Friday, September 30, 2016

The False Idol Of Entertainment

How many of us have uttered - or at least heard - the sentence "we need decent entertainment that's free of moral filth"?  I have.  I think we can all agree that most of today's entertainment is rife with material that mocks God's intentions for marriage and sexuality; additionally, progressives have infiltrated almost every aspect of that industry.

This post will not focus on that aspect of the statement, but another one that is largely ignored but probably much more basic.  To start, I'll counter that question with another: "since when did entertainment ever become a need"?  Think about it; the idea that the commodity known as entertainment should be placed on the same level of necessity as food, water, air, clothing, shelter, healthy human relationships and even God Himself is rather ludicrous.  Yet even good Catholics are deluded into thinking that somehow they need copious amounts of entertainment.

Much of what passes for entertainment these days is really quite mind-deadening.  We either:
  • plop ourselves in front of tv's
  • attend movies, or concerts, or sports events
and just soak up whatever is being thrown at us from the screen, stage, arena, whatever.  Rarely do we evaluate the input being poured into our minds like water poured at a sponge.  In fact, peer pressure discourages critical thinking.  I recall several times watching movies with friends and pointing out holes in various plots.  During all these occasions I was scolded, with others saying that I'm "supposed to suspend thinking".  These were fellow Christians telling me that!  When the Apostle Peter warns us in his epistle to "watch always for the devil prowls like a lion", I take him at his word and denounce this concept of "suspending thinking" even for a few minutes.  This suspension of critical thinking is something that occurs with even "decent forms of entertainment.  I suspect it's very dangerous, for it encourages people to lust after entertainment that will only yank and massage their emotions and encourage mental laziness.

Besides the mind-deadening aspects of entertainment, there is also the problem of de facto voyeurism that many (even Christians!) engage when they slavishly follow the doings and sayings of entertainment personalities.  Entire industries have arisen around the insane fascination with the lives of what some call "pretty people".  Anyone who goes to a grocery store cannot help but notice the gossip rags and tabloid trash that routinely tell us who's shacking up with whom and who's having another star's baby, and a messy divorce, and on and on and on.  If an entertainment personality dies, they yammer on and on about that for months (as though no one else in the world dies).  We are also treated to their political opinions which are for the most part, progressive.  That is, they favor gay marriage, abortion, etc and are probably embroiled in those evils presently.

This voyeurism is no new phenomenum.  It has gone on for generations, probably for as long as Hollywood existed.  Even in the 1930s and 1940s, when national morals were allegedly  more sound than they are today, stars routinely played "musical marriage".  I often wondered why on earth the ordinary person seemed so fascinated by all the juvenile nonsense going on in Hollywood, especially then when morals and common sense were supposedly more valued then than in today's post-modern culture.  

Only recently did a possible reason dawn on me.  Back then, the ordinary person wasn't as wealthy as his descendents today.  In the early part of the 20th century a large contingent of the population were living on farms, and that is how they made their living.  They could not live profligate lifestyles and still have the physical wherewithall to work their farms.  Their livelihoods depended on "clean living".   On the other hand, the stars were relatively wealthy.  If they engaged in riotous activities, they had financial resources to shield themselves from consequences of their various debaucheries.  That "shielding" included abortions; yes, Hollywood was rife with baby-murder.  That didn't work all the time for enough stars did fall into ruin owing to their wanton excesses (and of course the tabloid trash would have field days with that).

I strongly suspect that the voyeurs of past generations would have liked to engage in that behavior but their circumstances militated against it.  Their fascination by the stars was borne of wishes to live as they did.  They both envied the stars and secretly congratulated them as they carried on.  In short, the so-called "moral ordinary citizen" was not all that moral in his or her heart.  As they followed the doings and sayings of their favorite stars, they lived vicariously through them, actually reveling in the debaucheries of their star-idols.  They do so to this day.

So why, on this blog that has as its purpose the restoration of Catholicism, focusing on the common but morbid fascination with popular entertainers?  Because so many of us, even decent Catholics, have glommed onto this trend and are helping perpetuate cultural and spiritual degeneration.  The "we need decent entertainment" statement indicates that Catholics have been infected with that societal sickness.  We aren't going to be able to clean up the cultural mess if we ourselves don't stop taking swigs from the swill.

So what to do?  For starters, I'd suggest procuring and reading "Amusing Ourselves To Death" by Neil Postman.  He offers some great commentary and research regarding the harm that most modern "entertainment" (even the "clean" sort) has done to people's abilities to engage in simple linear reasoning.  I'd also suggest turning off the TV; there are reasons why it is called "boob tube" and "idiot box" and "electronic deity".  For healthy entertainment, create your own by:
  • reading good books that serve an educational purpose - including ones that teach the Catholic faith
  • learning to play a musical instrument
  • engaging in sports yourselves as opposed to watching paid athletes snub our flag when the Star Spangled Banner is played (good exercise, too!)
  • learning a form of arts and crafts
  • family recreations
  • getting together with like-minded people for good conversation
The possibilities are endless.  The above-mentioned list does not involve dependence on major sports or mainstream entertainment industries.  Why pay one cent of your hard-earned money to fill their purses, knowing full well that some of that money will go to finance their profligate lifestyles or go to their favorite progressive causes?

Comments/suggestions welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! This is something I have been thinking about recently. The TV isn't so much of a problem anymore, horrible programming took care of that, but more, the computer. I need to get away from this thing, and do more of the healthy alternatives. I especially need to have some silence in my life, and try harder to hear God speaking to me.


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