Entertainment Vs Technique: Part 1

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.

What do you think? Is being Entertaining really enough? Is there room for all types of art? Would love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below!

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16 thoughts on “Entertainment Vs Technique: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Entertainment Vs Technique: Part 2 – Audience and Passion – Clockwork Clouds

  2. I also think there is room for both, Shaun. In fact, I think there is room for “many.” If I have to watch the same sort of film or read the same sort of book over and over again, I think I’d stop watching movies and reading books. Sometimes I want Alien versus Predator, other times Monty Python and the Holy Grail and still other times Driving Miss Daisy. And that doesn’t even account for the wide variety of preferences among consumers in general. It’s a great subject matter for debate, but when it comes down to it, I think anything well-made will find an audience. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Anything well-made will find an audience” is a great closing line there. I completely agree, in fact ‘Part 2’ of my post (on Monday) deals with the impact audience has πŸ™‚

      I like taking these kinds of debates, ones that utilise two extremes, and breaking them down into why they’re pretty much nonsense… but there’s normally something interesting within them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband, when he was a single man, would make spaghetti and fried egg sandwiches with cheese. He bought spinach and cranberries and called it a salad. He felt perfectly satisfied with his efforts. He likes good food, but really didn’t see the value or the utility in spending more time making food just for himself. But, he’ll spend hours researching a car purchase, or reading reviews of camping gear to find the exact right thing. He invests in what he values. I think we’re all like this. We invest and prioritize the things that matter to us. A writer who loves words won’t abuse them. He or she will work to master the craft and care that it’s done well.
    If we love entertainment, and that’s our goal–to offer an escape, invite joy, laughter, a racing heart . . . we’ll invest in doing it well as creators. And as consumers, we’ll seek out what we see as “quality” work.
    We need both paperclips and computers: the simple and the complex. Each serves a purpose and when done right, we find beauty and connection. When done poorly, even the most important message fails. A poorly written blog post won’t communicate the writer’s purpose effectively, or as effectively. So it’s in a creators best interest to know what we’re trying to achieve and care about the results. But where it doesn’t matter as much–when less effort still serves the purpose, there’s nothing wrong with that. It won’t be elevated to the status of “art.” But not everything, in my opinion, should or needs to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Firstly, I love that analogy about your husbands eating/cooking habits! Haha. He sounds exactly the same as me, if I’m cooking just for me the quality of food (and the energy required to make it) takes a huge dip…. But new technology? I’m researching that for yonks.

      I think you touch something there that I didn’t really think about, and don’t even mention in part 2 (Coming Monday! *wink wink*) The idea of how much value we put into our own work…. “A Writer who loves words wont abuse them” is a lovely sentiment with that. I suppose the question comes from when someone loves, but doesn’t have the required skills… They wont abuse with intent, but perhaps through inexperience?

      You’re also right in that “not everything needs to be art”, but then we start openning the can of worms “what is art?” haha. That’s been a subject sitting in my drafts for awhile.

      Really great comment, gave me a lot to think about! I might need to work on a part 3 for all this…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re right, lacking skills does cause unintentional injury. All of us continue to build our expertise, no matter how “masterful” we may be. I think it’s a mindset more than an outward appearance. And it assumes we’re continuing to try to improve, rather than feeling comfortable that we’ve “made it.” That, I believe, differentiates the artist–discovery, curiosity, ongoing pursuit.
        Art does have a slippery definition. And I won’t be able to get any closer than others have. But, to me, art begins with the intention at craftsmanship, the desire to connect the individual to the collective or to the divine in some way. Art takes me out of myself to a state of admiration or contemplation. Doesn’t has to last long, but has to exist for me to see it as art–and that’s as much on me as it is on the creator. We have to want to see art, to see it.
        There’s a lot to think about with that for sure!
        Looking forward to part 2 and maybe part 3. πŸ™‚

        Like

  4. Is blogging about writing the reality TV of writing? Ha! I never though of that. It sort of feels that way sometimes. I think, all in all, there has always been room for both. Genre fiction derives much of its legacy from the pulp fiction era and works that were not written, nor read, to be artistic. I preference a good story over anything else. I don’t care how good the writing is, if it’s not taking me on an adventure and introducing me to fun characters, I’ll pass. I would probably consider much of what I write to be pulp, but I’ll wear that as a badge of honor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’d agree with that preference. I think a piece of work that intends to be ‘entertaining’ can also display good use of technique/artistic merit… But if something is purely invested in the latter, it often runs the risk of not being entertaining at all. It’s a balance, and I think it’s more heavily weighted towards the entertaining!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice piece! One critical thing I think you allude to, but worth stressing more – is that the type of work you do depends on the market you are targeting. If you WANT to make a blockbuster filler type movie – there’s a market for that, but if you want to make a highly technical study of cinematography and light with moody undertones and long patches of stillness to appreciate the lens used in the shot – there’s a market for that too πŸ™‚ Don’t try to sell the Rock to the pretentious cinemaphile – and vice versa – The market defines the type of work – or it should do, in my opinion! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Audience is a very good thing to take into account! It’s why nothing can be distilled to this ‘is there room for entertainment’ question. Though, I would argue that sometimes one Audience is targeted a lot more than the other… but I still think there’s a lot of choice and option out there. There’s even films/media that aims to span the gaps.

      We live in a time where we really do have a lot of choice and selection!

      Liked by 2 people

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