Magic Tricks, Christmas, and Living up to the Hype

[03:25] Ryan: so here’s the question:
[03:25] Ryan: did it live up to the hype?

[03:25] Rich: Yeah, I’d say so.
[03:26] Rich: The problem is that hype is such an animal.
[03:26] Rich: but it was outstanding, and it did everything I expected plus a whole lot more.

[03:26] Ryan: I think this is the start of a post…

Hype is such an animal.

Rich said what I’ve been trying to put into words for some time. Hype controls so much of what we do these days that it is increasingly difficult to be satisfied with anything. Lloyd Dobler had made it impossible to satisfy a woman, and ESPN has ruined your ability to properly enjoy sports.

I have a friend who happens to be a Red Wings fan. He is a fairly regular reader, and during the Cup Finals he gave me a pretty hard time for rooting against the Red Wings. This post in particular got to him, and he wondered why I was telling everyone to “take a deep breath” about the series after the thrilling Game Three.

It was a difficult explanation to give at the time, but I’ll try again here: the reason I was so excited after that game was not because of the Penguins win, but because the series was finally living up to the hype.

For the first time since the lockout people were talking about hockey, and the Finals weren’t living up to the big predictions people were assigning them. The Wings won the first two games handily, and the Penguins looked outclassed in every way.

Can you imagine that? Even when witnessing good hockey we were unsatisfied with the performance. We wanted to see competitive hockey, thrilling hockey. We as a society are never content with what we are given; never satisfied with the results. Even after the Finals ended there were those that claimed the series still didn’t live up to the hype. Game Six wasn’t good enough, the celebration wasn’t good enough, Malkin wasn’t good enough. Completely ignoring a fantastic Game Five and the fact that we were a Crosby backhand away from overtime in Game Six, people clamored for satisfaction.

It is a tough case to make recently, because so much of our sporting events have certainly lived up to the insane hype we attach to them. Even with the hype machine that is ESPN, even in this world of hyper criticism and dissection, so much of the sporting world is overwhelming our grandiose expectations.

Adrian Peterson lived up to the hype. The Winter Classic lived up to the hype. Super Bowl XLII lived up to the hype. The Celtics lived up to the hype. Wimbledon lived up to the hype. The Home Run Derby lived up to the hype. Even the MLB All Star Game was getting up there by the 14th inning or so.

In a world so full of hyperbole and inflated hopes, we have seen a surprising amount of things break the plain of tolerance with regard to our expectations. Still, even in this regard we are not left impressed. We want to see how the next Super Bowl goes. What city gets to claim itself “TitleTown”? Was this the greatest {blank] of all time?

No. In fact, who cares?

The impact hype has on our lives is quite stunning, and it has rendered us unable to truly appreciate anything remarkable we experience. Why can’t we simply be satisfied with the things that live up to the hype? Why can’t we merely be content with the result? Perhaps it is something Vonnegut would say, but why can’t we accept the cards we have been dealt?

Christmas is the perfect example of why hype sucks sometimes. Everyone loves Christmas, but the fact of the matter is that it is 24 hours and nothing more. All that time to get ready for it, all those plans and money and excitement. In the end, it comes and goes quickly, and no matter how much cool crap you get it will leave you completely underwhelmed.

As a society we set ourselves up to fail in this manner. It is a cruel fate to get so excited about something you make yourself unable to be satisfied by it. We turn ourselves into Tantalus, unable to grasp the fruit above while the water taunts below.

The point of all this is that we have it much better than we think. As sports fans we attach a greater meaning to our games than they actually have. This is completely okay, and I’m here to tell you that you should take the time to enjoy them when they are as good as advertised. We deserve to be satisfied, and lately we should be.

That conversation I began with could have been about any number of things. Ryan Miller’s contract, the Red Sox game, maybe even an iPhone. However, it was about The Dark Knight, and I agree with what Rich had to say.

Chris will review the movie in full, but I felt the need to elaborate on its hype. The movie may not go down as the best of all time, and Heath Ledger may not win an Oscar, but it lived up to the hype. In the face of immense pressure to deliver, in the wake of a tragic death and a level of almost fanatical devotion to its characters, The Dark Knight delivered on every level.

It may not be the best way to look at things, but to me that’s all that matters.