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Monday, 16 July 2007

Interminable Entertainment

Eyewear would like to report that the war to colonise our imaginations has been won. Prince, as we have all heard in the last few days, has begun to disseminate (I select this term carefully), his songs for free, via newspapers and the Internet; meanwhile, reports stream in of a generation of "screen kids" raised on a steady diet of web-based, digi-tainment. Meanwhile, the Potter franchise - a mighty juggernaut - rolls forward.

Students of media and culture might want to suggest a term for this landscape of ours - one with no foreseeable horizon - "Interminable Entertainment". Put bluntly, there is no end in sight, to TV episodes airing, music groups releasing songs, films being produced, books being published - and new works being created and distributed in media as yet unknown. Creators have a moral right to protect these works - but do we, the targeted audience, have a moral right to resist? To ever shut down, turn away, avoid the never-ending stories and unceasing cacophony of new releases, new writers, new stars, new franchises, and on and on and on. Truth is, and exhaustingly, the people who, like busy bees or productive ants, scurry to make new things for us to consume as cultural entertainment, cannot stop, if they wanted - new people would replace them. Why? Two reasons: glamour and money. The industries that sustain a never-ending supply of product for our minds pay well, and, if only by association with celebrities and famous artists, are considered prestigious by many.

You may say I am being a curmudgeon here. But the lack of surcease, for instance, in the idea of televisual fare, is utterly numbing. Knowing, as I do, that moving images used for narrative pleasure, will be a form of mass communication for the next century, if not longer, fills me with dread and melancholy. All those concepts, all those pitches.

To keep it new, reviewers and marketers speak of new forms of distribution - but, whether the entertainment comes through a TV or other screen (or directly onto the retina) it is still someone selling something to us, to entrance us - shadows on a cave wall, that, alas, and classically, continue to deviate from a sunnier truth.
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