Are you obsessed with today’s date: 11.11.11? If you are, it’s OK. The number 11.11.11 is a classic example of apophenia, the human urge to see patterns in essentially random events. And the apophenia of today’s date is rare. In fact, the day comes around only once every 100 years, meaning today is the only time many people will be alive to experience the unique date.
So, in honor of the rarity, the spectacle, the phenomenon, the mystery…we’ve put together a quick little list of our Top 11 Most Overplayed, Insignificant, Hyped Events in History.
Number One: Y2K
In 1999, the world braced for chaos as midnight approached. Would world computer systems crash when the calendar switches over to 2000? The problem, as some saw it, was that older computers still being used for critical functions might break down when the date switched from 99 to 00, since the numeric progression convention, programmed to store data using only the last two digits of any given year, wouldn’t recognize the logic of a century change.
As far as these computers were concerned, it would be 1900, not 2000. How much data might be lost as the result of this 100-year miscalculation was the great, unanswered question.
But, alas, the clock struck midnight, and 1999 passed into history with barely a whimper.
Number Two: Judgment Day
Harold Camping, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, predicted, based on his interpretations of the Bible, that the world was undoubtedly coming to an end in late May 2011. And, he was calling for each person to reassess their lives for Judgment Day when Jesus Christ himself was coming back from the Heavens.
Billboards, bus stop benches and traveling caravans of RVs from Bridgeport, Conn., to Little Rock, Ark., were used to spread the word.
Clearly, Judgment Day came and went without the apocalypse Camping predicted. But, don’t worry. He reset the date for October 21, claiming a small miscalculation. However, it’s clear, he’s just bat-shit crazy, because that day came and went without incident for most, too.
Number Three: The Casey Anthony Murder Trial
Once upon a time there was a 22-year-old mother, Casey Anthony. She was torn between her partying lifestyle and a father who reportedly abused her. But, on a fateful day in June 2008, her 2-year-old died. Unassuming Casey was put on trial for her baby’s murder, and the media circus that surrounded it was unfounded. Details about the case filled the television airwaves and the world wide web. Casey didn’t report her daughter missing for a month, all the while partying with friends. Those pictures of her in that skanky dress dancing on a table must have been shown thousands of times. From the duct tape with the sticker that fell off to the DNA from her truck where she was accused of keeping baby Calee for days, the events of that mysterious death got eerier and eerier, which only drew in more and more hype.
After six weeks of listening to Nancy Grace yell at the television cameras over this, the jury was in and Caylee’s fate was determined. The Not Guilty verdict shot through the country in shock and in surprise. Some people gathered in protest of the non-conviction, aghast that someone could get away with murder. But, most people said, the case was just too hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and sided with the jurors. Most everyone involved in the case went into hiding. Reports of jurors being threatened became the next day’s news. Caylee herself is residing in a mystery location unable to return to her home in Florida for fear she will be killed. And, now, every trial that hits Twitter is compared to Casey’s…as if every murderer is going to get away with it from now on.
Number Four: Celebrity Weddings
Number Five: Celebrity Divorces
Can’t have one without the other.
Number Six: Hurricane Irene
Earlier this summer, an all-out Mega Storm was tearing its way through the Atlantic Ocean. Weathermen and women everywhere practiced how to stand, talk, and report while being beat up by heavy winds and rain. Hurricane Irene was on her way and she was ready to do some damage.
For days, local newscasters tracked Irene’s path, adjusting her course each and every hour, it seemed. They were preparing for Armageddon.
But, the fateful day came, and alas not even a rain drop in much of the Southeast. Armageddon averted (at least for our area).
Number Seven: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Something Else Ridiculous
In the interest of maintaining a capitalist society, we must accept the fact that sometimes we will make purchases that are frivolous, almost against our will, under the guise that it is for our own good. One continually frivolous purchase for movie geeks is the seemingly unending amount of re-re-re-releases, as South Park’s re-release parody episode put it.
