Gray, J ~ Television Entertainment

Gray, Jonathan
Television Entertainment

“Entertainment is a concept of great familiarity to anyone capable of smiling. While we may struggle to define it in the abstract, we know it when it happens.”

we can make a crude division between programming whose primary aim is to entertain, to inform and educate, or to sell, which subsequently divides the television world into: (a) entertainment programming (b) news, documentaries, and educational programming and (c) advertisements. Of course, ads frequently hope to sell precisely by entertaining, and a rare few – such as public service announcements – sell by informing and educating.The news, meanwhile, is increasingly becoming entertainment driven, with stories on Paris Hilton’s or Britney Spears’ meltdowns trumping news of diplomatic missions and policy debates. Some of the best educational programming, too, from Sesame Street to Blue Planet, is wonderfully entertaining, and, as I will argue, entertainment often informs and educates.” -> But really they are inseparable.

“Beyond quoting the OED or Zillmann and Bryant, I find it remarkably hard to offer a value-neutral definition of entertainment, since it is one of the most automatically moralized concepts. Entertainment can be a compliment or a profanity, and it can represent transcendence or corruption, salvation or sin, depending upon the speaker. Thus, for instance, even the OED’s first example for the word entertainment – “everyone just sits in front of the television for entertainment” (emphasis added) – offers an implicit evaluation and criticism of entertainment and of the act of watching it.”

Summarizing, entertainment’s critics launch three major attacks. First, we see great fear of the incredible powers of television entertainment. Entertainment is posited either as a great ill in and of itself, as capable of masking comparably great ills, or as so completely devoid of content, meaning, and/or value that our culture’s love affair with it is seen as the ultimate waste of time and human potential. Second, entertainment is placed in stark and clear opposition to information and education. When writers talk of entertainment “creeping” into information, they employ the imagery of invasion, rival armies, and unlawful occupation. Finally, particularly when metaphors of narcosis are used, entertainment’s viewers or “users” are frequently seen as unreliable around such a stimulus, and as slaves to their/our addiction, hence meaning that entertainment plus humans equals a troublesome combination.

“Introductory media textbooks are often divided into sections on the media studies’ holy trinity of texts (by which is meant programs/shows),industry (production), and audiences (viewers).”

About the author

Woitek Konzal

Producer, Consultant, Lecturer & Researcher. I love working where technology meets media in novel ways. Once, I even won an Emmy for digital innovation doing that. Be it for a small but exciting campaign about underground electronic music collectives or for a monster project combining two movies, various 360° videos, 72 ARG-like mini puzzles, and a Unity game, all wrapped up in one cross-platform app – I have proven my ability to adapt to what is required. This passion for novel technologies has regularly allowed me to cross paths with tech startups – an industry and philosophy I am all set to engage with more. I intensely enjoy balancing out my practical work with academic research, teaching, and consulting. Also, I have a PhD in Creative Industries, a M.Sc. in Business Administration, and love to kitesurf.

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