Many people, particularly many of power, believe that entertainment is a luxury. People simply listen to music because it’s nice, they watch movies for fun, and go to theme parks for vacation. Kids don’t actually need educational programs, families don’t actually need theatres or televisions to spend time enjoying a story together, and bored and perhaps hopeless hospital patients (especially any involved with something like the Make A Wish Foundation) don’t need something to watch or listen to while they sit in a bed hardly or unable to move. If you agree with any of these statements, for the sake of our future and society, please continue reading.
The entertainment industry has grown incredulously throughout the development of human culture. Cavemen told stories to teach lessons and make their families and friends smile in (literally) dark times. The Greeks taught and discussed philosophy and deities through theatre. Thousands of years have developed the art of storytelling to teach values, morals, history, and love. Religious communities come together with music, singing hymns and songs to unite in their faith. Soldiers and members of war sing together to remind themselves what they are fighting for and to fight the hardship of being away from home. What better example of that then the classic “White Christmas” movie. The movie’s characters revel in Bob Wallace because his singing brings them hope in such a war-stricken time. He joins other performers to use music and theatre to bring joy and honor to those fighting and those at home.
Notice the particular word “movie.” Ever thought about the hundreds of jobs, including writers, actors, singers, musicians, cameramen, filmmakers, sound engineers, producers, people who work in construction, scenic artistry, administration, coordinating, finances, catering, transportation, and so many more that it took to make that movie? That one movie. Film and television are undoubtedly an enormous part of American culture and economy.
Imagine if there wasn’t a single television, concert, show, radio station, or book in the world...
It’s literally inconceivable. That means no “The Office,” no Netflix, no concerts, no songs, no plays, no books… How would we even teach without educational programs that help kids learn how to read? If there were no stories or books, what would be the point of learning language anyway?? Who would be our children’s role models if we didn’t have celebrity singers and actors showing them life lessons through art? How different would America be without the entire company of Disney? Think on that for a second...
It is easy to brush off the “cultural or educational significance” of something like the new “Deadpool” movie or “Anaconda” song or even “Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical.” Yes, not every piece of art is going to be the most innovative or thought-provoking thing, but different kinds of art unite people in different ways. Some art teaches and some consoles. Some art challenges ideas and all of it comes together to a bigger picture. The same person who will condescendingly say music and art are not important is often the same person who will cry offense if someone doesn't stand, putting their hand on their heart, and participate in singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” because it symbolizes pride for their country and the people who keep it safe.As a performer and artist, I can’t tell you how many times people have insulted me and lectured me on my “silliness” and “naivety” for pursuing such an unstable and one-in-a-million type of career (which already shows they know nothing about it because being the next Ariana Grande or Ryan Reynolds is most definitely not the end all be all of the industry). Older folks have patted me on the head and told me where I should be living if I want to “make it big” or actually do something with my life. I’m “too smart” to be an entertainer and should do something meaningful like law or med school.
Next time you want to laugh because a seven year old says they want to be a pop star or likes to make silly little videos with their friends to upload on YouTube, take a second to think about what impact your disapproval will make and what impact that kid may make on you one day. Next time you want to laugh because a 20-something wants to be a character in a big television show or write the next famous “Harry Potter” series, take a second to consider that you don’t know how much time and hard work they’ve spent getting to where they are and you have no idea how their talents will shape the future. Next time you’re having an awful day and your put on your favorite show or song to make you feel better, think about all the creative minds and hard-earned talent it took to make so you could simply click a button and have it for yourself. Society would crumble without the entertainment industry so please don’t let its worth go unnoticed.