PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Entertainment

Dear Friends,

First of all Happy New Year!! Feliz Nuevo Año!!

This Sunday, the 8th we are discussing: Entertainment.

(I'm sending the email today Wednesday, because it might be difficult to
do it late tomorrow.)

We've just spent the past few days busy engaged in activities full of
merriment, joy and entertainment in the year, i.e. Christmas. Or at
least that's the universal idea we are supposed to have about Christmas
and the new year celebrations. This idea of entertainment goes back to
the beginnings of time. Maybe at the beginning activities weren't as
sophisticated as a shopping mall today with all sorts of retail shops
and cinema theatres.

Of course, we know the difference between entertainment and work. And we
appreciate that our entertainment is probably someone else's work. But
what does this have to do with philosophy?

It has always been argued that life is balance between pain and
pleasure, and indeed we also have in our language such proverbs as "All
work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Even from this very simple
idea, we can engage in such questions as: what is the right work/rest
balance? How do we ensure that everyone enjoys this balance? Or at the
very least offer real opportunities for everyone to have a work/rest

And by definition we are encroaching into human rights, exploitation,
slavery, health and safety at work, economics, political powers and the
duty of the state towards people in general, and workers, in particular?
For example should governments subsidise certain entertainment activities?

Entertainment can be a personal activity or something we do with small
groups such as family or friends, social and national in scope, and
today with the help of technology we have global entertainment. When
describing personal entertainment we would use such terminology as
hobbies, personal interests, relaxing activities, personal time, and so
on. The idea here is that we are not just participants in these
activities but in most cases we design the nature of these activities.
Someone who likes hiking might have the option to join a hiking group or
simply plan a day out hiking. What is clear is that there are very few
things, apart from contemplating the infinite, we can do without the
need of other people. If we are into hiking we need hiking shoes, bags,
maps, transport etc.

At an extreme end we have the individual actively creating what pleases
them and on the other hand we have the individual whose only
participation is to have the necessary technological device and enjoy
the event. The football world cup is such an event where we are expected
to sit in front of the telly and enjoy the games. In other words
creating an entertainment event requires economic, financial and
technology as much as other activities of human beings.

But somehow we feel that entertainment is special from the other
activities we engage in. For example, most people would agree that
theatre plays, concerts and dance shows should have very little VAT
imposed on the entrance ticket. But why not for football matches and
sports car racing, such as Formula 1?

One reason is that we regard entertainment activities as cultural
activities as well; or at least many entertainment activities. Indeed,
cinema, theatre, music, dance, books and plays are closely associated
with culture. And we want that these activities are promoted and
supported; indeed companies go out of their way to sponsor the right
activities that fit their corporate profile.

But the entertainment industry could easily be regarded as a political
force as much as any other group of people. Today we understand by the
entertainment industry entertainment activities organised as a
commercial concern for profit. Thus a drama group organising a play at
the local theatre is probably not part of the entertainment industry,
but a Hollywood film is, or an international pop group is part of the
entertainment industry. And, therefore, whilst the cinema is part of our
culture, blockbusters from Hollywood are first and foremost a business

Indeed, the globalisation of Hollywood and the Hollywood effect
(behaving like Hollywood celebrities with all the trappings) are also
regarded as part of the social and political survival game, but at a
global level. Hollywood is probably more influential in shaping
political thinking and social ideas by individuals throughout the world
than say the US military. Rambo is has more influence in Russia or China
than all the Purple Heart heroes since the award was created. Hollywood
successfully promotes the American dream in other countries than say the
constitution of the USA. As far as I know very few people want to go to
the US because of the First Amendment (Amendment I), but people do go to
the US to try their luck at the American dream. Indeed, I would say that
due to global communication the American dream has become the First
World Dream.

The bottom line is that probably entertainment has evolved from a time
together round the camp fire, to a huge industry with probably more
political and social influence than the military establishment. But does
this mean that just because an activity is labelled as entertainment it
is immune from responsibilities other activities are legally or morally
bound by?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Entertainment

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