Saturday, July 22, 2006

Obsessed with Entertainment

A recent article in Los Angeles Magazine posed the following question: do gossip TV shows like "Entertainment Tonight" and "Access Hollywood" satisfy some "primitive urge" within people? Presumably, the primitive urge would be idolizing the rich and famous. Who are the rich and famous covered by these shows? Primarily entertainers. This question made me laugh because it assumes that entertainment has been universally valued in the same way that it is in our current culture.

I sometimes wonder why professional athletes and actors/actresses are by far the highest paid people in our society. Even if you buy the argument that entertainment has been valued across cultural and historical lines, the disparity that exists today seems tremendous. If I'm lucky, I might make, in my lifetime, what Shaq has made this past season. Not that I have anything against Shaq, but he doesn't seem that crucial to our society.

How many men read the sports page (online or newspaper) before the actual headlines (if they even read the headlines at all)? How many people would prefer to spend an hour talking about the movie that's out in theaters this week than the situation in the Middle East? I think both describe me. I don't think "escapism" is the only reason I do it either. And it's not because I don't think the situation in the Middle East isn't important or worth talking about. I just may be more interested in the movie.

I am a product of my culture. Have you noticed that gas stations have begun installing TV screens at the pump that broadcast music videos? My only guess at their existence is to be "better than the station down the road." What TV screens have to do with the quality or value of gas is beyond me. But if that station is more entertaining, more people might go to it. Albertson's has just installed similar screens all over their store here. At the check-stands and in food areas the screens give you recipes (and probably entertainment news). Stater Brothers has had a trivia contest going over the PA to give away free bags of groceries. I wonder who will win.

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