How to Define Entertainment

Fire Eater

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How to define entertainment for a world population of nearly 8 billion people? It is as diverse a task, as each person’s fingerprints and individual tastes. Entertainment is an activity or event that holds the attention and interest of an audience. It is designed to give pleasure, delight, slow the pace of life, and stimulate the brain.

Passive or Active Entertainment

Entertainment can be either passive or active. Entertainment is based on personal experience, the ‘word-of-mouth’ being the most powerful tool. People share their particular enjoyment and recommend something to their friends and family. Social media and media are the technology arms and play a prominent role in the entertainment world.  

Long gone are the days when you needed to create your own entertainment. Now all you have to do is settle back in a chair and flick the TV on. However, it’s not easy to define entertainment, for what suits one person, does not suit another.

Types of Entertainment

Entertainment impacts people in a variety of ways according to individual tastes. These can differ from enjoying an art exhibition to the thrill of riding a roller coaster. The circus evokes a different set of emotions, compared to wandering in a museum, or being part of a rock festival, or football game. Reading a good book is a stark contrast to playing video games, or quietly pursuing a hobby. There is no ‘recipe’ of one fits all, for as Shakespeare wrote, “To each his own.”

Tastes in entertainment changes with time. It can be a ‘fashion fad’ or a case of maturity. The fastest growing area of entertainment has long been watching a movie on the TV. Streaming services have become the largest sector of the entertainment industry.

Entertainment Nurtures Culture

Festivals are essential for building communal culture, besides providing fun and entertainment. The Hoi festival in India has significant spiritual connotations in welcoming the return of spring. Pelting passersby with brilliantly coloured dyes sounds like lots of fun, provided you have a spare set of clothes. Tourists are warned to check out the dates of Hoi, if they are visiting India. Walking into a Hoi festival might prove too much of a shock. I must admit I’d enjoy being an observer rather than a participator.

Entertainment not only nurtures, but reflects a society’s culture. Consider the impact on a community that is full of excitable fans of the national football team. Emotions can run extremely high as was witnessed in the latest Indonesian tragedy. Instead of enjoyable entertainment, 125 people were killed.

Entertainment can either cause isolation, or it can unite friends and family and an entire community. Christmas and Thanksgiving are all cultural entertainments. Easter, a religious festival, has become a major market for designers of entertainment.

Entertainment Fosters Creativity

The home of creativity and the showcase for talent is the convoluted world of entertainment. New faces are drawn out of the shadows of obscurity, on shoestring budgets. Anyone who has the desire to entertain can find a willing audience. Buskers at a local market, to soapbox orators in a town square, can provide enjoyment for an audience and creativity can blossom.

No longer do studio moguls rule the dark underbelly of Hollywood, with multimillion-dollar sets and their particular form of manipulation. Unknown people, with low budgets have been able to snap up coveted awards. Technology has revolutionised the entertainment world in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Entertainment provokes a wide range of feelings in the audience, ranging from amusement, enjoyment, diversion, amazement, relaxation, to shock and horror. It is a break from the norm, as entertainment transports you into an entirely different world from everyday living.

Defining Entertainment Reveals the Breaking of Monotony

Entertainment is designed to relax people and momentarily help them forget their current situation. It is a distraction from the stress of everyday living. It enables people to rise from the obligations of physical reality and escape into the world of fantasy.

Entertainment can lighten your mood while adding joy to your life. We must never underestimate the healing hand of laughter. A clown in a children’s sick ward can work wonders. How good do you feel after a good hard belly-laugh? There are both short and long-term benefits to laughter.

Entertainment and Productivity

The way entertainment relaxes has proved to have the positive result of increasing productivity. It causes a person refuel the energy tank.

Music plays a major role in the psychology of a customer. You don’t want to stay and browse in a shop when the music rasps on your nerves. Usually, that music is controlled by teenagers who assuage their boredom, heedless of others. The bosses are either absent or haven’t bothered to train their staff in the art of customer service.

I enjoy having gentle music playing in the background while I write, as it seems to increase my level of concentration. Studies have shown that certain types of music, such as classical, improves productivity. A study in Japan revealed students who listened to soothing music before their exam, had much higher results than those who listened to upbeat pop music.

Entertainment is important for our self-esteem and feeling of well-being. Every good musician knows a taunt wire will eventually break.

Entertainment can be Both Opportunistic and Educational

Entertainment is indisputably an industry that is lucrative for many. In 2009, the film Avatar grossed $2,905,490,102 as the top box-office film of all time. Local economies are boosted by the entertainment world. Scores of different sectors and businesses thrive, because of entertainment.

It has also proved an asset to education, as children learn faster through music and fun-filled learning. Such learning is not only engaging, but far is more effective than conventional, monotonous learning methods.

If you can make a person smile or laugh while trying to make a point, that person will be more open to what you are saying. Of course, this kind of approach can only be used in certain circumstances. Laughter opens you up to subliminal learning and acceptance.

The Shock Factor of Entertainment

What enabled someone like Alfred Hitchcock to capture audiences around the world? One explanation is that the swinging 60s and 70s had a strong global economy. The world was waking up following the post-war recession and consumerism was on the rise.

There was a counterculture shock that was reflected in entertainment. The shock value in entertainment was on a new high with Elvis Presley gyrating his hips, sexualizing rock music and the beat of groups like the Beatles. Competition was fierce with groups of a totally different genre like Abba and singers such as Neil Diamond. The audience was strongly divided.

Hitchcock, who had been around since the silent movies, had the ability to evoke strong reactions in an audience who found a release in his type of entertainment. The emotional train ride to hell continued to escalate right up to the huge following of the Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead.

The Power of Horror

In defining entertainment, it is important to realise that shock value deliberately startles or offends the audience. It violates norms of social values and personal ideals. Conservatives are shocked, while progressives defend shock horror in the name of progress and art. Ban a book and sales skyrocket.

Some people enjoy horror for a variety of reasons: mystery, tension, relevance and unrealism. Many people become addicted to trauma, and the adrenalin rush. The body’s sympathetic nervous system is revved up, inducing stress and anxiety. This floods the body with opiate endorphins. The payoff comes when the experience is over, and the person can return to ‘normal life’ unharmed.

There is however, a difference between sensation seekers, suspension and tension seekers. Horror movies are a periodic jolt to the nervous system and a sneak peek at our innermost fears. All this is viewed from the comfort of a secure environment, and has a common thread of empathy for the victim.

If I have a choice, I will choose the endorphins generated through laughter. I feel so good when I have watched a movie that has sent me into gales of laughter. I don’t mind watching these on my own, so my enjoyment is unhindered.

Conclusion in How to Define Entertainment

Variety is the spice of life and so it is with entertainment. It is not our place to judge what others find entertaining. The important thing is to do what you love, if it causes no harm to others, and to love what you do. As a mother, it is also important to monitor what your children are doing for entertainment, as entertainment is part of moulding what they will become as an adult. Enjoy your relaxation.

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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