Have you heard about this show, Arrested Development? It’s really interesting.
OK, I haven’t just heard of Arrested Development, a very popular comedy from the early 2000s. When I was in college nearly 15 years ago, I had a roommate who was crazy about it. He always told me to watch this “eccentric” show (which had already existed for years at that time) and insisted that I liked it.
But I didn’t see it. And over the years, people’s chin will go down when people mention the show, and I shrugged and said I’ve never seen it.
But a few weeks ago, 18 years after the first episode aired, I finally started watching Arrested Development. And yes, I like it. Being so late to part of popular culture means that you can enjoy it yourself in a time and space far from hype, discourse, and inevitable backlash.
When I made it Bing last year, I was about five years behind Schitt’s Creek. By the time I caught up with Breaking Bad, it had been around for six or seven years. In many cases, the only online reference to some of the cultures I consume for the first time will be nostalgic. And waiting for decades before watching a popular TV show or reading an award-winning “Genius’s Work” novel is a bit like going into a time machine. Arrested Development is the first time for anyone in low-rise boot-cut jeans who has never heard of Facebook.
And my online media bubble vibrates with the new Sally Rooney take, but I haven’t even read the first one. Obviously I’m not proud to miss the whole literary mood and moment. More than that, they instinctively try to avoid hype. And this is not due to the assumption that the hype would disappoint me.
In most cases, hype exists for a reason. It sounds strangely controversial to say, but the hype is often very good. I may destroy you. Red Dead Redemption 2. Gregs Vegan Sausage Roll.
My allergy to hype comes from the accompanying endless discourse about whether the hype is good or bad. Discourse that usually seems to ignore the fact that this is subjective. The hype French octopus – a new fast food boom that crosses paninis and burritos and stabs chicken nuggets in them – may not appeal to you. But that is not the end of the world.
I’m not entirely sure what “Sally Rooney’s discourse” is, but when some of the culture (especially those created by women) becomes so popular that people start to oppose it, it’s relevant. I feel that there is.
Only niches with small, cult followers are art, right? And every time something reaches the ubiquitous stage of love that provokes memes, the inevitable article “What you love is bad, in fact” begins to appear. And when I love it anew, I don’t need it.
You can see it enter Sally Rooney a few years after the hype has cooled down. You can think a little about her book, without the deafening background roar of both her hardcore fans and critics. One day, around 2028, I ride a time machine to read ordinary people, see ordinary people, and eat French octopus. Everything is completely silent.