Monday, January 18, 2016

Define Entertainment

When I first started this blog, it was because I needed somewhere to vent. The media is the worst!

I've changed my view. It's not the media that's the worst. It's the people who excuse the media for their idiotic stunts.

In 2010, Paul Henry, a morning show host resigned after allegations of racism (there had been various other problems with him). Wikipedia has this to say on the matter:
Henry's resignation polarised the New Zealand public, with supporters claiming he was a victim of political correctness, and critics accusing him of pandering to the lowest common denominator.
Remembering that "political correctness" roughly translates to "opportunity to not be a dick". Paul Henry then went to Australia, offended some people there (by stating that Asylum Seekers should 'starve to death') before coming back to NZ. He then ended up back in NZ TV.

At the time there was some outrage. BUT there was also plenty of fans happy to have him back on TV. Apparently "he's just funny" counteracts any social responsibility he has not to push bigoted views to the NZ public in his rather privileged position.

In 2009, the long running Australian show "Hey, Hey, It's Saturday" did a whole black face skit that the guest, Harry Connick Junior, was horrendously offended by. The rationale for the skit? "It's not meant to be racist". That was 2009 people. Are Australians really that clueless about racism?

Fast forward to today. Radio stations, notably "The Edge" here in New Zealand, continually publish "articles" that seem designed to condescend or normalize idiocy. Such articles include things like "Does that celeb who did an interview last night look sick to you?" probably looking to ride the coat tails of the recent celebrity deaths (Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman).

And in saying all of that, comedy has, for a very long time, been an avenue to creating conversations about awkward things. So sometimes it needs to offend.

The question is, what is entertainment? I don't think a reinforcement of society's worst traits should be excused with a "light entertainment" tag. It's not okay to be racist and/or sexist and then say "just joking" so why is it excused in the media?

There's also an odd sense of a normalizing of stupidity. I guess this has been going on for a long time and is often referred to as "pandering to the lowest common denominator"; although I think this tends to miss something too. It can be hoped that bigotry is not a common denominator. Stupidity also fits this category. Humour in the form of watching people getting hurt (Funniest Home Video type shows), for example, puts my teeth on edge. It's not entertaining. It's gruelling. I've seen other people cringe when they've watched it. Basically, the "common dominator" reasoning needs to be taken out back and shot in the head.

Which then makes it a reflection on ourselves i.e. we consume this so this is what is provided OR this is what the media thinks of us i.e. Hahah! Black face! in which case, we should be demanding better.