Even When It's Bad, Entertainment Is Good
Many people usually think that the entertainment age just happened but the truth is there was a lot of serious planning that was involved behind the games and fun. This can be traced back to the early decades but was later fuelled by Alfred Cornelius Johnson who wrote a suggestion to the congressman stating that the US government should allocate funds that would be used to hire comedians to perform in the public functions. The comedians were supposed perform for free and get paid by the government. This idea was borrowed from public libraries that are funded by the government where individuals can borrow books without having to pay a cent.
This was a great idea as people were tired of cowboys' shows. The idea however never passed as no one in the government was interested in the proposal. This however changed with time when power changed hands as some leaders saw that it was a worthwhile project. This however had to be done as a secret in the begging where the president at the time ordered people to be trained to tell and write good jokes. With time, the joke industry grew leading to the hiring of more joke writers and training of comedians.
This was a good move as individuals got relief from the jokes they heard and some sick people also claimed that they felt better when they laughed at the jokes. As the comedians and writers were becoming more famous for their jokes they decided to explore their talents to produce the material in masses so that many people would get to see and appreciate their work. This is where books and movies were produced in masses. At first, the equipment used was substandard but with time thanks to technology, these were improved to high tech equipment that produces top notch materials.
It is evident that the entertainment industry is one of the most thriving industries with lots of people pumping in money to produce great materials that individuals use for their amusement. It is also one of the industries that are likely to remain relevant for a long time as there are many creative minds that are introduced to the industry on a regular basis to come up with material that is received well in the market. People also need to be entertained mostly due to the challenges they have to go through on a daily basis thus they need a breather to remain sane as they go through their daily activities.
I support the idea that there are some amazing and obvious examples of pop culture which are mentally challenging, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to call these instances of mental acuity either a general trend or an absolute sum greater than the instances of less than rewarding pop culture. There is more money spent on "mental fluff" movies every year. There is more money spent on "mental fluff" music every year. There is more money spent on "mental fluff" books every year, too. In sheer numbers, the country is choosing stupider and stupider entertainment.
There is a flipside to this, and it is probably the one to which some of us have been more exposed to than the majority of the population who are the ones contributing the most to America's decline. There are the fringes which have become more and more intelligent, questioning, and challenging than any society since antiquity and the renaissance. These fringes are becoming more challenging every second, but numbers wise, they are insignificant. If they were significant, they would be the ones bringing in advertising dollars, not the ones who have to have campaigns to save them from being cut even after they win major critical awards. There are a small and slowly growing number of fringe entertainment outlets which are intelligent, challenging, and creative.
The domination of the media by entertainment conglomerates has a corrosive impact on journalism, blurring the line between news and entertainment to near-invisibility. "Profit pressures produce a dumbing down of journalism," writes former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson. "The media choose content not to educate or inform but to pander to the consumers advertisers most desire." As always, there are exceptions. In the music industry popular demand for edgy, stimulating fare exerts a positive influence on the decision-making of white, middle-aged executives. But by and large, the corporate media have failed spectacularly when it comes to nurturing a democratic and humane society.
Most people learn behavior and language by observation. Conscientious creators of popular entertainment realize that they have a responsibility to broaden and deepen the audience's understanding of themselves. Differentiating between good and bad models is part of that responsibility. The greatest authors, playwrights, and directors have interpreted the world for the audience, helping the public not merely absorb but understand. Unfortunately, a recent desire to depict concrete phenomena has stripped popular culture of its insight into abstract reality. Characters' facile behavior is indistinguishable from responsble conduct. A young person can watch a screen for hours a day without becoming enlightened about how people choose to do what they do, and what other options exist.
We have a tendency to look back and reflect. We look back on what was good, what we hope never happens again and what we were lucky to get away with. With any luck, the good outweighs the bad. In the world of entertainment, it's all good, even when it's bad. In recent days, the news has been full of horrible accounts of tragedy and destruction, making much of what we cover in entertainment meaningless. And while it may be trivial and unimportant in the day-to-day lives of us all, it does provide a respite. A place to point and laugh and shake our heads and forget about the troubles the world throws at us.
Like every year in entertainment, there are highlights and lowlights. But one man's highlight is another woman's "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me." There's something for everyone and hopefully we've all found something that brought a smile to our lips and put a skip in our step. Life can be cruelly short. So enjoy your family, drink in your friends. Take the time to say hello to your barista. Walk the dog. Thank your co-workers for their hard work and collaboration. Get your bucket of popcorn and settle in to watch that movie or TV show. What pleasure life can bring us is worth enjoying.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Entertainment section had turned into the Police Gazette. Sure, celebrities and misbehavior are not a new coupling. Movie comedian Fatty Arbuckle was the subject of a celebrated trial in the 1920s. (He was found not guilty, but his career was ruined.) Lana Turner and her daughter mixed it up with the rough Johnny Stompanato, who ended up dead at the hand of the daughter. And you could fill a book with the list of rock stars who have wrecked automobiles, been busted for drugs or fooled around with the wrong partner.
Gossip rags (and, for that matter, much of the news media) make their living off these peccadilloes. Celebrities do stupid things; the rest of us ogle the fallen famous like rubbernecking speeders. Too often the transgressions become the butt of jokes, whether due to schadenfreude or there-but-for-the-grace-of-God.
But the crimes Jackson (sexual molestation) and Spector (murder) are accused of are no laughing matter. Indeed, given their talent and their accomplishments, if they are guilty, their fates reach the level of tragedy, sad codas to the lives of people who have given so much joy.
Joy, in fact, was often in short supply in the entertainment world, which is not at all what entertainment is about. To be sure, art reflects the times, but it's as if the anger, misery and cynicism of the world at large had overflowed its channels, leaving escapism a little less worthy of escape.
Political bitterness spilled over into entertainment in the form of the Dixie Chicks, who were pilloried for the criticisms of the Iraq war and President Bush leveled by lead singer Natalie Maines. Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California and won, which was as much an expression of political dissatisfaction as it was a triumph for the Terminator.
Bob Hope and Johnny Cash - titans both - died. Talented performers are beloved by the public and influential across genres and generations. Madonna and Britney Spears shared a kiss. This gave a thrill to the prurient 14-year-olds of the world, but for two women who have built their careers on shrewd marketing, the act smacked of desperation, given that the pair's record sales are down (and Madonna's new career as a children's book author has met with generally poor reviews). Could make-out sessions on the Home Shopping Channel be far behind?
The biggest-grossing movie of 2003 was "Finding Nemo," a delightful tale from the wizards at Pixar that proved, once and for all, that all the best writers are working in animation. (TV already knew that: "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and "South Park" are witty testimony to that fact.) At its best, entertainment provides joy and transcendence, a sense that humans can achieve great things and that we're all in this together. Sometimes the world isn't a pleasant place, but there's always the hope that the story can have a happy ending.
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