Entertainment and Meta Entertainment

What did we do before mass entertainment? How did we amuse ourselves? By playing games. First parlour games like charades, then board games like Monopoly. Then came the radio, movies, television, mass entertainment. In the popular telling of this history, we became passive consumers of entertainment…only we didn’t. While watching TV became a cornerstone of our culture, we found a way to participate through water cooler discussion. We’d come to the office with  “Did you see …?”, “Wasn’t it hilarious when…?”, “What do you think’s gonna happen when…” We had a natural instinct to want to participate. The brains behind the entertainment content clued in fast and figured they had a whole new product to sell, entertainment content about…entertainment. Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine.  Stories about the people making the stories that we all wanted to talk about. But now we’re living in a Post McCluhan world. The media is no longer the message, now the messenger is the message.  “The people formerly known as the audience” who have sort of participated in the creative process now they have easier access to the factors of entertainment production. They’ve become active participants. Some have even become co-creators (think of all the “Make McCain Great” entries on the Stephen Colbert show last year). Entertainment is no longer consumed at face value. Fans can quickly look up  behind the scenes stories and critical commentary but they also create parodies, spinoffs, fan fiction. This meta entertainment has become as important as entertainment itself.

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