We've never loved entertainment more. In this digital age, we're consuming at least seven forms of entertainment at a time every waking second.
But while we love entertainment, we've never been worse at it. Micro-attention spans, multi-tasking, racing to judgement at the speed of the internet, binge watching until our heads explode – entertainment these days often seems more like some form of character disorder crying for professional attention than a way to enjoy and enlarge our world.
For all this we have no one to blame but ourselves. Our entertainment viewing habits, frankly, have become abysmal. So in hope of reclaiming the joy of consuming, here are our entertainment fan's New Year's Resolutions for 2015:
1. Not to Watch Things We Hate.
If visitors from 1975 suddenly disembarked from a time machine in the middle of 2015, one of the things they'd find hardest to wrap their brains around is why TV viewers today spend most of their time on shows they can't stand.
“They've even given it a name” they'd report back to their people. “They call it: Hatewatching.”
When faced with their confusion, explanations that we need “to be part of the conversation” or that it's more fun to Tweet about the bad would fall away.
On the road to happiness, before we can get to the things that bring us joy, surely we need to cast out the things that bring us despair – even if they are Tweetable and sharable.
Of course, we're in an age when hate-watching is so much a part of the national fabric, that networks make intentionally bad shows just to feed it.
But we must be strong. If we can't even stay away from things we know we don't like, what hope is there for us to ever get anything out of entertainment?
2. To Judge Entertainment on Its Own Merits, Not the Biographies of Its Creators.
This one is not easy. To live in contemporary America is to drown in information about what jackasses the members of your creative class is.
Thanks to social media, we can't look at a movie without flashing back to every intimate detail of the catastrophic romantic lives of the cast and crew, their idiotic political views, their drunken rampages, their hate crimes – you name it. It's some comfort to know it's always been so; from ancient times the lives of the artists were disaster areas. To push all that from one's mind and focus on what's on the screen is the constant challenge, especially as the online mobs stand ready to drag any work into the outrage soap opera of the moment. But pushing it away is the challenge we have to rise up to if our entire culture isn't to become an entry on TMZ.
3. To Become an Anti-Texting Vigilante.
Of all the plagues upon our entertainments, none is more horrific than the spectre of people texting during movies. Movie theaters are as close to the churches of our culture as we come today; places to step away from the trivialities of our daily lives and communally immerse ourselves in a larger vision of the human experience.
When people drag their detritus into that shrine with their texts, not only destroying the experience for themselves but with their screens for all around them, they drag this one refuge back into the pit of cultural despair, where no one can hear you scream.
Unfortunately, this pestilence is so all-pervasive we can no longer count on the authorities to just handle it for us. And many authorities are no longer willing. So here is what we propose to do when we encounter a texter in the theaters:
1. Ask him or her to stop, politely
2. Ask him or her to stop, less politely.
3.If the texter refuses to stop inform the theater manager.
4.If the manager refuses or is unable to stop them, demand a refund.
5. Inform the chain's central office about their experience and ask their official policy on texting in the theaters.
6. Share your experience with the world via any social medias at your disposal.
4. Not to Judge Films By Their Trailers
It seems these days that the marketing of the film casts a bigger presence than the films themselves. The launch of a new trailer can be a cultural moment that exceeds the impact of the film's actual opening. And with each highly anticipated new trailer, pronouncements are instantly made, positions locked in place, battle lines drawn.
As has been shown – and mocked – a million times, it is very possible to make a good trailer from a terrible movie and vice versa.
All a trailer definitively tells you is what some of the costumes in the film will look like and perhaps a couple lines of dialogue. Beyond that, it is editing magic.
We're going to try and stop judging. On watching trailers, however, we make no promises.
5. Not to Judge People By What They Like
We have become tribes largely defined by what TV shows we watch. Which means that people who watch different shows from us are no longer just people who watch different TV shows than we do, but our tribal enemies.
Obviously, this is not a healthy way to view our fellow citizens and we resolve to try and stop.
6. To Watch, See, Listen to, Consume, Devour Whatever I Want, When I Want,
This one flows from Resolutions 1 and 5 in particular, but for so much of the time these days, culture feels like a duty rather than a liberation, to be part of the conversation, to be relevant, to earn our place in the tribe.
Taking in a work of entertainment should be an act of liberating one's self from the confines of one's life, not taking on one more chore, and we need to follow that instinct wherever it takes us – be that “Real Housewives,” a Scooby Doo cartoon or “Grown Ups 2.” And if our journey be pure, we must trust in our path, wherever in the many houses of our cultural life it takes us.