From real money apps for betting to movie streaming on demand, there’s never been a time when instant entertainment has been easier to come by. There are now so many different forms of entertainment to choose from that deciding what we want to do with our free time has almost become a chore. Much of this entertainment can be accessed through our phones or our computers, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had out in the ‘real world.’
The early days of entertainment
As long as human beings have had intelligence and imagination, they’ve looked for ways to entertain themselves. The big change came when people started manufacturing entertainment or providing it as a service for other people. When this happened, we had the beginnings of theater, music and storytelling.
Is it art?
When looking at the origins of entertainment, it’s hard to distinguish it from the history of art. Theater, painting and poetry are regarded as art, but they can also be forms of entertainment. How can we make the distinction between the two? Art is trying to express something profound and often personal. It might experiment in a way that is hard to understand at first, which can limit its value as entertainment.
At the end of the day, we can say that some art is also entertainment (but not all) and some entertainment (but not all) is also art. Great writers such as Shakespeare and Dickens wrote to entertain their audiences and readers first and foremost, and their work is none the worse for it. Today, forms of entertainment such as video games are being treated as art by critics. Perhaps it’s all a question of perspective.
The role of technology
For many years, theater and musical performances were the main forms of popular entertainment. The invention of the printing press and widespread literacy made books, magazines and later comic books available as entertainment for the public. Sheet music could also be printed so that people could sing and play popular songs in their own homes.
Next, we had the evolution of recording technology, leading to gramophone records, radio and cinema. Television soon followed and then early video games, and eventually the internet. We can see that the forms of entertainment available have always been dictated by the level of technology, and also that as soon as a new technological development is made public, a new form of entertainment will arrive on the back of it.
Supply and demand
Entertainment has also proliferated as more people have more leisure time, and also a greater surplus income to spend on it. Entertainment will always be popular because it’s fun: people want to be entertained, and are willing to spend their wages on the latest novelty. For this reason, the entertainment sector is a big-money industry. This means that a lot of money is also spent on promoting the latest films, games, musical artists and so on in what is an extremely competitive business.
Any time, any place
Today’s entertainment formats are notable for their convenience as well as the interest they offer. An app on your phone can be enjoyed at any time of the day or night, wherever you are. This means that there’s no longer any reason to be bored on long journeys or when traveling away from home. These forms of entertainment are competing to fill up every second of our lives with fun and distractions.
Is it too much?
Some would argue that we now have too much choice when it comes to entertainment, and that this could stop us from thinking for ourselves or make us less able to concentrate on difficult tasks. While these critics may have a point, it’s worth remembering that they said the same thing about mass-produced books, radio and early video games. More choice means exactly that, and more challenging forms of art are also far more accessible than they have ever been before, as well as games or movies for when you just want to stop thinking and relax.
The internet is an incredible resource, providing every individual user with a near-infinite library of words, pictures, films, games, music and TV shows that would take hundreds of lifetimes to exhaust. As well as the latest offerings, many examples from the history of any given medium are also more widely available than ever before. We live in extraordinary times, with modern entertainment more complex and sophisticated than our ancestors could ever have dreamed of.