still very awesome. Not as awesome as I’m thinking in my head because teasers let the mind wander. While most aren’t this broad, people can’t help but think of things beyond their imagination. Why else release a teaser trailer? Because they don’t have enough content to fill a whole trailer? Well yeah, probably. But they want to give the audience a ride. They want their expectations to be high.
And then with the full trailer, they want to smash all your Cthulhu-loving dreams and just show you it’s a movie about some kids with a camera. Albeit, still a very very good movie, with a very meaningful(aliens!!) plot. But audiences expect nothing and something. And I’m sorry that with Abrams I expect everything.
So what if it wasn’t Cthulhu, I still thought it would be something more. Yeah, it would have been cornier if it was more about (spoiler alert!) aliens, rather than having it very down to Earth. But I’m into bad movies. I think expectations are what get the movie going, the audience going. I’ll end it with this. Don’t put practically nothing in your teaser if you don’t want me to dream big.
As far as expectations go, I set mine at an all-time low and I’m generally never disappointed. Generally.