Is being entertaining good enough? Or should our work reach new technical heights?
Recently I’ve been seeing a discussion flying around the internet. I first saw it centered around Films, then after I saw it get mentioned somewhere else regarding Video Games, and, it seems as though it’s a discussion that could aptly apply to any form of media.
The question the discussion all centered around was: “Is it enough for something to be Entertaining?” or “Is entertainment enough?”
When we consume the latest thing, the latest film at the cinema, the latest book to hit our local book store, the latest game available to download through a client of your choice, we are going to have an opinion on it; it’s either going to be the best thing ever, not as good as something else, or somewhere in between. Sometimes something might simply be filler, white noise, think Summer blockbuster with no real heart.
A few people within the discussion seemed to think that media relying purely on being “entertaining” was watering down our culture; that work was getting less impressive in favor of a quick high. I can see the point. With the accessibility of the internet, we live in a time where Books and Video Games (especially) can be created, marketed, and sold by every day people, and whilst this is obviously a blessing for many of us, it does open up a floodgate. Within this deluge of content we may drown in lackluster entertainment; the reality TV shows of other media (That wouldn’t be blogging would it? I hope not!). It’s within here we risk losing truly great work, unseen by the masses, and settle for that of a lower quality.
The most interesting aspect of this discussion, was when I saw someone ask “What is the best Film you’ve ever seen? and What is your Favourite?“; spoiler is that nobody stated the same two films. We may appreciate one Film for its technical mastery, but it might be far from our favourite film. If I’m relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, I can tell you right now I’d be choosing to watch The Rock (one of my Favourite action films of all time; despite my contempt for recent Michael Bay work) over something more technically pleasing like The Godfather, or the work of Kubrick.
So then, I argue that there is certainly room for both and it’s heavily reliant on content, mood and audience. If something succeeds at being entertaining, doesn’t that mean it’s well made and serves it’s purpose? Whereas when something is technically well crafted, it can still fail at entertaining. In terms of blogs, there are many blogs out there written by people who aren’t necessarily the best, most technical writers, but perhaps it’s the emotion they write with, or the content that they provide, that makes them well worth a follow and a read. At the end of the day, I think something has to at least be structurally sound to be enjoyable, and if you’ve produced something that someone can enjoy you’ve probably hit your goal.
The more technical pieces out there are the pieces that push their art forms. They’re books, films, photographs that really broaden our horizons in terms of what we can achieve. In an ideal world, we’d constantly be evolving lest we stagnate, but I think in actuality that is far too much pressure for all of us to reach for. With so many of us, there’s got to be people in the middle and even people at the bottom. I don’t even view it as negative; there’s space for us all. That leaves room for the artists out there, those who really are reaching those heights, those that really are setting themselves apart with their skills and visions. They pave a way for us all to follow, they cultivate new methods for the rest of us to use, and they give us hope that we can use them well. I’m fully aware that I wont ever redefine literary media, but hopefully at some point I can produce something that’s structurally sound, whilst being entertaining and, all being well, that will be enough.