Thought as Entertainment

Observation: I find myself as much entertained by thoughtful participatory activities, such as web design and programming, philosophical thinking, architectural design and choral singing, as I am by the “typical” entertainment activities (film, TV, listening to music).

Discussion: There are several ways of looking at entertainment, only one of which the corporate world has been transfixed with for a long time – that with a producer and a consumer. The producer, often based in Hollywood, or some other such remote place to most of the world, will generate ideas for stories, comedy shows, films, characters and brands. They then film them, produce merchandise for them, create spin-offs.  And then they sell their ideas, via intermediaries (cinemas, TV stations, chain stores), to “the consumer”, that magical entity that always has money to burn and is oh so willing to burn it.

There are a great many alternatives to this model, in many of which the beneficiaries are not just passive “consumers”, but participants. They involve creativity, engagement and, to some extent, commitment.  The relationships  that one enjoys with a significant other, children, parents and friends, have all taken commitment and engagement. We enjoy activities such as gardening, music-making, art or computer programming because of the creativity that is involved and the beautiful result. But those are the more obvious ones. In many cases, work itself is entertainment.  The best salesmen see the process as a competitive game, where their motivation is not the commission, but the feeling when the sale has been “won”. For others, it is the more subtle problem-solving aspect of work that is entertaining – balancing the needs of the interested parties in a transaction, and the satisfaction when all come out with what they want.  It is not the type of entertainment that is laugh out loud funny, but quiet, often serious (even solemn) and contemplative.

The idea that entertainment only comes from TV sets and football stadiums is an illusion, enhanced by the media (the beneficiaries of such a model), and it is an illusion that is damaging, because it restricts the world’s richest resource – our ideas. When we ship our hard-earned cash overseas to international “entertainment producers”, we get very little of significance in return, and lose the time we spent in watching those shows, or travelling to that international pop concert. Not only do we lose the time for our minds to be occupied by our own creative ideas and thoughts during these times, they are occupied by someone else’s ideas, who then has the power to manipulate them, advertise to them, to change them. We are given opinions, rather than being allowed the opportunities to think them for ourselves. Further to these damaging properties, this model denies the consumer the opportunity to gain the intimate respect that one can have of the great talent they are witnessing.  Such an intimate respect can only be generated when talent is visible amongst our own acquaintances, some of whom may work very hard gaining, developing and then using their skills, but never be given the opportunity to show them.

So where does this lead us?  Should we reject TV and football as entertainments of a bygone era and start afresh?  No!  But it is essential to remain balanced, and not to just pass the time passively consuming entertainment when that same time could be used productively, enhancing the life satisfaction of both that person, and any others who are affected, a reward which will lead to a lot more overall improved well-being than the individual experiences of “being entertained” on the part of the consumers.

Conclusion: Embrace the idea that the best entertainment is participatory, and may involve intense thought, creativity, engagement and commitment. Do not deny the mind the opportunity to think and make decisions for itself, rather than consuming (and reinforcing) the opinions and ideas of the international entertainment producers.

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One Comment

  1. Erik Buitenhuis
    Posted 8 June, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Should we reject TV and football as entertainments of a bygone era and start afresh? Yes!

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