General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you see entertainment as something to pass the time, or do you want it to be something more?

Asked by wundayatta (58571points) June 22nd, 2010

I asked this question yesterday about the value of entertainment. Now I want to make it a bit more specific. I’m still not exactly sure what I’m getting at, but I hope to know it when I see it.

In yesterday’s question, a number of people mentioned that they thought their work was entertaining. That idea broadens my notion of entertainment to more than I was hoping for. Sure, work can be entertaining, but it also has the goal of creating a product—a product that someone else will want enough to be willing to exchange something of value for it.

Some people do things for fun and end up finding that others want to pay them for what they do for fun. That’s a complicated one. For my purposes, while they do it for fun, it’s entertainment, but as soon as they do it for a customer, it’s work. So if you do something purely for the fun of it—purely to entertain yourself or others—that’s what I think entertainment is for the purposes of this question.

When you are entertained, what do you want out of it? Is it a pleasant way to pass time? Is it a way to engage your mind so fully that it is hard to stop being entertained? Is it a way of communicating to others, like a kind of conversation? Is it a comment about something? Is it educational? Is it motivational? Is it moral?

I guess, for me, entertainment should always have a moral. But finding that moral is up to me, so it is not necessary that the creator of the entertainment had a moral in mind. Still, I feel like the best entertainment should be “uplifting,” a prejudice kind of like comparing a science fiction novel to “literature.” Except, being a fan of SF, I do find it uplifting. It is about making the world a better place, I think. Is a romance novel about making the world a better place? Is every work of art about making the world a better place?

What about video games? Can you argue that video games help improve the world? Do they convey information that can be useful? Many blame video games for a rise in violence amongst young men. Is there any way to see that as a good thing? I would think that in a time of war, it would be good to train fighters as early as possible. Perhaps Orson Scott Card foretold that future in “Ender’s Game.”

Round and round I go. I hope you can see what I’m struggling with. I hope it’s entertaining enough that you actually read this set of details, but we shall see by the answers I get. Everyone’s a critic, especially in a place like this. This is a marketplace of both ideas and ways of expressing those ideas. Maybe that’s entertainment?

Cue the Band Wagon. Cue the ghost of Fred Astaire.

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22 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It needs to be more for me,an escape.I rarely watch tv,and I find it difficult to sit through most movies.I would rather see live music,but even then,I have sat through bad concerts before—Rolling Stones—
I would rather do artwork or be on my boat.Things that don’t require anyone else.

BoBo1946's avatar

Not when i’m the golf course playing for a “little money” with my friends! Not much money passes hands, but it is the principle of thing, you don’t like to lose that little bit of money!

btw, golf is more than entertainment! It is a gentleman’s game with lots of fellowship with good friends!

When i was younger, played lots of tournament golf. Now, just for the fun!

Also, it is a game that you can play for the rest of your life. That is very appealing to retired people like myself!

ucme's avatar

Well for me particularly when it come to sports I see it far more than entertainment.It’s been that way ever since I was a child, both participating in & spectating/following. With football/soccer it’s more of a living breathing entity something which I follow with passion.It can be exhilirating & frustrating in equal measure.Of course in the end it’s just part of my life & firmly put in context with other more weighty issues, but yeah sport is entertainment only far more than that, for me it has to be to maintain my passion.Oh & i’m a pretty sore loser too.Hope i’ve gotten my point across without too much lost in translation as it were.

wundayatta's avatar

@ucme If I understand you correctly, you are saying that sport brings out your passion? If I may extrapolate, does feeling passionate make you feel alive? Like what is happening really matters? Almost life or death? I.e., it’s that important? So participating in and following sports makes you feel like you are doing something that really matters? Almost a meaning of life? I mean the feeling of the meaning of life, if not the actual meaning of life for you? Or do I carry this too far?

marinelife's avatar

I don’t belabor my entertainment with having to have a moral. It just needs to be a pleasant way to pass the time that I am getting something (maybe just enjoyment) out of.

