I was thinking about the disposable quality of entertainment today. Possibly because it's Saturday afternoon, and the world outside is filled with a lazy, empty quality and my plans for tonight got moved to tomorrow night. But possibly not. It's hard to say. Thoughts come and go and the ones that flow into my head do so without any specific reasoning.
Anyhow, I got thinking. Always a bad idea, really, and I returned to my long running thought about entertainment being disposable--which is not a new or original thought--and about the fact that it's made to be consumed, to be used up and then tossed away without much thought given at all.
This is perhaps why poetry and so called literary novels are no longer embraced in huge ways. They're entertainment, but in the social fabric of today, poetry and literacy come with a cultural weight, an importance to it that resists the five minute drop in, drop out mentality that exists within entertainment. Poetry suffers the most, because it's taught as something important, but rarely does it have to be. Last year when I taught in Creative Writing A, Paul Dawson gave a lecture on why bad poetry is often dismissed as not being poetry at all, rather than just the work of a shit poet. His point (and I think I'm chucking a bit of my own opinion in this, since it was a while back now) was that poetry has been given a position in society where it can't be bad, where it has to have a cultural weight, where it's either good poetry... or just not poetry at all. You can see the same thing in literary novels, which is one of the more ridiculous genre terms for fiction. Anyhow, when a literary novel doesn't meet the reader's expectations or fails, it's often dismissed, either by being put into a genre ("It's just a crime novel," it is said about Chandler) or with the all purpose reply, "It wasn't literature."
The result of this is that people, when confronted with literature and poetry, have the misconception that they will have to appreciate it more and that they will have to give it more attention. It's a bit ridiculous. You take what you take from any form of entertainment, and you can read it on a literal of figurative level, or both, depending on what takes your fancy.
Still, what I was thinking about, was how entertainment scars you, much in the way a tattoo does.
Tattoos, it was once said to me, mark you for the person you once were. They operate as a sign on your skin for who you were when you got it, and what you were going through. Now, I don't have tattoos, myself, but that's always struck me as the reason to have one. To mark a moment. A time. The achievement of something that matters in your life. What I would be marked for and what I wouldn't is my business and I don't intend to get into that, thank fuck, but still, that's how I look at it. Of course, I know people with tattoos who aren't into it for that reason. For them, it's about art, about the body, and about a whole lot of other things that aren't something I can properly argue and which is best left to them. Besides which, that side of it doesn't suit my argument, so you'll have to excuse me as I gloss over it.
In my post about music
, I made note of once liking Metallica, which I did. I don't much have a thing for them now, and indeed, haven't bought any of their recent albums, but the simple fact that I liked them works much like a tattoo, in that it has scarred me for a time. When I look back, I can see the different between the fourteen year old me then, and the twenty eight year old me now. It's like looking at a reflection in a mirror at the end of the hall. Lift my hand, wave, and the mirror does it, but the mirror me has long hair, band t-shirts, busted up sneakers, ripped jeans, and maybe a little too much of what would eventually become grunge in him. It's a person that's marked by his consumption of Metallica, Anthrax, Guns N Roses, and so on and so forth of bands like that. It's the person who is marked by his consumption of monster fantasy series like the Eddings' Belgariad
, Feist's Magician
, Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance books, and Brooks' series, the name of which I've forgotten how to spell.* There was television, most of which is eluding me with the exception of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
and movies like Terminator 2
, Star Wars
and, oddly, Disney films. It's a pretty boring list, but it's whatever allowed me to get my mind out of school and life, y'know?
When I look back at those marks, there's the cringe factor for those tastes. I have to admit that. Most of that stuff I came into contact through friends, since there was no internet, and no nurturing world for anything resembling thought in that prison of a High School I want to.** Not, naturally, that I showed any. But I'm not one to cut that place any slack and still, my point remains:
The person I am now is not the person who once liked those things, but I live with the scars left by digesting those pieces of entertainment.*** The knowledge that resides in the back of my head is the first part to beginning the recollection in my memory of the teenager I was, the world that I came from. The scars of this entertainment consumption can't be erased, because I can't ever fully forget them, and so they sit there, a bit faded, the colour of flesh, sure, but like the long strip of ridged, burnt flesh I have on the inside of my right leg, from where I got my leg trapped and burnt it on the muffler of a motorbike when I was eight. Sure, it has become smaller as I've grown, but it's there.
It'll always be there.
Maybe entertainment is not as disposable as I sometimes think.
* In case you're wondering, I thought Lord of the Rings was shit, even then. Fucking Hobbits.
** It really does look like a prison. Maybe I'll go and take photos of it.
*** It occurs to me that scars is perhaps too invasive a word to be using now, but I'm not truly bothered by this. Still, if you're thinking, that's a bit overly dramatic, then yeah, you're probably right.