Remember When Entertainment Was Entertaining?
Is it so wrong to just want to know what salad Kourtney is eating, and not why we should be saving the world?
Remember when entertainment was, well, entertaining? When the only thing you’d need to think about when you were Keeping Up With the Kardashians was whether Kim was dating a bad boy, if she was going to have a big salad for lunch, or whether her contouring was on point.
There was never any indication you’d have to “keep up” with her as she stormed the White House, God love her (and I do love her), speaking to the President about prison reform. None at all.
Remember when Donald Trump was simply that guy you imitated when you didn’t like something someone did at school or work and you’d simply turn around and say “You’re fired”, then chortle happily to yourself at your ability to use pop culture references so easily?
These days the very notion of doing an impression of Trump seems … well, even hideous isn’t a strong enough word.
And today you can’t turn on the TV or see an award show or heck even scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing some A-lister (or — shiver — a D-lister) asking for your attention for a cause. I am lost in a mire of hashtags and referendums and celebrities wearing t-shirts about amendments — and yes, visiting Washington — and sometimes I just want to watch The Bachelor without feeling guilty for not being Amal Clooney.
I’m just going to say it. A part of me misses entertainment. Mindless entertainment.
I used to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for Pete’s sake. Nowadays I feel guilty if I don't watch The Project, 730 Report, Four Corners and Q&A, all while scrolling through news sites on my phone. I used to watch George Clooney films without thinking I should really do something better with my life. As a magazine addict I’d be obsessed with Angelina Jolie’s love life and not the work she does speaking out against violence against women in war zones. Now -- quite rightly -- I can’t separate the two.
I confess I sometimes secretly watch reality TV when my husband is out or asleep -- you’ve heard of micro-cheating, right? I sometimes feel like I’m having a very trashy secret affair with Mark Wahlberg and his family from their show, Wahlburgers.
So what has changed to seemingly mean entertainment is no longer just entertaining? When did celebrities suddenly get on our case to save the world? If you ask the experts, they’ll say not much has changed actually, that the entertainment industry has always been political and to a degree they’d be right, of course. Charlie Chaplin’s films took on immigration authorities and efficiency measures like the assembly line to the point where he was seen as pro-communist and he was forced to leave the US; Brigitte Bardot was a forceful animal activist way before Pamela Anderson met PETA, Nixon used his relationship with entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr to win over young voters; Ronald Reagan was an actor and then president long before Trump for goodness sake.
But the difference is clear -- the world is an increasingly horrible place, the divide between rich and poor so great — and social media has given everyone a voice for change. Celebrities are using theirs. And, good on them.
There are conversations that need to be had that those in the entertainment industry are having — about #metoo of course, whether women are being paid less, Trump, whether Hollywood represents Muslims and African Americans correctly, gun control, repealing the 8th in Ireland, gay marriage laws here in Australia. The list goes on. And if Jimmy Fallon shows up to talk gun reform, people listen. Magda Szubanski almost singlehandedly got the gay marriage vote through, don't forget.
And look. It’s great. I am all about #metoo. I am totally pro-gun control, for getting rid of Trump, I’m obsessive about gay rights, about women’s bodies being our own, about refugee rights and banning plastic bags, and I totally think Kim should be applauded not ridiculed for using her public platform for reform. I totally admire celebrities who protest for those who don’t have the privilege to do so -- because of their status, beliefs or economy. They have a voice. And even though I never thought I’d care what Kim said about anything other than the dressing on her lunch, I do. Very much.
It’s just that, well, sometimes I just want to be entertained like in the old days. And I know I’m in a position of privilege when I say this, but hear me out.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I just want to see which salad Kourt got from Health Nut in Calabasas or what colour Khloe’s hair is, I just want to find out whether Mark Wahlberg’s mum had a nice birthday and who Angelina is dating… and just leave it at that.
Is that so wrong?