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Comments made by PGStromberg

How Entertainment Works on You

Thanks for your clarification. In fact, a murder mystery is a very particular sort of story, peculiar to our times, so it does fit into what I call entertainment. But I see where you might have thought I was talking about stories in general. I discuss these issues more carefully in the book. (and by the way, I would certainly guess that people got caught up in stories in earlier ages).

I agree with you that there are many reasons that people don't achieve their goals (something that has also been with us for a very long time)

July 29, 2009 at 6:18 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

How Entertainment Works on You

In my previous comment, last line, I meant "no" desire to talk you out of it. Freudian slip.

With regard to the mention of Neil Postman's book "Amusing Ourselves To Death." Thanks for mentioning this, there's a lot of cultural criticism out there that raises important questions about our involvement with entertainment, and Postman's book is one of the more thoughtful ones. (Another new book along these lines, one I haven't read yet, is Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion).

In Caught in Play, I try to focus more on how entertainment works and less on criticizing contemporary culture. I agree with the comment--entertainment has an enormous and at times chilling effect on us. But entertainment culture also has some positive benefits--for example I think it can be argued that entertainment has had an important role in creating a more open society. I don't know if Orwell or Huxley predicted our future, I just know that we need to talk more about this topic and figure out what's going on.

Good comment, thanks.

July 28, 2009 at 2:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

How Entertainment Works on You

The first comment above asserts that the historic record shows that entertainment has always been a big part of people's lives. Having been reading in this area for about 15 years, I have to tell you that I have missed this part of the historical record. In what sense were medieval serfs or the Puritans or the native peoples of New Guinea heavily into entertainment? Even today there are millions of people who do not participate in entertainment activities because such activities violate their religious convictions. There is, on the other hand, a great deal of historical work tying the birth of entertainment culture to the rise of capitalism, especially consumer capitalism after the early 20th century.

If you mean that people have always entertained themselves with stories and games (and celebrations of various sorts), then that's probably true. So I suppose it depends on how you are defining entertainment. In my work, I want to look at the distinctive features of contemporary entertainment and how these may influence our way of life. You say that most people are intelligent enough to avoid any undue influence. Having known some very intelligent gaming addicts, for example, I'm not sure that intelligence is the issue. But if you think there's just not an issue here, that we need not worry about the influence of entertainment, then that's your opinion and I have to desire to talk you out of it. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

July 28, 2009 at 2:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )