Long Running Media Franchises and Trends: Do Geeks Get Burn-Out?

I’ve noticed that I get sick of long running franchises (and even entire genres) a lot more quickly than most of my geeky friends seem to. I’ve always known that there was a point at which I would just be “done” with something and not be able to tolerate watching, reading, or even really hearing much about it anymore. The first time it happened to me was with He-Man and She-Ra back in the 80s. As much as I loved them, I Just. Couldn’t. Take. Anymore.

In fairness, that might have had to do with how often they were on and how many different stations were running the SAME EPISODES. My siblings are quite a bit younger than I am, and if they were left to their own devices, we would have watched the same four episodes 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s only so many hours of pink furry underwear and sparkly horses a kid can handle before her brain implodes.

Maybe I just got conditioned to have a low tolerance for repetition. I do eventually get over my “done-ness.” I rediscovered He-Man and She-Ra in the early 2000s and I even blog about them now. Still, once I’ve reached the burn-out point, I need a long time to recover (longer, it would seem, than most folk) and I have a shorter tolerance than I did before.

To give some more recent examples, I was reaching burn-out with urban fantasy and particularly vampires around the time that Twilight first caught on. At this point, if I hear or see mention of a vampire/urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, I actually feel vaguely queasy. What I would like to say is, “Seriously? Are we done yet? What else can POSSIBLY be said with this subject?” I know that’s not fair or polite. I’m sure there’s plenty left to say and do with it. Several of my writing friends are still working in this genre, and my tongue has its own suit of armor now.

I don’t know exactly when I hit the burnout point with superhero movies, but the last one I actually liked was released in 2006. Iron Man, if anyone’s curious. Since then, my reactions have ranged from indifference to a desire to hit myself with a hammer. Obviously, most of my WP friends are pretty rabid about comic book tie ins and the superhero genre right now. (Again. Tongue. Suit of armor. Possibly an Iron Man suit.)

If you know me at all, you know I love Star Wars. I think I hit the burnout point on the franchise around 2010 after I spent several years involved in collaborative fan projects. I’m touch-and-go with SW now. I can blog about it or read about it in spurts, but I’m having a very hard time working up any enthusiasm for new SW media. I just…don’t care, even though I should.

Last year, I discovered the Disney Fairies franchise. I watched the first four movies in rapid succession and loved them enough to blog about them. Some of my friends did as well. People started sending me links to other blogs about them as well. Then, the fifth movie came out, and, I realized I just didn’t give a shit anymore. I’m sad about that, but I’m pretty sure that at some point in the next couple of years, I will care again. I hope so.

My point in writing this is to say that I’ve observed that most geeks seem to decide they like something and want to read/watch/experience every possible permutation of it and analyze them all, sometimes for years at a time. I think I do that, but I seem to want to do it in smaller doses. I need a lot of time and space between doses, too. It makes me curious. Where is your burn-out point and what will trigger it?

This post was by Rose B. Fischer.Β Help thank her for her guest post by heading on over to her eponymous blog and giving her a follow! But first, answer her question down in the comments below!

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19 responses to “Long Running Media Franchises and Trends: Do Geeks Get Burn-Out?

  1. I am planning on writing a really long comment on this one, because you really made me think. Don’t have the opportunity at the moment (#GeekBaby), but I wanted to say that this post really made me think. I think part of it is you have to get past the knee-jerk reaction to jump in and defend your fandoms. Like my initial reaction is to jump in and defend recent superhero movies. But that’s not the point!

    The point is a question about how we consume media, about the very concept of “fandom.” Which can be personal and differ from person to person. But it’s a really good question – and I think it ties in to questions about Geek Gatekeeping as well. Like, are you “less” of a “geek” if you experience burnout? Are you less of a fan within a fandom if you aren’t exploring every iteration and different medium? If you’re not a “hardcore” fan but a more casual one?

    Great questions posed, and I look forward to the discussion to come!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think that’s exactly it. That’s why I made a point of sticking to stuff I actually LIKE as examples. I’m not into comics, but I’ve followed superheroes culturally forever. I love Star Wars, love MOTU, love Disney, etc. I still have this experience where I’ve just HAD ENOUGH of the thing. And I think that nowadays there’s just a tendency to keep doing the same thing in media for years because it sells, so I notice it a lot more than I did when I was younger. But I seem to be in the minority among geeks. Anyway, look forward to your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reclining quality. It is really as simple as that. There is a series of youth books I used to love. But there was a period in which they were really, really bad. So I stopped reading them. And then, years later, a new book of the series fell into my hands. I read it, it was good (in fact, one of my favourite of the series to this day) and I became more obsessed then ever. Now the quality is declining again and I am hitting a point at which I consider another break.

