Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 9, 2014

SINGER: A look at the 'entertainment society'

Niagara Gazette — We live in an entertainment society and too often succumb to, endure and in some ways, suffer from what might be called entertainment overload. Stories about the stars and their most trivial style choices, likes and dislikes crowd out more serious events and developments. In the 19th century Lord Palmerston made a remark about surviving our amusements, but he should have beheld today’s scene in that regard!

Due to such an ambiance, even when something serious occurs and gets reported on, it frequently becomes done to death in the media, trivialized by repetitive superficiality — exactly as befits an “entertainment society.” How do we survive this addictive kind of atmosphere? What effect does its collective weight have upon us?

Because for much of human history, diversions were but short, sweet breaks — carnival time or saints’ days, fairs or Sunday picnics, weddings or baptisms. Versus the current world where life is filled almost constantly with vicariously imbibed fun and games, right down to the music that’s piped in everywhere these days.

The current entertainment culture, I believe, has superficialized us, exacerbating our impatience, not least in endless surfing with the TV remote. We want to be entertained in every bite, and there’s always another channel, another choice, another snippet to be sought — “snippetitis” is my word for the activity engendered by all this.

We’re becoming loaded down and colonized by this well-nigh constant entertainment culture. Even if we confine ourselves to old movies, TV shows, or music, we’ve all become walking cognitive museums in the process. Yes, that’s what we now are — vicarious entertainment museums, and jangling ones at that! Put another way, we’re all snippety Wikipedias!

And yet ... I do find it marvelous when I visit my daughter’s family and can play old favorites on YouTube for the grandchildren — Dinah Washington’s “September in the Rain” or her duets with Brook Benton; Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and so on — jumping decades, hitting buttons, establishing traditions on these visits.

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