Entertainment Wars: Are We Really Entertaining Ourselves to Death?
If we all focused on entertaining ourselves and others, the world would be a much better place. As Mark Cohen says in RENT's "La Vie Boheme" by Jonathan Larson, "The opposite of war isn't peace - it's creation!" Neil Postman and others (particularly religious groups) may say that we are "amusing ourslves to death," but that is not always the case. Sure, we as a society may be inundated with various forms of entertainment media that we do not need, but amusement is one of the vital necessities of mankind. It may not be as high on the list as food, shelter, and love, but it serves a basic function that we cannot do without. While the media has blown it out of proportion and given it a bad name, the value of entertainment ought not be the subject of so much scritiny.
Writers live to create. Our creations may take on many forms and serve various purposes, but the downfall of society is not typically one of them. It is not enough to simply alleviate boredom - we create meaning with our work and either keep it to ourselves or share it with the world. Fatal incidents of failed re-enactments and the debatable psychological effects of violent content aside, entertainment doesn't kill people - wars do. While some people worry that too much entertainment distracts us from the more important world events, I would have to disagree as to the extent of this problem. There are bad people in this world who do bad things, and it is up to certain people to see that they are stopped. However, when concerning ourselves with the human condition, the common denominator is entertainment. We all need a distraction from time to time, either to alleviate sadness or boredom, and some need it a lot more often. Entertainment also comes in many forms, so technology does not necessarily have to be a factor.
Hedonistic behavior is debatable depending on the specific activity being denounced by certain religious groups. It's all based on perspective, with one person's opinion pitted against that of another. I posit that a specific pursuit can only be defined as hedonistic when the person engaging in such an activity recognizes it as such and continues participating in it with no desire to stop or with a legitimate line of defense. Creative writing is not a hedonistic practice, nor is sharing it with the world in any form, even if we are tempted to live vicariously through our characters.
An entertainment-based society would not be a utopia by any means. As I pointed out in a previous hub, people can be quite to each other on message boards and comments pages. The difference would be that we do not go into literal wars over differences of opinion. Wars fought only in the form of words falls within the realm of debate and politics, and that should be enough of a war zone for anybody. Weapons would be best left out of the equation entirely. Still, we cannot change the fact that they exist; the difference between the real world and storytelling is that characters do not engage in real acts of violence because they act within a fiction. In sum, amusement cannot erase hardship, but it can help ease the pain and give some people something to live for.