We are bombarded with a lot of ideas about what we should focus our attention upon. Some are opportunistic, but many are part of a much broader agenda.
We expect our entertainment to provide a relief from the pressures of what goes on in the rest of our lives. We choose to lower our guard so that we can allow ourselves to be immersed in the entertainment. The many who feel their lives are monotonous or boring want entertainment that shocks or thrills them. To all, its an escape from the rest of our lives.
For the entertainment industry, it is their livelihood, and so they take it very seriously. To maximise their investments, they try to find ways to tap into what people will pay for. Since people want an experience, which is mainly emotional, tapping into peoples' emotional desires has proved lucrative. While just reacting to what people want works, it is not reliable, as the masses can be fickle. To combat the fickleness, the entertainment industry seeks to define the narratives so that they can make their incomes more reliable.
Most people have to spend most of the awake hours working or at school, but the music industry hardly focuses upon that at all. What people do have difficulty emotionally navigating is relationships, and this is where so many songs have their focus, exploiting peoples' insecurities. Paul McCartney wrote a song positing that there is nothing wrong about silly love songs, but when most songs focus on exactly that, and people hear them for hours a day, perhaps while they work, is it a wonder that their thoughts are focused upon their relationships or lack of them?
With a heightened focus upon peoples' relationships and sex, the sister industry to entertainment, advertising, exploits the emotions to push products and services as way to express or deal with the emotions. So we get a plethora of gifts to prove our love, or products that will help us appear more attractive. Of course, none of these really make an ongoing difference, but can be a distraction from what will make long-term differences. But that is the point, as helping people actually live without the need for products undermines most business models.
While songs about relationships are a largely reactionary response to known emotional insecurities, the entertainment industry has long been part of trying to set a long-term moral and cultural agenda. The cold war turned the Hollywood movie machine into a propaganda arm for the conservative side of politics, focusing on individualism and patriotic fervour as a counter to what was straw-manned as collectivism. Ideals of what it meant to be an American abounded as a way to channel the thoughts and actions of US citizens and others. It was a continuation of war-time programming.
The 1960s brought a revolution in mass thinking about alternate ways to live. It wasn't so much about new ideas, but an influx of ideas from around the world that had hitherto been suppressed or just ignored in mass media. People were being inspired to actually change how they lived their lives. However, as the decade wore on, thinking became more introspective, and while that prompted many to become interested in spirituality outside religion, it also opened people to their insecurities, and we know who was vitally interested in tapping into those.
So, while thinking was more liberal socially, the renewed focus upon the self was exploited in entertainment and advertising to again focus on individualism and selfishness. At this time, the Christian right saw a way to gain the power to set the US moral agenda, backing Ronald Reagan as president. The campaign largely relied upon individual selfishness as a counter to government spending upon people, but really giving justification for the selfishness of the wealthy while crippling the ability of people to unionise as a way to improve their working conditions.
All of this is hardly surprising as the entertainment and advertising industries are run by wealthy and exploitative people who will not allow their businesses to challenge the privilege of those like them. Even those who set up the new digital media have joined their ranks as the dramatic swelling in their wealth has put them in the same circles as the titans of the old media.
Every social movement is mined for opportunities to be exploited and eventually neutralised by focusing on its superficial aspects. Feminism was reduced to songs about bad relationships and rom-coms about supposedly strong women who just wanted a man. Trivialising endemic problems is what the entertainment industry does best. News has become entertainment as talk shows trivialise news items into an oblivion of banter and ridicule. Entertainment has become a wall of bland noise that rather than distracting us, seeks to make us meek and uninspired so that we just accept our lot.
There is a lot we can do to undo this programming, but all of them require us to stand up for ourselves, both individually and collectively. Individuals cannot be free if collectively weak, and vice versa. If wanting distractions, learn about something of interest, especially if it is creative. Relying upon others for entertainment is what sets us up for exploitation. Do it for its own sake, as it is the desire for so-called fame that has resulted in so many being sacrificed on the altar of the entertainment industry.
Seek ways to make everyday life not something to seek escape from, even if that means getting off the stress treadmill. Is so much money needed for a comfortable and happy life? Avoid getting caught up in the glamours promoted by the entertainment and advertising industries. They do not have our best interests at heart. Letting go of the many things we gather around us so that we can fool ourselves into thinking we are successful can allow us to actually be successfully managing our lives.
When we clutter our minds with false status symbols, we buy into a path of useless accumulation, which bleeds our finances and sabotages our independence. Undoing such habits of mind allows us to not only see the delusion we have wrapped ourselves in, but avoid falling for new ones. Having a free mind allows us to be open to what we really can be doing to make ours and other lives better. It is hard to be inspired when our minds are cluttered and our emotions are hijacked, but we can choose to be free of them. Take that step!
One of the problems with tying creativity to making a living is the tendency to fall into well-trodden thematic patterns because they are seen as more likely to provide a quicker income. There is more to life than just inventing get-rich-quick schemes or churning out so-called romantic literature that is little more than thinly-disguised objectivisation of young women for male sexual fantasies. Writing fiction can provide a host of new possibilities for what societies can be or new realms of thought that are free of the misanthropic perversions of the past.
Creativity isn't expensive at all, despite what billionaires seemingly claim as their monopoly on it. Words can inspire people to change their beliefs, but not when we limit ourselves to appealing to their selfish desires and prejudices. Stop hustling and be truly creative. Start somewhere and see where it goes. Dare to imagine a different world and write about it. It may just inspire some to find ways to make it a reality. All great ideas must start somewhere, but they will never become reality if not given a creative expression in some form. We just need to find the medium that works for us.