    As long as the MCU keeps up quality, I’ll watch it. With every other Superhero movie, I won’t, simply because I am not into Superhero movies in particular (or comics for that matter), I am specifically into the MCU.

    There are some stuff I simply grew out of, which I loved as a child but now see way more critical, or can’t connect to that well anymore simply because I am at a different point in my life. But usually I’ll stick around as long as the quality holds up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank for commenting. I think most people are going to respond the same way you did, but for me It’s not about the quality of the thing or whether it’s good or bad. I don’t think I “grow out” of things either since I still watch Sesame Street. For me it’s about how much is too much and there’s a point where I just feel like I’ve been seeing a thing for so long, in so many places and ways, that I stop caring at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I certainly grew out of Sesame Street. But that’s because the children programming is Germany is really, really good (honestly, in everything else the US tends to be ahead, but documentaries and children’s programming in Germany is so much better – and the comedy. Yeah, Germans actually do have humor) and compared to it, Sesame Street is kind of stupid. Why watching a show which tells me that the sky is blue if I can watch one which explains to me why it is blue?

        Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s completely possible to burn out on your favourite series/franchises.

    In fact, I was telling a friend of mine today that I’m a little Star Wars’d out and that I don’t really feel excited about The Force Awakens. Perhaps the prequels killed my enthusiasm for the films (though, strangely enough, I loved The Clone Wars) or maybe I’m just in a bit of an emotional dip at the moment…but I can’t say I’m counting down the days till the film is released. I’ll get back to you on this as December approaches.. πŸ˜‰

    In short, too much of a good thing can be bad for you and if you run a site/blog/Youtube channel devoted to one subject (be it video games, Star Wars, or comics), you can even begin to hate reading tweets on that subject or listening to others discussing it. I’ve had my ups and downs with the Tomb Raider game series and even though I run a fansite and several social media accounts, there are days when I’m just not in the mood for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I go through a stage when I’ve watched something, or read something ‘to death’ and then I need a break. But, if I’m honest, I go back to it pretty quickly. There are examples (and I won’t bore you with them!) of books in a series, or films in a franchise, episodes in a series…you get my drift, that I don’t particularly like and I’ll avoid those and stick to my favourites. It’s a really interesting question and, thinking about my triggers, I guess it’s when I watch/read too much of the same thing. If I keep it varied (and it’s hard because I can be a touch obsessive!) I’m usually okay. Or I just step away and go back to it later.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I would say I definitely experience this. Part of it is over-saturation, either from the side of the people creating the media, or on my end, since I tend to binge-insert-verb-here most things. It’s a voracious appetite for the stories, or the characters, but I think at some point, the problem arises in the fact that comics, in particular, have a tendency to recycle things. “Remember when Wolverine died and everyone really reacted to that emotionally? It’s hard to top that, so let’s kill him again!” I don’t mind it, but I get the AU frameworks, but after a while, it really is hard to make a character or story grow any more beyond the point you’ve already visited, and it is nostalgia and/or familiarity that keeps audiences going back.

    I’m the same regarding the time it takes to recover. I burned out on any fiction related to dragons in my teens, and I’m still weary to pick up a new one. I worry about constantly comparing new takes to old favorites, in particular.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you expressed part of it that I wasn’t able to, Alex. It does seem to me like, after a while, nothing is growing anymore and it’s just getting recycled. Stories don’t seem to have endings anymore, so it’s really difficult for me to take the risk of getting invested in a franchise or world because I know that I’ll be dragged along for YEARS waiting for growth that stalls or doesn’t happen in order to keep the franchise going. I mean, in one sense a story never really ends, but in another sense, and I think there’s a point where everything that can be done with a concept has just been expressed already in this iteration.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It varies for me. I can’t take the EXACT SAME THING over and over again (see: family rewatching Firefly until I couldn’t stand it) but if it continues to be new and interesting, and the quality doesn’t take a turn, I’ll be interested forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I promised I would be back to this one, and here I am! Good comments, and I think by-and-large people are agreeing with you, although we’re also seeing that people have different burn-out points or triggers – which makes sense.

    One of the things I go the most all-out for is actually music. When I find a new band, I tend to go back and buy most of their albums, or at least plan to (yay wishlists). Even then I’ll burn out on them, but after some time can come back, or maybe one album over another or switching between. I should add that given the chance to contribute on Sourcerer, the first thing I did was write a long series on music!

