Due to a secluded childhood in a religious family, for many years my exposure to most entertainment was quite limited. Now, as an adult, I am very often disappointed in the quality of entertainment in all forms, whether it be movies, comics, or games. Don’t even ask me about popular books these days. In order to suspend my disbelief (more on this in a later blog), entertainment must hit a number of points on the quality checklist I have in my head. I have had my selective taste called into question by my friends many times, (::cough::Andrew::cough::) most recently as I prepared for my review of Saga; so I think it would be a good thing to point out why I am so demanding, and why a more discerning consumer can only be good for entertainment. For your consideration, here is a rather foreshortened list.
First of all, any piece of entertainment—and in this case, that mostly refers to movies—that considers itself dumb entertainment (i.e. Dumb and Dumber, The Hangover 1-3, and anything with Will Ferrell) almost always gets a pass from me. This isn’t the type of entertainment that I enjoy and I definitely have a little less respect for an individual who seeks out this type of entertainment. At the same time, I also do not feel that these movies try to classify themselves as anything but stupid humor, so at least I don’t feel that the marketing hype is lying.
The next type that I see is entertainment that tries to be suspenseful and intriguing (“smart” entertainment), but in the end falls woefully short. Often this happens when a piece of entertainment, such as a movie or a book, sets up a system of natural laws that apply within the created universe of the piece, and then breaks those laws by mistake. My favorite example of this (and by favorite, I mean: the one to which I refer in my long-winded rants) is The Lake House. The idea of the movie is that a woman is able to write letters to the man who previously owned her house. The twist is that she is writing to the man two years before the present and he has since died. In the end, he stops writing, and she realizes that in his timeline, he has died, but then she is somehow able to still write him before he has died to give him instructions to avoid his fatal car accident. No matter how you work it out, the timeline of events isn’t even possible within the supernatural parameters of the of the movie.
Another issue I have that is related to item one, but can also be separated into its own class. Inconsistencies in entertainment drive me completely bonkers. Book series’s often fall into this trap in descriptions of characters—for instance, the heroine will be described with long, flowing, brunette hair and stunning, blue eyes in the first book, only to have green eyes by book three.
I’ve spoken before here on the blog about the frustration I feel with inaccurate historical portrayals, so I will not dwell on this point for too long. Suffice to say that even small details, such as the moments in Gettysburg in which the Union army is shown scraping beans from the bottom of the can, juxtaposed with a Confederate officer announcing to General Lee that there is plenty of fruit and some buckwheat pancakes to eat, can give an audience completely the wrong idea about a historical event (and subconciously advise them on which side is right and which is wrong).
Last but not least, entertainment that heavy-handedly preaches the opinion or philosophy of its creators is perhaps the most grating frustration that I have with modern media of any kind. Entertainment, for me, is an escape from a life filled with stress and frustration. I highly dislike sitting down to enjoy a good book, only to realize that the author is not telling a story, but instead preaching a social more with which I do not agree.
All in all, across all forms of entertainment medium few pieces capture my undivided attention, and leave me satisfied. This is not a bad thing! After all, the classics that have remained from by-gone eras of literature, film, and music are the solitary beacons of excellence in a sea of medocrity of their time. Therefore, with or without Andrew’s permission, I will continue to be a picky consumer with pride.