Friday, December 3, 2010

The Rising Tide

Entertainment is the single most lucrative industry in the US. Wolf (1999), as quoted in Singhal and Rogers’ article, was spot-on in describing entertainment as a “rising tide” in the US. Unyielding and inevitable, entertainmentization has gripped society to such an extent a decade after the term was coined that the American public has been unwittingly consumed in the entertainment society, as much as we live in an information society. We demand entertainment in everything around us: elevators and cabs are equipped with tvs; with smart phones and ipods placing entertainment at our fingertips, there is never an idle moment. Materials meant to be informative or educational are evaluated for their entertainment value even where utterly irrelevant. The most ordinary aspects of daily life involving showcasing cakes at the local bakery, makeover shows, choosing your wedding dress, housewives, and large families are the center of reality shows for the public to feed on. Details of celebrities and other high-profile people’s lives are tabloid fodder to satiate the public’s desire for entertainment. This ties back to the idea of the paradox of plenty, where we are perhaps inundated by too many entertainment options that there is a sensory overload that makes it difficult to choose what to pay attention to, determine what is important, or what to indulge in next.


  1. And I think that all of this links to ideas we spoke about in class about activism, and how we can have the misperception that we are participating in change/protest, when in fact maybe we are simply just busy and surrounded by noise and constant input. While I do think that the constant access to information through entertainment can create a more informed citizenry, does that mean that people are more involved and empowered?

  2. The concept of entertainment as a growing trend in society is definitely notable, however, I'm not so sure that the "paradox of plenty" is a negative thing. Though we do have more options at our finger tips then we did say 10 or 20 years ago, its important to note that this may be a issue for only the technology wealthy areas/nations, for others the options may be considerably less or even relatively non-existent.

    However, I think its also important to take into context as Willow mentioned the involvement of people in their selection of media. People will often only consume things of a select interest and no matter how enticing or more informative a show or concept may be, it may never enter into a person's select periphery of vision due to social norms or mind sets.

  3. This post reminded me a little of a documentary that I heard about recently: "What would Jesus Buy?" (, about a pastor who goes around the U.S. decrying the unsustainable and negative nature of consumerism. As I watched the trailer online, it made me wonder, can there be such a thing as too many toys?

    People love stuff, which I think is the inherent concept to the "paradox of plenty." Our lives are so organized around it that it's the basis of millions of people's livelihoods worldwide. And because how large the entertainment industry has become, I do feel over inundated with the noise of it all. No longer can you keep up with the water cooler conversation, because everyone has a different show they watch every week. If bored, I have access to thousands of TV, Music, Movies, and Video Games, most of which I can now watch for free. It can be overwhelming.

    But where Singhal and Rodgers fail is to account for the fact that not everyone gets washed away with the rising tide. Like lotusofmukuro says above, some people can resist the building rush of media to engulf us all. Although whether or not that makes them more or less informed or intelligent within the context of this world, I don't know.