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Hype Backlash

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Rabinowitz: What are you reading?
Topper Harley: Great Expectations.
Rabinowitz: Is it any good?
Topper Harley: It's not what I'd hoped for.

Your friends have been bugging you to watch the latest TV show that everyone's talking about. Every newspaper raves about its originality, well-deserved popularity, and effective mix of comedy and drama, on the front page of the Entertainment section. Critics are rushing to hail it as the re-definition of its genre. After the thirtieth or so "Just watch it already, geez!" and maybe a Hype Aversion stage, you finally give in; you rent the show's first season on DVD, pop it in your player, and lay back to enjoy the latest masterpiece...

...Except you come away with a very different opinion than your friends; to you, it's at best a mediocre show with average plots and few laughs or an utterly confusing one with more than enough twists to boggle the mind, a show that definitely isn't the seminal classic everyone's touting it as. What on earth did everybody see in this?

Looks like you've just suffered Hype Backlash.

This usually occurs when Quality by Popular Vote fails. Most often, the work isn't bad in itself, and would easily have been accepted as a solid and enjoyable work by the same person under different circumstances. But few things can live up to being praised as perfect works of pure genius by lots of people for long. To someone who was expecting nothing short of a flawless masterpiece, the disappointment of anything less can be bitter indeed.

This is even more ironic if the disappointment stems from the viewer having seen the work's elements done to death already, when the work itself had originated those clichés. Or the inverse can happen; a work that seems incredibly inventive and original to a relatively young target audience may fall flat when seen by an older viewer who has seen past works that it liberally borrows from.

This is often the root of the gulf that can exist between the critical praise a show receives and the public reaction to it. Critics have a loud voice in influencing people about what they think is worth seeing, but it's not uncommon for them and the public to have different tastes, expectations, and demands.

This can also show up when, for the person disappointed by the work, something is heavily over-analyzed or praised as being more rebellious, challenging or intellectually "deep" than it is. It's common for people coming to something that has been praised to the moon for its iconoclastic bravery or intellectual complexity to find that what they are watching is neither as revolutionary or deep as they've been led to believe. In some cases, the revolutionary unique show you're watching was only revolutionary when it was made.

If the people who are praising the work are also spoiling it in their praise, this becomes very likely. Almost guaranteed to occur if fans claim the work is a Trope Codifier, and/or that it's the inspiration of everything, including your beloved obscure work that was released years before it but is not as popular.

Over-enthusiastic fans can also provoke this reaction, of course; a fan of something is always going to be particularly committed and convinced of its quality, but they can let their enthusiasm get out of hand. Often, this results when a person initially only had a mild dislike, or even just a passive disinterest, in a particular work - until over-enthusiastic fans of the work start harping on and/or berating the person for not enjoying the work as much as they do. This can often have the effect of making the person suddenly hate the work that he or she previously had no strong antipathy towards.

Common with literature that school assignments force you to read and analyze; if you decide that you don't like it, you can't just put the book down and pick up another one because you must read it from beginning to end, adding to the difficulty in reading the novel.

The true backlash comes when the person who "doesn't get it" becomes so irritated at others' tendency to see that work as absolutely perfect that they put as much energy into downplaying or nitpicking it to show that it isn't as wonderful as everybody seems to think it is, forming a hatedom. If pitted against a fanbase so utterly enthralled with the work that they consider the slightest criticism to be an act of war, it will draw the two camps into a Flame War that causes some to wonder if nobody is allowed to like popular movies anymore.

This, as well as Hype Aversion, is often a result of someone who may have been burned one too many times with "Try it, you'll like it!" promises in real life. Let's face it, everyone has had one of those experiences. You probably remember as a kid being told to try something that looks and smells absolutely unappetizing at all, with the assurance that "you'll like it" by your parents/guardians, that you actually thought tasted horrible. Naturally, this happens with entertainment too. This is especially annoying since some people can be quite overzealous about recommending a show to a friend. There is nothing bad about recommending a work to a friend, but if they don't show an interest in it, then it's generally a good idea to back off. Sometimes, they might actually see it not because they think it might be good, but to shut you up, meaning they're already viewing it through Jade-Colored Glasses.

In the rare event, hype backlash may be portrayed in fiction, as An Aesop about getting ones hopes up impossibly high.

See I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham for when the subject really does live up to the hype. When the opposite to this occurs, and something is condemned and criticized in such a way as to make it impossible that the work is as bad as it is made out to be, that's Critical Backlash.

Related to Hollywood Hype Machine, along with healthy doses of Opinion Myopia and Fan Myopia. See also Wanting Is Better Than Having for when this is used as An Aesop or to refer to the psychology behind it.

No examples here, please. Examples of this are subjective, not to mention they can lead into both Conversation in the Main Page and Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.