Fireside Chat #19 (Spring ’06)

LOVIN THAT HYPE MACHINE

By the time I actually heard “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor,” I knew that the Arctic Monkeys had the highest-selling British debut of all time, that they’re dubbed the biggest Brit-rock band since Oasis, that one prominent reviewer had heralded their album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” as the 5th greatest British album of all time, that their album holds together as a piece of social commentary about the British clubbing scene, that they are taking their newfound fame in stride and that every member of their band is younger than me.

Man, that was some sweet hype! I’d heard so much going into this listening experience that my curiosity was absolutely peaked. Had I heard them on my own, I would have summed their sound up with “two parts The Living End and one part Franz Ferdinand” and I switched my iTunes back to Sufjan. But thanks to the hype, I knew that I’m supposed to really like them but admit that maybe the reviewers went overboard. So that’s what I think of them.

Being the frontman of Biodome 5 (2nd place winner’s of Pepperdine’s Battle of the Bands), I’ve been the subject of hype myself and have studied how it works. Let me break down the “hype cycles” for you:

  1. An advertiser, reviewer or fan gets the word out there. “Have you heard about that Biodome 5?” some freshman says to her RA. “They’re really blowing up.”
  2. Soon, the hype is about the hype itself. “My ears are buzzing with talk about that Biodome 5!” a Pepperdine administrator tells a Caf worker. “They’re all anyone ever talks about.”
  3. Then the hype is criticized. “People talk about Biodome 5 like they’re so much better than The Beatles,” a professor writes in an op-ed letter the Graphic, “but really they’re only slightly better than The Beatles.” That stings. But the freaky twist is that even the criticism of the hype creates hype. When the vindictive professor writes hurtful things about Biodome 5, it creates more hype for Biodome 5. You try to keep us down, but you can’t!
  4. Repeat. Guitarist Alex Moore sets fire to the green room, and all of a sudden Biodome 5 is back in the news.

Alan Moore, the author of the graphic novel, V for Vendetta, has publicly renounced any connection with the Wachowski brothers’ film. In doing so, he only adds to the hype. All of a sudden, it’s important to see the movie and form an opinion about it to see whether or not Moore was just being a jerk. Not that any of us have (or ever will) read the book.

The wonderful thing about all this hype is that it informs our decisions of so that we don’t have to make them ourselves. Yes, it would be nice to make up our own minds about what music, books and film are good or bad, but who has that kind of time?

As long as people keep talking about us, The Arctic Monkeys and Biodome 5 are here to stay. The only way to fight hype is with silence, and silence is, by nature, boring.

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One thought on “Fireside Chat #19 (Spring ’06)

  1. dave says:

    I am participating in the Biodome 5 hype cycle by making “Ah, ha, what’s that fuss?” a part of my routine response to our 10 month old. Yes, he will always know Biodome 5. I don’t know if Alan Moore would be pleased, but if he doesn’t even come to hear me say it, he will never be able to storm out in a huff. I am so totally disassociating myself from him. I believe this completes the cycle.

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