That’s your entertainment!
You are what you like. Well, it’s not strictly true that you are exactly the thing or the way that you would like to be. But it’s pretty much true that you are about the things that are the things that you like. This is not just an empty aphorism, but a home truth.
The way a person is, or a group of people are, aligned or in parallel with the things they like to have, do, play with, eat, wear, drive, watch, listen to, etc. Whether they have accomplished it, aspire to it, or simply appreciate it, the actualization is not particularly important for this discussion. That they focus on it *is* the point! People care about their favorite pass-time, and attend to it; it’s a defining part of their lives. They are a ” ‘that’-person”, where one defines such a person by naming the cultural focus , activity or thing as ‘that’. Note that some activities or situations label the participants with different monikers, such as ‘house-heads’ being people who follow the music called ‘house music’, and ‘gadget-freak’ is a person who appreciates all the latest and greatest gadgets, and a ‘Giants fan’ is a fan of the baseball (or football team) called the Giants.
The semiotics of this may be simplistic or complex. A sports team fan is often easily identified by wearing team clothing. The same may be said of a university student or graduate. However, decoding the symbols of a house head may be far more difficult. An opera lover may be difficult to recognize, while an aficionado of certain automobile brands may readily determined. Fashionistas usually strive to openly declare their preferences, while substance abusers usually work at concealing theirs, though appearances and activities may betray them.
Entertainment clearly includes music and theatre styles and formats, but the inclusion of automobile brands in entertainment is not so recognized or settled. Still, one may accept such as entertainments, provided that one categotizes any superfluous capability or characteristic (the luxuries) as a form of entertainment. Indeed, such an argument was once made by a Persident of the Porsche car company, and the BMW car company has worked hard to establish a ‘BMW Lifestyle’ division, and to blur the lines between car sales and fashion marketing.
This would give us Chevrolets being cars, and Ferraris being entertainment. One might query this, positing that a Ferrari the very definition of the maximum car? Well, yes, but it’s also largely superfluous, in capability, luxury, cost, etc. Much of that superfluity is for entertainment, unless it has been purchased for track racing.
In short, brands are turning towards entertainment, and entertainment is turning into a parade of brands.
Whether it’s the Budweiser sponsorship of Rolling Stones tour, or the product placement of Audi cars in the Transporter film series, products and entertainment are working together to attract and make use of our attention. From the comic-book heroes that become our Superman/Batman/Capt. America/X-men movie franchises, to the Transformers, Toy Stories and Cars that go the other way, entertainment is a commercial activity, and always has been. From the meretricious sex of the world’s oldest profession, to the monetized pre-roll advertisements of the YouTube and YouKou clips, monetized pleasure is a fixture of our world.
Indeed, we gravitate towards professional entertainment because we become accustomed to the quslities and characteristics of the brand. Whether it is presentation, hospitality or transportation, we accept that we need to pay for it, and focus our attentions on getting the feeling and style we like at the best value. Because these things are beyond basic necessities of survival, they are entertainments, if not luxuries.
Outside the scope of this paper are other symbolic items, including avatars, nicknames, philosophies, movements and hairstyles. Although hairstyles may be amusing to the onlookers, they are manifestly expressive. And though names may seem lighthearted at first hearing, they label people and call out their characteristics.
Names, specifically nicknames, are symbols of a different nature, the importance of which have increased in the internet age, explosively with the ‘web 2.0’ era and mobile device proliferation. Such an entertainment form can be left for yet another day.
At the end of the day, this article refers to my movie review of Fast and Furious 7, the most recent installment of that franchise, and one of the most popular movies in the history of cinema. That means that FF7 must be understood as a cultural bellweather, whether one particularly likes it, or not. To neglect it is to ignore a real indicator of the world today. Just as closing the door would not make Hurricane Katrina go away, turning one’s back on FF7 is not going to erase the reality of mass acceptance of this entertainment. This story has a basic triumph of good over evil, and a triumph of fellowship and teamwork. Does it have an ideological leaning or flavor that appeals to the common man? It may appeal, but it seems to do so without reference to social, religious or political positions. Maybe that is its strength, in contrast to other recent flicks which may have overtly played to a particular audience.