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Is Today’s Entertainment Harmful? Yes
In my book about romantic culture I like to explain the etymologies of many Latin-based words, which we use in the Romance languages as well as in the English language. This doesn’t only help us to understand the true meaning of these words it also helps us to understand how these words relate to our real life experience. After all the purpose of these words is to define and record an enlightened understanding of our human experience. These words enable us to share this enlightenment with future generations.
One of those words whose meaning I often clarify with modern people is the word entertainment. This word is composed of the two words entre tener, which if you’re familiar with Latin or Spanish you’ll understand means “in between having” or “in between being in possession of”. Latin words often require you to fill in the blanks in their definitions so we’ll fill in for the blanks here. What this word effectively means is that you are in between doing something worthwhile and important.
Life in a civilization has always involved doing important things with your time. Whether this is laboring in order to produce items of mass consumption or commissioned works of art or architecture, trading and doing business in a free market or maintaining and further cultivating your relationships or what we now call your social network. Life in a civilization is dominated by productive activity. This kind of productive activity is what creates a civilization and it’s what keeps it going and growing, so these activities are of the highest importance. People didn’t putz around in a civilization in other words – they had places to be and people to see.
But when you did find yourself with free time, because you found yourself in between doing something important, then you would become a spectator to “entertainment”. This entertainment activity would be of less importance to you than the regular activities in your life. It took the lowest priority since it was a wasteful activity to make use of a remnant of your time. Now if you were part of the lower class who was not accustomed to doing important things with your time then entertainment might become the highlight of your day. However it was still an activity that is a waste of time.
This view of entertainment had always been the case in Western culture, but with Western decadence and with the gradual disintegration of Western values and our language has come the dangerous notion that entertainment is an important activity in our lives. It has come to be viewed as a satisfying activity when before the satisfying activities of your life were productive activities.
Entertainment has come to be viewed as so important and overwhelmingly satisfying that it is now seen as valid to sacrifice activities like being productive, learning new things, cultivating your character or your relationships all in order to spend more time on entertainment activities like watching videos, being on social media or playing video games. These entertainment activities are all essentially a waste of time because they don’t provide us with any real long-term satisfaction since they don’t contribute toward the production of anything real in our lives. They only grant us with momentary pleasure, which itself is not conducive to building anything truly worthwhile.
The entertainment industry, because it has become a part of the service economy whose activities are now subject to the speculation of Wall Street and investors, has taken a new and greater role in our lives as a result of the support lent to them by Wall Street and profit-minded investors. Works of entertainment are now subject to the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. This has enabled production quality to skyrocket leading to visually impressive and mesmerizing works of entertainment. In the past the greatest amount of wealth invested in productions was the passion and dedication invested by of those producing the work; it was evident that there was more heart than money invested in these old works.
Anybody from the older generations would admit that the aesthetics or special effects of earlier works of entertainment were a bit cheesy and unbelievable. Their real value however was found in their sincerity and in a certain passion which their creators transmitted to audiences. In this way works of entertainment were almost an intimate social experience (between the creators and the viewer).
The flaws of these works also had a way of reminding us that while partaking in this entertainment may have felt satisfying it was still a silly, unimportant activity that did not compare with all the other more important activities in our lives. These works were not so mesmerizing, ownerous and engaging that they created disruption in the routine of our civil daily lives. The older generations become concerned with the fate of the young when they find that the routine of the civil life, which has supported our civilization for hundreds of years, would become interrupted and threatened by something so petty as (modern) entertainment.
No one can stop investors or Wall Street from dumping billions of dollars into the various entertainment businesses that churn out these predatory products that seek to dominate our lives at any cost simply so that they can turn a profit for the few. However we can relearn our language, come to realize what words like entertainment mean and restore their meaning in our lives, thereby enabling us to restore a healthy, civil routine back into our existence.
Has entertainment impacted society for the better or for the worse?
© 2017 Ariana Gonzalez Hernandez