Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Entertainment Culture

Who knows what the measure of a society’s decadence is?  Can such a thing be measured?  Does their entertainment reflect their values or does it raise the bar (or lower the standards) of what is acceptable in entertainment?

One thing can be certain: never before in the history of man has there ever been a civilization that is so entertained and so obsessed with being entertained.  We have movies, television, books, radio, music, Internet, speed dating, casual dating, bars, video games, dance clubs, strip clubs, magazines, dirty magazines, comedy clubs, restaurants, fast-food restaurants, playgrounds, theme parks, lakeside homes, summer homes, boats, jet skis, cruises, airbuses, etc.  The list goes on and on about all the things that are designed to not make our lives better but to simply keep our minds occupied and to forget our troubles and worries of day to day life.

But does entertainment reflect our own decadence or does it contribute to it?  I really could not tell you the answer nor do I think there is a simple answer to this question.  This is largely because of the large scope of entertainment.  When it comes to the primary mediums of entertainment in our culture, television and the Internet, it really could go either way.  In the ratings driven networks, the moral boundaries are often pushed until the shades of gray are gray themselves and we do not know which side is up or down.  There has been an alarming number of movies and television shows that glorify vigilantism, which I view as a dangerous route to take.  I am all for defending your family and your home from harm, but to openly seek out criminals is another matter altogether.

Of course sex is a huge controversial subject and it always will until mankind passes beyond the need for it through the power of God.  There are definitely forms of it that are simply unacceptable and there is some that are considered acceptable.  I think this is one of those areas where the ratings driven entertainment industry has pushed the envelope a lot where many shows could be considered borderline pornography.  Some of the ones that appear on the premium channels are nothing more than that with a more complex plot and better paid actors.  Because they have pushed the envelope, I think many things have become widely more accepted by mainstream society.  I know there was a movement among gay rights groups within the Hollywood culture to make such practices more acceptable.  I generally do not have a problem with homosexuals, but when any group decides to dictate to me that immoral actions are just and upright, I tend to take serious issues with it (hate mail would come from this if anyone ever read my blog).

I think our society is over-entertained and it is probably suffocating us morally.  When I canceled my cable television service and just kept the Internet, I never realized how much time I was wasting watching television.  I still watch television shows I like, but it is more controlled now and it does not disrupt my schedule as I have plenty of time to watch what I want when I want (or can).  It also allows me to cut back on the shows I do watch, as I no longer see promotional commercials for them and I do not get all hyped up about watching a show I probably should not bother with.  I actually plan on slowly weeding out many of the shows I have been watching and I do not plan on picking up new shows.

So what do I do when I not trying to get mindless entertainment?  I get “mindful” entertainment.  I read a book or I read up online about the issues that matter.  I talk to my wife.  Most importantly, I find myself more and more above the corrupting influence of the television culture (although there is still a long way to go on that note).  I do not believe that television is evil.  It is just a waste of time. 

In any case, I think we should all be more mindful of the entertainment we consume every day.  I do not have a problem with being entertained, but at the same time I think our society is addicted to it.  Sometimes things are just better boring.