“Are you not entertained?”

Source: episodate.com

Are you not entertained?”  So said the emperor to Russell Crowe in the feature film Gladiator.   Many in the theatre were entertained, as I’m sure many of those who were in the coliseum some 2000 years were ago were as well.

But what about today where is our coliseum?  Can we ask the same question of ourselves with youtube, and facebook, and twitter, and Netflix all running about – are we not entertained as well?

I watched an episode of the hit series Black Mirror.   A British based satire which shows all the modern ways that our morality has not yet caught up with our culture or our morality.

The first episode begins with the idea of what the Prime minister of England would do if the Royal Princess was kidnapped, and the ransom demand was that he perform lewd acts with a pig on live television broadcast to the entire world.

Although, everyone is revulsed by the idea, the episode goes on to explore how far people would go including the media to get an expose or to watch their favourite uptight serious politician be exploited and fall from his pedestal.

In the end, all the citizens hunker in, and watch the Prime Minister as he does the deed.  Everyone, could have turned off the set.  All could have decided not to watch.  But the spectacle is too much, and no one realizes that the kidnapped Princess is found before the broadcast was made, and no such deed ever needed to be committed.

Yes we all love a spectacle.  Many people are drawn in today by epic youtube fails.  Or celebrities making gaffs in public.  Or politicians making slips in front of their audience.  We all have a good laugh at their expense.

Yet, are ever entertained? It seems that the entertainment of today is no different than when individuals were thrown to the lions many years ago.  We look on, we laugh as we watch someone else immolated, embarrassed, and laid bare to public scrutiny.

This perhaps is what defines all negative forms of entertainment. One person is subjugated.  An individual is humiliated for the pleasure of the onlookers.  Perhaps we can begin to allow our morality to catch up with our media.

We can allow the quality of our entertainment to increase as we put aside forms of media which bring life neither to ourselves nor to our neighbour.

Raj Vijayakumar, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy in Toronto.

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