Entertainment can be classified into general and public forms of entertainment. There are shows in which we are observers and participants. In those forms of entertainment where were observers, we are captivated by the deeds of others. In those that were are participants, we all have our part to play in order to ensure the success of the show in general. However, these roles are not exclusive because there are forms of entertainment in which we are both observer and participant.
General forms of entertainment are less interactive; a contradiction is more or less when you think about it. When you go to the cinema to watch a movie, we are physically cut off from the movie stars in the movie. The contradiction comes about in live shows like a comedy act where the comedian can call for our participation of the various jokes. In essence, not all forms entertainment are interactive or closed off. They often blend with each other.
Entertainment is a gateway to fantasy; an entry to an alternate reality. Media scholars call this mediated reality in which time passes rather quickly. In a film, you can move years into the past or future in a matter of minutes. This can only happen in fantasy but not in reality. Films take us to places and have concepts that are completely alien and virtually impossible. A film like Ridely Scott’s ‘Alien’ Trilogy puts us in a situation where we see a female hero battling extra-terrestrial monsters on a space ship. Normally, such a scenario is impossible in real life but in movies we get to battle those life forms with her and get to see her win.
Other people look for entertainment for relax. Everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to music; they have a genre that they are in love with. There is always that tune that they are in love with. It is a way to calm their nerves. Music therapy is used by some doctors to cure certain aliments, but the jury is still out on that.
For the most part entertainment used for catharsis. Within us there are very powerful emotions that find a release in entertainment. Genres like opera are felt and not listened to. The opera is a great release for powerful emotions. There have been cases where people who listen to operas experience so much emotion that they end up breaking out. However, this release of information is can go to very dangerous extremes and manifest themselves in deviant behaviour.
Entertainment does is that ensures that people are emotionally involved in the act. Writers employ various devices of style to get emotionally invested in a show. For instance, series, employ cliff hangers at series finale to get us to look forward to the next season.
Even with this emotional investment, it is easy to get carried away with it and forget all responsibility. It is important that you exercise restraint when watching movies or playing games in order to avoid a phenomenon called video-game transference (VGT). This extreme behaviour may compel people to act out what they see on TV in real life. In order to avoid this, watch everything in moderation.
When people seek out entertainment, they do so with the aim of living vicariously through them. Below are the effects of entertainment on the individual in a nutshell.
1. Identification – Shows have a way of making people identify with the characters. They seem to go through similar struggles that we go through. In some way, when they find a solution, we seem to do so as well.
2. Fantasy – For most people entertainment is a form of escape into an alternate reality. Not everyone can fly around like Superman or live dangerously and be wealthy like Batman, but we can live vicariously through them.
3. Projection – Ever had a bad a day and you felt as though you couldn’t talk to anyone about it? Or a nasty break up that you just wanted to forget about? We all have a tune that we turn to when we feel down and want turn that frown upside down.
4. Regression – Through entertainment, we get to live our past emotions.
5. Sublimation – Entertainment is also a form of sublimation of our impulsive desires and this especially true when we participate in entertainment as in the interpretation of art.
6. Displacement – In non-participative and passive entertainment forms, individual escape reality by displacing from their emotions. Think of it as a vicarious experience that enables one to live out an alternate reality that isn’t possible through in reality.