If your wish is to lead a happy, fulfilled existence, then a Taoist master might instruct you to live without expectation. It’s certainly an endeavor worth attempting so long as you don’t expect to feel happy or fulfilled. But at the very least you won’t be quite so baffled by how a great percentage of the population seems to believe The Godfather is the best movie ever made.
Perhaps it’s not truly the worst film ever made, but by the time Mandi and I got around to watching Coppola‘s gangland classic, there wasn’t even the glimmer of a chance it could live up to the hype. Our preconceptions indelibly coloured our viewing experience.
The Godfather didn’t just have to live up to the hyperbolic praise of its fans, it had to live up to our own deeply personal and unique judgements of what an “unsurpassed masterpiece” is (or just what a good mobster movie might be). Inevitably, it didn’t score well on either of our subconscious checklists. Because of the hype, it’s a film I find I’m personally incapable of judging on its own merits. I can’t be objective. The hype, in this case, is insurmountable.
Similarly, I suspect that if I’d somehow never heard of The Dark Knight and rented it on a whim one night, I’d have probably thought it was pretty good. A bit hokey and maybe Heath Ledger‘s performance is a little too absurdly over-the-top… but hey, it’s a goddamn Batman movie. That’s all completely to be expected. I’d probably have enjoyed it instead of being deeply irritated by the mediocrity of the “best film ever.”
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say we’ve all had a viewing or reading experience ruined by hype a few times in our lives. Plenty of terrific (or at least perfectly decent) films, books and television shows just don’t have a chance living up to our expectations—including, not un-ironically, Great Expectations.
Luckily, no one over-hypes Nerd Hurdles.
THE NERDS KNOW: For those of you hoping we’d talk about Star Trek more, we spend most of the episode responding to Chris Lockhart‘s email regarding our Voyager episode. Send in your feedback and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.