Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why it's Good to Jump on Bandwagons

I used to think that if everyone liked something, I should avoid it. I'm not sure what my logic was behind that. I had a hipster mindset that told me if everyone liked it, something was wrong with it and I shouldn't become a drone who mindlessly follows trends.

This attitude applied to books. 

I can only think of two reasons why anyone would hesitate to jump on bandwagons: 1. because he/she thinks most people aren't intelligent, ergo the more people liked a book, the lower its quality must be, and 2. falling in with trends makes people lose their individualities.

Guess what I discovered:

If everyone likes a book, it's because the book is good.

I realized this after reading the first Hunger Games book. Holy crap, it was awesome. When I asked a friend of mine if she had read the series, she said, "Naw, I didn't jump on that bandwagon."

I thought, "Are you kidding me?! Jump on it! Do it now!"
There have been many times when I resisted an overwhelming trend, only to eventually give in and regret not being a part of it with everyone else. Take Lost, for example. My feelings toward the ending of that show notwithstanding, I loved the series. I wish I had watched it when the rest of the world did. Instead I watched downloaded episodes a year after it was over when no one was talking about it anymore.

Harry Potter, on the other hand, was a bandwagon I jumped on right away. I read the first book when I was the same age as Harry (eleven), and I spent my childhood standing in line in stores at 12:01 am on release day, buying every-flavored jelly beans, making "butter beer" with my mom, watching the movies multiple times and griping about their stupidity each time. When the last movie came out and Harry Potter was over, I was 25 and my childhood was over too. 

If I avoided all that just to stand out from the crowd, I would have lost many precious experiences.

Ironically, I believe when I do jump on a bandwagon as soon as it starts, I end up retaining my individuality. Take Twilight, for example. By the time a friend gave me her copy and I broke down and read it because nothing else was in the house, I was determined not to like it. What if I had read it before being told to hate it? How would I have felt then? When a reputation proceeds a book, our ability to form our own opinions is compromised.

I've decided to actively participate in bandwagons for two reasons:

1. To Help My Writing.

If a book takes the world by storm there must be some reason behind it, even if the book seems stupid to me. As a novelist, its my job to find out why so I can replicate it.

2. To Be a Part of History

I want to be a part of my own culture. My history is happening around me, and I'm not going to miss it. 

In middle school when all the girls were swooning over Titanic, I was right in there with them. I watched Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in the theater with my hair in Princess Leia buns and played with light sabers while my family waited in line, and I had fun doing it. When Lord of the Rings came out, I quoted lines along with everyone else. People are going to talk about Will and Kate's wedding for years; I like being able to say I saw it. 

Whenever you hear others rave about a book, movie, event, etc., I encourage you to check it out and see what all the fuss is about.

11 comments:

  1. Hmm, I sometimes think the bandwagon is hype. Everyone read The Da Vinci Code, then lots of people said it was bad. I read/watch things I'm interested in. I read/watch a lot of things that most other people hate. But if I'm interested in something, the fact other people like it too wouldn't deter me. In short, I independently decide what I'm going to read and watch - sometimes I'm with the crowd, sometimes I'm not. I don't mind either way.

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  2. Jump on it! Jump on it! Woot... woot... Jump on it!!

    That was my lame attempt at serenading you with a blog song ( : You can "defriend" me now if you want. Heehee.

    No, but SERIOUSLY... I LOVE THIS POST!! It irritates me to NO END when people won't watch or read something because its popular. Cause... wait? Isn't NOT reading something because its popular the SAME FREAKIN' THING as READING something because its popular??

    Um, yeah. You're still conforming.

    The important thing is--if you're going to read/watch said hype--is to come out of it with your own opinions. And stick to 'em! Even if it means you hate HP when everyone else loves him! (Although be prepared to get flogged!!)

    And I love what you said about it "being a part of history." I had never considered "hype" in that kind of a light before. BUT YOU'RE RIGHT!! Someday our kids our gonna look back and ask us how the HP books affected our lives... and I'll be like "Well, let me tell you about the Firebolt I used to ride around my college dorm room."

    Of course, in my mind, my kids will already be HP addicts. But still ( :

    Seriously, great post!!

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    Replies
    1. Everything I would have tried to say, Julie said. Yes, yes! Jump around, jump around, jump up jump up and get down!

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  3. My sister refused to read the Harry Potter books for the longest time for this exact reason (and because she read 1-3 and got bored..so close to when all the good stuff starts!) She finally broke down and read them and absolutely loved them!

    I wish I would've read HP when it was coming out. I was introduced to the movies via fluke and I had a hard time getting into the first book so it took me forever to get around to reading them. Needless to say by time I did I already knew everything that had happened :( Still love them though. Always<3

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  4. Great post. I'm a full on bandwagon jumper. I will admit, there are also times when I jumped off the bandwagon upon realizing that the ride was not to my liking. Twilight being one of those. The point of course is that jumping off is always an option after you've climbed on. But if you don't climb on with everyone else, the later ride won't be as fun.

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  5. Your post pulled the words right out of my mouth. I used to join the bandwagon many times. Growing up I guess I was looking for my own identity and where or with whom I belong. Later I realized one doesn't have to be part of something to be someone. I needed to define myself on my own terms and while it took me quite a while to figure that out, I'm still glad I did. Now, I choose which ones to join and which to stay away from. But I do find out what the fuss is all about. As you said, maybe there is something there I could learn from.

    I'm an aspiring writer and totally love your blog. Following you now :)

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  6. Teralyn, you're such a good writer. I love how you phrased this discussion, and it's so true!

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  7. Agreed, totally, the worst thing that will happen if you read a book that's trendy is, you'll learn something about the current state of the market. Handy information!

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  8. I'm glad you all liked the post! Now that you two are singing that song, I have an overwhelming urge to dance... jump, jump, jump, everybody jump...

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  9. Ah - but the dream of all writers is not to be on a bandwagon, stuffed there with the awe-struck crowd, but to be driving the thing at full gallop!
    LOL
    I read the first Twilight novel and quite enjoyed it, for it was fairly exciting. I tried the econd book, and gave up. Just did't grab me. Harry Potter I liked the first book, the second was OK, read the third because I wanted to know what happened, only got half way through the next and haven't bothered with the others.
    So the answer, really, I suppose, is choose your bandwagons well, jump off when you're bored with the ride.... and from an author's POV if you discover you have created a bandwagon, keep it going at a good pacel.... and know when to stop the wagon before it crashes.

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  10. Helen: I couldn't have said it better myself!

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