Entertaining Ourselves to Death

The title of this post is the sort of thing that usually comes to mind when I’ve just done something like watch an entire season of Doctor Who over four days or something. However, yesterday I watched the music video “Friday” by Rebecca Black, and spent the evening before that watching Tommy Wiseau’s The Room with some friends. Yes, there was Scotchka and spoon-throwing.

Both of these pieces of entertainment, quite frankly, suck.

At time of writing, however, Black’s music video has received 100,534,819 views. Over ONE HUNDRED MILLION. As well, people are spending a lot of time and energy in mocking this terrible, terrible music video. The only such one I’ve read is likely the best.

And people organise entire nights to watch The Room with their friends. The entire purpose is to make fun of it, and the cult surrounding Tommy Wiseau has us all doing things like throwing spoons every time we see spoon art, or chanting “Go, go, go, go, go …” during the excessively long and meaningless pan of the Golden Gate Bridge, or yelling, “See ya, Denny!” And so forth.

We have grown so desperate to entertain ourselves that we will watch, rewatch, and then meticulously critique big piles of crap simply because it amuses us. This is somewhat remarkable. Usually, if hordes of people willingly interacted with a piece of bad art to enjoy themselves (*cough* The Da Vinci Code *cough*), they at least  liked the p.o.s.

I think this may be a sign of the decay of our culture. We have drunk deep from the well of Nirvana: “Here we are now, entertain us.”

Nevertheless, there is more to life than entertainment — even good entertainment! There is more to life than entertaining ourselves at any cost, even if that cost is a mere 2 h of raucous mockery of Tommy Wiseau’s inability to create a plot, or only a few minutes of shuddering at Rebecca Black’s autotuned voice.

Take in some real art. Let it absorb you. Let it transform you. Allow it to act upon  you. This, I think, will be a radically different experience than most of us — self included — tend to have when entertaining ourselves.

Mind you, proper recreation is worthwhile. I am a firm believer in the Tarzan Principle. Perhaps I’ll blog about that next. Nonetheless, if we’re so hellbent on entertaining ourselves, at least do it with something worth our time! And even try to improve ourselves while we’re at it.


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