Friday, July 31, 2015

A world of entertained fools

Do we really put our money where our mouth is?

The writer of a letter to the Statesman Journal notes that we are "a nation of fools":
We, the American people voluntarily pay professional athletes more than we pay the president. We pay entertainers more than we pay doctors and nurses and school teachers. We are a nation of fools. We are getting exactly what we deserve.
He is terribly wrong.  We are not a nation of fools.  We are a world full of fools.  People all over the world seem to want to be entertained 24x7, and are willing to pay gazillions to entertainers of all kinds.  What the hell is wrong with us?

This global pattern is one that Forbes wisely recognized in its latest listing of the world's highest paid entertainers:

Who the hell is Channing Tatum and why is he/she earning that much?  Now, that question by itself says a lot about how much I am willing to pay to be entertained!

A quick detour on this Channing Tatum.  Turns out it is a he!

The need to be entertained is so pervasive that ... hey, hey, don't go away.  Come back and read the rest of this post! ;)

Like I was saying, the need to be entertained is so pervasive that educators have for a long time complained that education has been degraded to edutainment.  Even church pastors have found the need to make their sermons entertaining so that the few who do come continue to do so.

It is almost as if serious inquiries, whether it is secular or religious approaches to understanding the human condition, have to compete against entertainment of various kinds: from traditional ball games, to video games, to movies and television, to ... Heck, apparently people will rather be so entertained by the freaky weirdness of a couple having nineteen kids that they would willingly support the "characters" now that the multi-million dollar contract has been canceled!

Perhaps entertainment is all about escapism.  To try to run and hide from that one thing that awaits us all: death.  The fear of mortality.  Instead of dealing with it, maybe people prefer to be entertained.  If only they knew how rewarding it is to read and think about death itself that there is no time for "entertainment"!


Anne in Salem said...

I would venture to guess that 95% of your female students and the majority of your male students know of Channing Tatum. "Gladiator" is not entertainment. It is bloody, gory and violent, none of which I find entertaining. I suppose it is like humor - to each, his own.

Entertainment has its place in a full and balanced life, just as more serious pursuits (though I am not sure where reading and thinking about death fit). For most, entertainment is escapism from the seriousness of life - work, bills, health, aging parents, kids, etc. Some people spend enough of their days worrying (even if it is a waste of creativity - nice mural), that they don't want to spend their limited free time pondering the great issues of the universe, like whether idiots hanging from a bridge in Portland will make any difference at all or whether Hillary Clinton is an uber-hypocrite when she talks about income disparity to people who barely make ends meet. Perhaps those who choose silly entertainment over anything serious are so tired, mentally and physically, from treading water that they haven't the energy for more serious pursuits. Perhaps such satisfying and edifying discussions happen only among those who have (or make) time for more than work and mindless viewing. Perhaps serious inquiries are a luxury available only to the 5%.

Sriram Khé said...

So, I am guessing you are not a Hillary Clinton fan ... muahahahaha

I would bet everything that I have on a notion that people in the past led everyday lives that were a lot more physical and emotional struggle than is the case for those "treading water" in the contemporary world. And that despite those everyday struggles, people in the past spent time on the seious inquiries. Well, ok, they did that mostly out of a fear of god and the priests who had the direct access to god! And the everyday reality of kids and adults dying scared the sh*& out of them.
Now, we take it for granted that we will lead long lives and that death comes sometime much later. And there are a lot more entertainment options than the world has ever known. "God-fearing" is not even an expression anymore. A dangerous combination that has led to people willing, wanting, to spend their "free" time on all kinds of entertainment. In fact, studies show that people even sacrifice their sleep in order to entertain themselves!!!

Ramesh said...

I thought of composing a comment, but after reading Anne's, I cannot do better. So I will simply endorse everything she says.

I will only chastise you soundly for the most absurd statement I have ever read - " If only they knew how rewarding it is to read and think about death itself that there is no time for "entertainment"!

Sriram Khé said...

I suppose after America outsourcing quite a bit to India, it is only fitting for an Indian to outsource all the commenting to an American .... muahahahahahaha ;)

Note that I wrote "how rewarding" it will be--not "how entertaining" it will be ... death is not to be afraid of, my friend. It is not something that should not be talked about. Instead, welcome it. Treat it as a part of every day life. Very rewarding you shall find it to be ;)

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