Your separating money from entertainment feels very artificial to me. Because we often, in our culture, pay for entertainment and entertainers are paid. Authors, actors, musicians are all paid.

I also think it is wrong of you to separate work from entertainment. Entertainment can certainly be a secondary purpose of work. What is the line between a hobby and work?

Entertainment can be incredibly simple. I can be entertained just watching the antics of my dogs. I was vastly entertained driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday morning seeing a wild turkey, a turtle, a baby bunny and a mother black bear with her twin cubs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Am I the only one who considers Fluthering entertainment?

marinelife's avatar

@worriedguy Nope. I certainly do.

Cruiser's avatar

For me entertainment is a lot of things from big name entertainers doing their thing to me playing my guitar or watching my rabbit jump around the room. But true entertainment for me is watching people who posses great talent and can express and demonstrate that talent in ways that are interesting and new or at the very least put a new twist on old predecessors works. Blues guitar is tremendously entertaining as a new performer can add their signature to old classics. Seeing something new and different is what is entertaining most to me and this can include all forms of art.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Andreas's avatar

@wundayatta You mentioned literature, so I’ll answer from that point of view. The beauty of literature is that it can be understood from many different points of view; from pure escapism, to full blown social commentary and criticism, especially novels. So the writer writes his tale/account/novel and then we read and get out of it whatever we wish.

Personally, with novels, I get a whole lot of different things. Pure escapism and entertainment, thought provoking arguments to make me think, different points of view to consider, historical facts at times, and maybe other things besides.

Novels are particularly good for that reason because reading is an active pursuit, whereas tv and film is passive, if you want it to be. Reading always needs the eyeballs to be cast over the words, hence it is active. And that’s where our imagination will work its magic, and we will be entertained. Does this help you?

wundayatta's avatar

@Andreas Yes, that is helpful. Thank you.

ucme's avatar

@wundayatta Yeah I think you probably are.As I said it is relative to everything else going on in my life.My kids & my relationship with my wife naturally take precedent in shaping the meaning of my life.Sport as in all entertainment has it’s place but it knows it’s place is secondary however much i’m involved in it.That doesn’t stop me however from absorbing myself in it when the need or the ocassion arises.Time & a place.Still it’s all good.

Coloma's avatar

I thought I answered this question yesterday…hmmm…maybe the cheese has slipped off my cracker.

It’s entertaining to wonder where yesterdays answer went? lol

SABOTEUR's avatar

An excellent question!

I just wish I had an excellent answer. This question has occurred to me as I wonder why I enjoy searching for questions to ask and answer.

There is also an activity I pursue online where members buy and sell people (TAGGED profiles).

Neither activity serves a purpose other than allowing me to do something I like to do.

I guess the why at this point is irrelevant.

Jeruba's avatar

The things I do fall into two classes: things I have to do (“gottas”) and things I choose freely (“wannas”). Now that I’m (semi)retired, “gottas” are mostly household and personal maintenance, as well as the few freelance jobs I choose to do.

As for the things I do with my discretionary time, I would again divide them in two: activities and entertainment. To me, entertainment means only the things that I do passively: I’m a spectator, a listener, a reader. This would include seeing movies (I don’t watch TV at all), attending performances, reading books and magazines, etc. The fact that I am an active, engaged reader doesn’t really change the classification.

If I am doing something—writing, working in the garden, lunching with a friend, playing a game, walking, fluthering—I call it an activity and not entertainment.

So—in the category of entertainment, yes, I expect much more than to pass the time. Time does a good enough job of passing without my speeding it along. I actually prefer entertainments that compress time so I feel like I got more for my investment.

I don’t look for a moral purpose, but I do look for enrichment. I don’t choose to spend my time, for example, on vacuous movies that are good for nothing but a few laughs and two hours killed. I don’t read popular magazines about celebrities (why waste my life reading about how they’re wasting their lives?), nor do I try to keep up with all the news, which plenty of other people are following. I read what interests me. I look for value. I look for meaning.

