On the effect of entertainment


A movie I saw decades ago still sticks with me today. It wasn't in English, and I don't remember the entire storyline (still think a spoiler alert's merited, though) but it involved a harsh-voiced caretaker commanding her charge to stay in a safe location while a sweet-voiced doppelganger called out for the child to come to her - to be eaten, if I remember correctly.

(Lest the person of my acquaintance who held that position in the loosest sense of the word mistake this memory for a point in her favor, I also remember Polaroids, bird's eye chilis, and baby photos.)

The point that that scene made for me then is something I can better articulate today - nice isn't enough.

Cut to the present day where one can be quite intelligent and still spout fashionably nice phrases in ridiculous situations, like saying one's against animal cruelty while watching a bleeding goat... undergoing a medical procedure on a vet show.

Entertainment is in no way blind to the effect it has, but if it's so important to follow the fashion it sets in order to pull an audience, then follow a fashion. Nurse a discordant mob with shade, and promote issues that favor one side of a political divide while glossing over others that don't. Or maybe apologize for examining both sides of a situation (never have I been more relieved to see a retraction). Or soothe readers with studies on reality that isn't. But I think there's enough awareness now of the effect such things have, and these nice little anodynes don't serve.

(Addendum - with condolences to those who've lost people, may there be enough who are aware of the point repeatedly made that existing laws, say against theft and underage ownership, do not stop those who are willing to break them, and neither will newer ones. If any legislator should want to complain about that point, they've chosen the wrong scapegoat, and as a result are ignoring other potential causes of the problem and, therefore, potential remedies.)

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