In the modern publication, news and arts & entertainment have taken up two distinct sections. However, in recent years it seems that line has blurred. Entertainment has always been lurking, enticing the world with action movies and shameless EDM. But now it seems entertainment has slithered its way into almost everything else, including our news and our politics.
We live in a world where we no longer have to be bored. Smartphones and social media have whittled down our attention spans to almost nothing. Because we are constantly berated with memes and gifs, our brains refuse to accept anything that does not amuse us. We demand constant indulgence and immediate satisfaction, so the rest of the world complied.
Fifty years ago, people would watch the news for half an hour in the evening. Walter Cronkite told them “And that’s the way it is” and families went to bed content. Then, cable news networks like CNN and Fox News broke the mold by stretching 30 minutes worth of stories into 24 hours. So, the stories became more sensational to maintain viewers. Fear mongering became common practice. These infotainment networks built kingdoms out of not actually reporting the news, but having a panel of “experts” regurgitating others’ reporting and vehemently disagreeing with one another. News insidiously became editorialized chest thumping. This is why Rachel Maddow or Bill O’Reilly became so popular.
This is also why the Buzzfeed model has been so popular. No one cares to read a full story, they just want the superficial recap so they can seem informed to their friends. I am not saying journalism is forbidden from being entertaining. It should have a voice and a slant, but, more importantly, it should be accurate. A little C-SPAN sterility is needed. It’s necessary to be bored every now and again.
According to my limited and idealistic knowledge of political history, there was a time when politics was so unentertaining that only dedicated, intelligent people paid attention and participated. Now that politics is as convenient as entertainment, every half-wit has a half-baked political perspective. Worse yet, they are granted a platform for it, allowing them to entertain themselves in full view of the viral universe.
Donald Trump won the presidency because of the world’s appetite to be entertained. Hillary Clinton was more intelligent and more qualified, but she may be one of the least entertaining people in the history of human existence. Say what you wish about Donald Trump, he is entertaining as hell. He is a trained entertainer, he comes from the world of “The Apprentice” and Wrestlemania. He is loud, brash and he blurts out any crude thought which pops into his head. He stood out in the GOP, a sea of excruciatingly boring candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich. He started as a joke, but people kept his campaign alive out of the terror that they would have to actually have to sit and pay attention to actual politics.
Even other forms of entertainment have taken advantage of the Trump presidency, a product of the age of entertainment. Comedians act like they are on some holy quest when they make fun of Trump, but the likes of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Jim Jefferies are all profiting off him. Saturday Night Live loves to pick Trump apart, but when Trump was campaigning they invited him to host because they knew it would gain viewership. Every now and then you will hear someone say “Why do our politicians make us laugh and our comedians make us think,” implying that comedians are smarter than politicians, but this is not the case. The real reason is that we can’t process news that isn’t coated in irony designed to make us laugh. It’s all one and the same, a vicious cycle. Furthermore, comedians never have any enlightening insight. Instead of dissecting his true danger, they always defer to petty insults like his spray tan or his small hands. This has inspired a flurry of piss poor Trump impressions to be heard around campus.
So now we have one of the most polarized political landscapes in American history with a generation who get trickle down news from clickbait titles, political sentiments reduced to 140 characters, videos of people screaming at one another on youtube. This leads to movements like political correctness or the alt-right because it’s entertaining to believe there is an “us” and a “them,” and that the “us” is on a noble crusade to save the world, and the “them” is not only wrong but dangerous.
Maybe it’s not all bad. If the Nevada Sagebrush follows suit and becomes entirely entertainment-driven, then that would make me the editor-in-chief. Look forward to online-only listicles of funny faces made by Mike Pence. Get your pop-up blockers ready.