When did we become so grey and humorless–
–when did we become people who carry the weight of the world on our shoulders –all of it–taking ourselves and everything around us far too seriously?
I can hear the click of outraged responses on social media now. But hey, take a moment to hear me out:
Yes, serious things are going on in the world. Bad things. We do what we can. Some do more than others.
But we can only do so much. Every waking moment can not be spent pushing an agenda and defending a position. The purpose of entertainment is to give us a break. That’s why it’s called “entertainment.”
And one size does not fit all. You do not have to be entertained by the same things that entertain me. It’s ok to have individual differences. And there are HUGE, VAST DIFFERENCES in the way different cultures view the world and yes, even entertainment.
That’s ok. We are all different. We view the world through our own cultural lens. We don’t have to view entertainment through everyone’s filter. Our own is enough. One size does not fit all.
Everyone’s a critic
But in today’s social media climate, everyone is a critic, everyone feels they have to weigh in with their own pronouncements of what we should all be thinking.
Not every piece of entertainment has to have a political or societal message. Our films, television shows and other entertainment don’t always have to reflect the injustices of the world. Yes, there is injustice in the world. Lots of it. Yes, life can be unfair. All that can happen AND we can escape into fantasy. Into satire, into comedic entertainment. Our version of it. Which might not be someone else’s.
The danger of PC Police
Humor and escapism are not always politically correct. And yet, they can be enjoyed –for example, as satire. Where would Archie Bunker be today? That show would be vilified. And yet, in its way, it shined a light on the way things are. But…Not. Politically. Correct.
Not every film, TV show or book has to reflect all aspects of a culture. They’re not all documentaries. They are entertainment and that sometimes requires taking a snippet of a situation and painting with a broad brush. Exaggerated. Comedy often requires a fall guy. It’s better if we are our own.
My own culture is often portrayed in dramatic and sensational ways. But I know that not every Sicilian is Mafioso and I also know that the Godfather portrays a segment of my culture that is very real. That resonates. I do not need the Italian-American Anti-Defamation Society to initiate a boycott of movies that portray the dark side of my culture. Because it exists. Pretty much the way it’s depicted.
Take my culture. Go on, take it!
I have no problem with that. And I have no problem with comics satirizing my culture. It does not offend me.
I know many Jewish women who find Mrs. Maisel amusing. Yes, it satirizes the culture. No, it doesn’t reflect the entire society as it is or even at times as it was. It is fluff. If you don’t find it funny move on to one of the other 10 zillion opportunities for entertainment that exist.
Here’s the thing about stereotypes: they are rooted in truth. There is always a segment of a culture they reflect. That doesn’t mean that every part of that culture is that way. I can laugh at a stereotype and then move on.
Just because the TV show, All Rise, doesn’t depict the justice system as it really is, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy escaping into the character of a judge who actually takes the big picture into account. Yes, it’s fantasy. But fantasy has always been a refuge in a tough world. Why would we want to take that away?
The moral high horse is wobbly. Listening to people’s brittle fragility is tiresome.
Every show does not have to depict the world the way we want it to be. Or as it actually is.
Fantasy is not a bad thing
We’ve lost our willingness to accept fantasy, fiction, fairy tale. And our appetite for clever satire or even just fun satire is waning.
It’s time we remind ourselves of this: We do not have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders every minute of every day.
We can and should laugh, play and be entertained. Escape. God knows, there’s reason to want to escape the real world. And sometimes, yes, we can even let writers make fun of ourselves.
Especially ourselves. And enjoy it.