Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Want You.. Entertainment!

First, I need to make fun of Miriam-Webster. When preparing for this discussion, I first Googled the word “entertainment,” a nice million or so hits for E!entertainment news, nothing useful. So I amended my search criteria to “entertainment concept,” the result was a plethora of budding, aspiring, and failing entertainment companies. A switch to Google Scholar provided dozens of documents relating to various business aspects of the entertainment industry. I gave up. Moving on to Miriam-Webster online, a quick search for “entertainment” here provided me with a jewel of dissent in what is a clear violation of the first rule of vocabulary; never use the word you’re defining in the definition of that word.

Definition “1: the act of entertaining,” the later definitions are less disappointing. Oh the agony! If you take the time to click on the definition of entertaining, it provides a regrettable “providing entertainment” as an answer. A quick stop by Wikipedia shows the greater value of an open source encyclopedia, though the article does not meet Wikipedia’s quality standards, the first sentence sums up entertainment in far better terms than all of the other venues I attempted on the internet.

However, all of this is far from the actual point. Our culture is one based on a need to be entertained. And that may be an understatement. What drives this? Marketing, the wheel of capitalism is turning. It demands that you buy more, buy bigger, and buy faster. While I would make no secret of my disdain for the capitalist system, I have yet to see anything that works any better. But I find it troubling that the method of fiscal advancement is now based solely on owing money. I borrow from you, you from him, him from them, them from the others and so on.

I wonder where this system becomes terminal, I mean, at what point does the money I owe guy two become the money owed me by guy eleven? It doesn’t, but one can wish right?

Returning to the point, why all the effort to entertain? Haven’t we become apathetic because of overexposure? I mean really, don’t we just lose interest until something more exciting, racy, or intense comes along? What’s the point of it? The cycle has to become finite at some point.

Think carefully on this, before you lies the greatest archive of information ever yet conceived; the internet. You want politics, try CSPAN.com. You want trivial information, try Wikipedia.com. Video feeds, Youtube.com. Need new music, Pandora.com. Anything else, try the variety of search options Google provides. The possibilities are endless; and I have a challenge for you. Use any reference group on the internet and observe the progression of entertainment over time.

For this experiment we’re grouping all the mediums together, through the internet we can just as easily call up Shakespeare’s Macbeth as we can last week’s episode of The Daily Show; and with approximately the same amount of effort. There is something that I think should be seen here, and that is that with each generation the lines blur, the scenes become more graphic, comedy more crass, the gore more real, and so on.

Spend a few hours watching children’s cartoons, take notice of the innuendos. There are allusions to addiction, sexuality, and a whole variety of deviant behaviors. Not that any of this is new, just that in a modern sense it is becoming more commonplace. I know as many potheads as I do five year olds that get a kick out of SpongeBob. But that, in and of itself, is not the point.

The point is that we are reaching a terminal state; a point where we can no longer back away from the bombardment. And it is our duty to do something about it. I say this because we do affect things. We are the power core that drives this society. We need to pay attention. And we need to stand together.
-James C.