Has what we find entertaining changed?

As I move deeper into my 50’s I notice with surprise and disappointment that so many popular culture icons of my generation are either dying or are found to be amazingly old. How did this happen?

I don’t think of myself as old…. I really think of myself the same way I did when I was 18. I know a lot of things have changed: administrations, wars; Viet-Nam has somehow become Iraq, and the concept of what entertainment is has changed too. When I was young TV was all westerns, private eyes, and musical variety hours. While I wish I could have been the one to hammer the stake into the musical variety programs, I miss the westerns.

Why all the reality shows? Who really wants to watch other folks fuss about having to eat bugs for money? I mean I thought it was vastly entertaining when the big kid down the block made the whiny kid next door eat dirt. But I was six. Is this really entertaining for adults today? Why does the public or maybe why do the network suits think it is?

What does it say about folks that take time out of their day to watch this stuff?
I have this feeling of impending doom…

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Sandy Ressler

One thing I find happening with increasing frequency….watching TV with some talking head “expert” to which I wind up saying: “What is he 10 years old!!”

Paulette Neal-Allen

I’m not 50 – yet – but I find very little on TV that is entertaining, either. I mostly watch hockey, maybe some football if I want a nap. Otherwise, I turn it off before it drives me nuts 🙂

Steph Savage

Mass media is consumer-driven. Competition induces them to bring the public what they want to watch. The conventional point of view gives the media too much credit – the private good of entertainment vitiates the public good of information – it is even more wrongheaded to treat the media as the source of such mind-numbing drivel and supporting inane shows to raise network ratings. It is completely believable that this form of visual pop culture precedes modern media; it flourishes because the audience is PREDISPOSED to be receptive and the media does their best to ENTERTAIN based on these predilictions. Since scandolous behavior by celebs and willing sufferers is entertaining, the media will exploit them – – and us. But the media has a subordinate role here. If their coverage, however callous, conflicts with the viewers’ core values of entertainment, we have the rightful choice to change the channel.

Edwin J. Albetski Jr.

It’s simple numbers. Scripted TV shows are expensive. You need good writers, sets, real actors, ect. These things cost a lot of money. Do you know how much the cast of Friends eventually demanded per episode? By comparison, reality shows are a hell of a bargain. Networks can get the same ratings and advertising dollars but the “actors” are free (they’re just happy to be on TV), the “writers” are a bunch of English majors just out of college who get paid next to nothing but have an easy job (a child could construct a cohesive narrative from the endless hours of footage they shoot for these things) and who needs a set when you can just follow around a bunch of morons anywhere with a camera? The network business executive looks at this situation, does a simple cost-benefit analysis, and ta-da! a slew of reality programming.