This doesn’t mean it’s all serious all the time. Far from it. I love to laugh and consider laughter one of my unalienable rights. The older I get, the fewer things there are that aren’t funny. I don’t think a couple can stay married for a long time and raise children to adulthood without being able to laugh a lot.

When there’s meaning, there’s something beyond the obvious. There’s thought, intent, intelligence. There’s something worth thinking about, something that touches me, something that shows me an experience I haven’t had or gives me insight into my own. Anything from deep poetry to a cartoon can have meaning: a spark, a revelation, an animating idea. That’s what I look for in entertainment and in life.

Questions have meaning. Questions and curiosity and following questions and constantly learning are among the great things that enrich my life.

I confer meaning on things by my own thought and understanding, true. But there must be something there to work with: a pumpkin that can become a coach. Whether it’s work or play, activity or entertainment, I want it to be meaning-full.

wundayatta's avatar

Thank you, @Jeruba. You helped clarify some things and, of course, you raised some additional questions. I really appreciated the idea that your want your entertainment to be meaningful (even if you want everything else to be meaningful, too). This raises my next question which is how would you (or anyone else) characterize the meaning they get out of any particular activity (or entertainment, etc). I guess what I’d be looking for is what kinds of meaning do people go for.

You want meaning that enriches your life (which begs the question of what enrichment is). But from what I get of the spirit of your comment, it sounds to me that you want inspiration. Perhaps not any particular kind of inspiration, but certainly something that makes your mind move, or perhaps something that gets you out of your chair and into action.

Well, you have certainly inspired me. I was just sitting here tracking down several questions—mostly having to do with inspiration and finding out how much people require it in various activities in their lives. I guess that I, too, want to be inspired—to care, to be repulsed, to take action, to think, to solve a problem (and there are so many different kinds of problems), and more, I’m sure.

evandad's avatar

Good entertainment is art. A great song can have as much artistic value as a great painting.

Jeruba's avatar

No, I am not looking for inspiration. In fact, what someone labels “inspiring” is more than likely to turn my stomach. I’m also not looking for prompts to action. I thought I explained in the paragraph that begins “When there’s meaning….”

Art is definitely one of the things that have meaning; if it has no meaning, I don’t think I’d call it art (thanks, @evandad). So does personal experience, especially when insightfully interpreted. If a two-hour movie can show me a thought-provoking experience or portray a life in many dimensions, it adds meaning to my own life. Anything that expands my horizons, enlarges my thinking, deepens my understanding, or raises new questions is meaningful.

Again, it’s not all serious. Some of the best cartoons—Gary Larsen’s, for example—involve a shift in point of view. His typical cartoon involves a reversal of some kind. That gives perspective.

Fluther is not empty entertainment because it constantly challenges my thinking with views and experiences different from my own. Your own contributions, @wundayatta, are notable for that effect.

plethora's avatar

@BoBo1946 YIKES!!! How we all do differ. Golf is the most boring pastime on earth for me….and I can barely bear (No, I can’t bear) the notion of being cooped up on the golf course with others indefinitely.

BoBo1946's avatar

@plethora i absolutely love it…once ate, slept, and drank it! Would hit 500 balls before work, 500 more during lunch, and hit 500 before going home. Played 4 or 5 days a week. If i had started young, would have made the tour. Really believe that. But, love to be around friends that I’ve been playing with for 30 years. Like a family! But, thank you for your comment!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I have work to pass the time and entertainment to “live”.

unused_bagels's avatar

When I entertain myself, there’s always some sense of accomplishment, whether it’s watching a show, or reading a book, or something as complex as drawing a comic book. If I’m reading or watching a show, or playing a video game, the accomplishment is small, and is derived from finding out what happened at the end. I try to find entertainment and satisfaction in everything I do (although at work sometimes it doesn’t always work :D )

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