    I would say for Holly and I both, we definitely get burned out on things. Name the thing and we do. For us, it’s often a set-it-down-and-eventuallyy-we’ll-come-back-to-it. Take video games. For co-op, I would say we’re in the middle of at least 5 games we intend to beat. Single player I think we have at least three games going each, plus neither of us has beaten the game we were most excited for – Dragon Age Inquisition. I feel like other people – especially people who do reviews, so I guess it’s kind of their job – get through games REALLY QUICKLY. We usually hit a wall where we just walk away a long time. We’re still “playing it” but not actively. We’ll get back to it eventually. I recently just finally beat Lightning Returns, over a year after release (and we preordered it, so we had it from the start!). Holly’s still in the middle of that one.

    Or shows. I had to be careful preparing Melissa’s Daredevil posts running here because we’ve only watched the first 9 episodes so far. 13 episode season and we haven’t gotten through it yet. We will, but we haven’t yet. We’re sitting on large amounts of shows we’ve bought DVDs or season passes to that we haven’t watched yet, like Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, and White Collar. Sorry USA network… we’ll get there.

    Maybe the best example is Naruto, a show we started watching together before we even got married, and are still not caught up in. Sure, it has a million episodes, but we’ll binge watch a bunch, and then not come back to it for like 2 years at a time.

    Okay, so two other topics. I just hit on one: Binge watching. There’s lots of talk about this, about how it’s easier to do than ever before, about how it’s being done to a greater extent than ever before, how it’s maybe not great for us. I think binge watching and burnout go hand in hand. You don’t need the one for the other, but it sure helps…

    For another topic, social media. Especially like Tumblr. There I get continually fed images, discussions, and fandom from things long past, things maybe done to death, maybe that I’m too tired of to do anything myself – but it’s still a nice little reminder of the fandom. A little fill-in. But it doesn’t help with getting over burnout! It also contributes a feeling that there are people consistently and constantly obsessing over these things, when really, maybe they’re sharing an image years old that’s just making the rounds. I think tracking burnout through social media would be really hard to do – because sharing is so easy, and preys on nostalgia and fandom both.

    In closing, I actually don’t really like stories ending. It’s something about me. Maybe it’s growing up with comics. I think it’s part of why I have trouble getting really going writing myself – I don’t want it to be over, to be done. Yet even still, I experience burnout. But I don’t mind burnout – it means the story isn’t over yet, it means there’s more for me to go back to. Like visiting an old friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll come back to the rest, but Re: endings. It’s not that I want the story to be “over.” What I want is actual story progression. Growth. Change. Closure of one stage or arc and moving on to another where things actually PROGRESS rather than repeat with characters doing the same things and making the same mistakes for the same reasons or to returning the same plots we thought were over but actually aren’t because the villain isn’t really dead or whatever. (SG-1 was an example of where I DIDN’T burn out because things actually changed and the characters learn from their mistakes. A couple of more recent ones I like for this reason: Longmire and The Paradise. Shorter runs so far, but not repetitive at all, IMHO.) I’d prefer that to “the end” but I don’t see that. I see a lot of repetition and dragging out romantic tensions or plot lines that just never go anywhere. Eventually, it gets boring or fizzles out when there’s a drop in popularity. I don’t want to read 42 novels or watch 12 seasons of the same show where the plot just repeats, couples never get together, and the same quest just gets thwarted endlessly and the characters never really evolve. So I’d rather at least get to “the end, here’s some closure.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Love Longmire! I would add Castle to your list, of shows that have surprised us through change – both character change and storytelling/formula change! Which reminds me I didn’t really even talk about things we’ve dropped. Take a show similar to Castle – Bones. That one lost us for sure. Not near enough change. Also the ever-popular NCIS.

        Some of my problem might be that so many stories are caught up in the big moments in life – be they massive genre heroic epics or romantic comedies. I guess I like the idea that the small, everyday things are happening too. That the world is more complete. That it’s more like our real lives. I think that’s part of the success of Firefly, and why it was canceled. I see it as a slice-of-life show, set in a different time and place. Because that’s not what other shows are like, it got canned.

        I also think this is part of the reason, to go back to one of your examples, I’ve been loving the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which started where you ended: Iron Man). Each movie/show has different characters and plot/story styles, even if people identify common traits (like ending with an aerial battle). Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an utterly different movie from Guardians of the Galaxy, both MCU, both last year.

        Anyway, things should end before they run out of interesting things to do. However, that doesn’t mean I feel the need to move quickly to reach that ending! Two different things I guess πŸ™‚

        Like

        • I’m sure someday when I stop feeling like superheroes are everywhere, I’ll be interested in MCU. But yes, I enjoyed CastleAnd that’s a good way of putting it β€” about the idea of small things happening along with the big moments. Maybe that’s what I feel like is missing from so many things. I’m re-watching M*A*S*H, and I realized that I love it because it’s got all kinds of things happening and changing.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on DBCII and commented:

    Great post – what do you think about burnout for the things you enjoy? I put a lot of thought into it… hence my really long comment!

    Liked by 1 person

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