I was reading a blog by a former porn actress who now blogs about the harsh realities of the business, and came across a quote from a filmmaker that stuck with me: “It’s entertainment.” which actually answered a lot of questions I had, such as “how is it possible for some women to actually enjoy some of the things you might see
them doing, rather, being done to them?” Not really the point of this post, but it got me looking at “entertainment” a lot differently.
I watch a lot of movies over weekends, and viewing it through that lens really changes it. I hate that the story telling seems to be less important, while there are some good stories, than the CGI, mechanized, pyrotechnic, gun-shootout, car chasing, swordfighting action sequences. Mostly the story comes across as interstitial to the action sequences.
But it’s not just movies. A documentary about the plight of orcas in captivity at what are basically elaborate zoos came out recently, and it got me thinking, man has kept wild animals in captivity for entertainment at least since Roman times, when they’d, well, you know, pit wild animals against Christian slaves, or gladiators, or whatever. Man’s capacity for gruesome brutality for entertainment is pretty immense. I guess maybe in the scope of time, a violent movie is a much tamer way of relieving the same boredom that probably was a lot more intense in pre-industrialized civilisation.
There’s another aspect, and that is, entertainment has probably always been used for political purposes. Thinking about converting to Christianity in ancient Rome? Hey, did you see the show last weekend? Governments in recent times have always found ways to subsidize the film industry, whether it was the great rush to provide state tax breaks to hollywood fleeing California, or federal grants for making films that dealt positively with whatever’s on the federal government’s agenda. (Pretty sure obamacare falls under that, but I don’t have time to look it up). The government is expert at hiding where the money goes, and for what, (as again, the recent obamacare rollout demonstrates: delaying parts of the law’s implementation for political reasons, etc.),
One of the movies I watched over the weekend was about Charlie Chaplin, who was eventually deported for his political views. Just as a for instance, of how politicians try to get their grip on the most potent of propaganda machines.
update: from this morning’s Wall Street Journal:
“We know from research that when people watch entertainment television, even if they know it’s fiction, they tend to believe that the [information] is actually factual.”