But, by far the most over-hyped re-release came in 2008 when George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford teamed up after a staggering 19-year hiatus to release Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Now, don’t get us wrong, the movie was a runaway box office success, grossing over $786 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of the franchise, the second highest-grossing film of 2008 and the third highest-grossing film ever produced by Lucasfilm when not adjusted for inflation, after Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
But, the hype and movie marketing left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of critics and die-hard fans. Paramount spent at least $150 million to promote the film, whereas most film promotions range from $70-100 million. Licensing deals include Expedia, Dr. Pepper, Burger King, M&M’s and Lunchables. Paramount sponsored an Indiana Jones open wheel car for Marco Andretti in the 2008 Indianapolis 500, and his racing suit was designed to resemble Indiana Jones’ outfit. The distributor also paired with M&M’s to sponsor the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, with NASCAR driver Kyle Busch behind the wheel, in the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway. Kyle Busch and the #18 team won the race and visited victory lane with Indiana Jones on the car.
But, alas the hype wore off and Indy 4 was given a Razzie Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. The film was also voted by Comcast as 11th worst movie sequel of all time. Paste magazine ranked the movie 10th on its list “The 20 Worst Sequels to Good Movies.” Listverse.com ranked the movie 8th on its list of the “Top 10 Worst Movie Sequels.”
Number eight: Cuban Missile Crisis
In September 1962, Cuban and Soviet governments placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. And, after U.S. Military Intelligence discovers them, the U.S. government goes to hype-ville and does all it can to ensure their removal. Height in tensions was reached on October 14th, when missile bases were observed being built in Cuba. Havoc ensued.
Filled with fear and the inevitable consequence of war at this time, from childhood to adulthood, the population had its imagination filled with nuclear holocaust. Imaginations ran wild in the minds of many Americans.
“Operation Alert” was started, school children were forced to do nuclear bomb drills, and bunkers were built and filled with food and water to ensure a safe place to live during the fall out.
Two weeks later, Soviets agree to dismantle the missiles in exchange for a no-invasion agreement. And, alas, there was no fall out.
During the crisis’ peak, the public’s thoughts were on the international situation and atomic war, but public was not traumatized by events. Fact is, only 11% said their lives during that week differed from most weeks due to the Cuban situation. There was little evidence of widespread stress or anxiety. The Presidential approval rate rose 13-15% and, miraculously, expectations of a world war declined, and hope for peaceful agreements between U.S. and Soviets increased.
How’s that for an anomaly?
Number nine: Carolina Snow Days
Carolina winters are not known for being wrought with devastating weather.
But, it never fails, every single year, there’s that day that weather-casters get their snow day hard-ons and it’s all over for any sort of productivity after that. Schools are canceled, day care closes up shop, government offices shut their doors and we all wait.
Wait for the snow.
And, although most of the time it does come, the amount of snowfall hardly amounts to the over-reaction of businesses and city officials. So, everyone gets the day off of whatever they do to play around in one-inch of muddy, wet, slush.
Number ten: Oprah’s Farewell Season and Subsequent Network
After seeing the talk-show diva on the tube every weekday at 4 p.m. for decades, Oprah shocked fans (and sponsors) when she announced the 2010-2011 season would be her last. But, she wasn’t going down without a big, fat, ridiculous, party. Surprise guests, insane giveaways, heartwarming interviews and product-placement galore, Oprah’s Farewell Season was nothing short of spectacular. But, what was the day-time darling going to do next? That’s what all the hype was about. She discussed it, cried about it, celebrated it and teased it to death during her final shows…it was to be her very own Network. OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, launched this past spring 2011 and let’s just say, it wasn’t what everyone thought. As a matter of fact, the ratings for the network were lower than Discovery Health, the network it replaced.
According to the adult viewership demographics:
- Total Day Avg. viewership: Down 20%
- Total Day Women 18-34 viewership: Down 32%
- Total Day Women 18-49 viewership: Down 24%
- Total Day Women 25-54 viewership: Down 15% (likely the ad target demo for OWN)
- Total Day Adults 18-49 viewership: Down 25%
OUCH! Maybe everything the Big O touches doesn’t turn to gold.
And, finally, Number eleven: Today
Paradigmsearch.com sums it up best:
11*11*11: There are three possible scenarios:
1. Something good happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something good will happen is based solely on spiritualism, faith, and/or innate optimism. This belief is not necessarily a bad thing; we don’t know everything; the probability is not zero.
2. Nothing happens— This is the most likely scenario. Just because an unusual date number sequence occurs doesn’t mean that something extraordinary will happen. Usually it’s a non-event.
3. Something bad happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something bad will happen is based solely on pessimism of reality. This belief is not necessarily false; after all, things are generally/usually a mess. The probability is not zero.
So, there you have it, folks. Our Top 11 List. Are their any other events you can think of that were ridiculously overplayed? Leave them in the comments below!