Every so often art, technology, and entertainment are made to be some kind of new evil. Articles, emails, and teachings are produced – mocking and and devaluing the art and the industry that is a large part of our world. Many good things have fallen victim to this, and many people (myself included) have spent years being mislead by organizations with a specific agenda. Organizations that use lies, misinformation, and bad reporting to keep everyone from engaging in something they personally feel is not worth engaging in.
They want to live in a world where everything is monitored, judged, and valued on a scale of what messages a given story contains, how it fits into the company’s worldview, and if there is anything that could remotely be imperfect (or above G). A lot of parents seem to want this for their children too, and thus buy into the world that these organizations purport. It comes from a place of love, naturally – that weird protective instinct all parents seem to inherit and have to try very hard not to over-do.
The problem is, that so much focus is going into the “value” as rigidly defined by various organizations that the real value and the point of being entertained is lost. A large part, I believe, is due to the fact that the idea of entertainment ala Focus on the Family, The American Family Association, and others, is not really considered to have any value at all.
The idea of relaxing, and watching (or listening, or looking at, or playing) something for no reason other than it is interesting and appeals to you just doesn’t even compute. Because for something to have value in my ex-world, there has to be a higher reason. I had to learn to listen to music, because I thought the only value in song was lyrics. I learned to appreciate a good story, because I, like many others, was taught to believe that movies and books carried secret messages and we had to be careful to expose ourselves to only “the good ones” so we wouldn’t be influenced wrongly.
This adds a lot of work to being entertained that doesn’t need to be there. Being entertained is not a mental exercise, it’s a connection; the best things connect to you on a deeper level and that’s when art is created.
What attracts you, or what “messages” you find, may be the things that you were reaching for inside. Other people may not see that, or may find things they needed; more might just enjoy it for the quality of the sound, the stage, the storytelling, and find nothing deeper. Are any of these wrong?
Do people have to find the same thing that stirred within you when you read Lord of the Rings for it to count? I don’t think so, I don’t think anyone really thinks so.
This is what is so powerful about the art of entertainment: when done well, people from all walks of life can appreciate it on so many levels – each one just as valid as the next.
What did I do? I ever so reluctantly found good stories, and fell in love with them; not because of any scale of value, but because the stories were good. Which opened up a wonderful world that I had missed before. If you want to be a writer, an artist, or a storyteller, it helps to appreciate the art of being entertained, develop your unique taste, and find the things that inspire you by exposing yourself to new things.
Read the kind of stories you want to write, watch the movies you hope to create, listen to the music you want compose – then expose yourself to the opposite. Be entertained for the sake of being entertained and appreciate the art and the effort that goes into it.