Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why I Do..., No. 5: Why I Love Entertainment

If there's one thing I've talked about more than anything else, it's entertainment.  Back in the day, my favorite television shows, video games, music, books, computer games, movies, celebrities, etc., were constantly the topic of conversation.  Most of my previous obsessions--or whatever you want to call them--fall into the category of entertainment, particularly the audiovisual variety.  Even though my tastes are currently broader than they've ever been, some of the media I adored when I was a kid is still among my favorites.

Truth be told, some of the entertainment I currently like I used to make fun of.  In the late '90's, I had friends who were watching some good-versus-evil cartoon, and I jokingly rooted for the bad guys.  One of my friends said, "You should root for the good guys; you know they're gonna win!", to which I replied, "Then, what's the point of watching?" Back then, I was so naive that I thought good always won in real life...but, as I grew up and faced one injustice after another, I learned that wasn't true.  In seventh grade, I was put in a different class than my friends from sixth grade...and I was none too happy about it.  I spent the whole year crusading to get my team switched, and it got me nowhere; the only one who could do anything about it was the jerk assistant principal, and she did nothing but balk.  Sure, they gave me supposed reasons why they did what they did, but it didn't seem to add up; like in many cases, the people who could have done something wouldn't, and the people who wanted to do something couldn't.  That point was driven home even further two years after I graduated from high school, when a longtime friend was kicked out of his dream college because of something he didn't do.  If it were an episode of Monk or Murder, She Wrote, his innocence would have been proven and the true culprit would have been charged...but, that never happened.

A common feeling among millenials--that is, people born between 1980 and 2000, which would include yours truly--is that the system has failed us.  Many of us went to college in hopes of finding a well-paying job, only for the economy to be so terrible we had to work well below our degree just to make ends meet.  We've also been put through the wringer by the public school system; I know I've had teachers lie to me, embarrass me and others, tear into me and/or my classmates over nothing, and, in one case, throw a temper tantrum in front of her whole class.  Unless you were homeschooled--and maybe even if you were--you people of my generation probably have similar stories.  It's kind of funny when I look back on an incident where I found out a teacher had lied to me; the people I told either said she was mistaken, or I was.  Why did they say that? Simple: They were adults.  Back when they were in school, it may have been unthinkable for a teacher to knowingly deceive a student...but, even up to that point, I'd seen that and worse.  While I had a scant few--I can only think of three--teachers who never did me wrong, most of the "good" ones I had actually did me wrong at some point; it was just that the good they did outweighed the bad, whereas some of the others did me so much wrong, they'd have had to take a bullet for me for me to give them anything higher than a "D," were I to grade all my instructors.  Too many of them I'd give an "incomplete" just because it's the absolute lowest grade; in my opinion, they don't deserve anything better.

Due to my "condition" and upbringing, I have a better idea than most about how terrible the "system" is.  You wouldn't believe the ridiculous things the insurance companies and even medical professionals such as nurse's aides said and did regarding my oldest sister, who, for those who don't know, had a severe case of cerebral palsy that made her unable to do pretty much anything, including walk, talk, or hear.  The situation got so bad at one point that my mom had to get real-life JAG officers involved.  Also, because of my "condition," I was put at the mercy of too many people who didn't know what they were doing...but sure thought they did! Add to that the fact that I grew up sans a father, and I can say without any doubt: The system has failed me!

The motivational speaker Andy Andrews tells a hilarious story of participating in little league baseball.  Long story short, a new coach tells the team to "take a rap" and "pray hard," and they can't figure out why...until they hear him speaking of "basebar" and "basebar prayers".  After they figured out that he couldn't say his "L's," they had a field day making fun of him...but the funniest moment came when a kid got taken off the team through no fault of his own.  When the coach announced it to the team, he tried to say, "It's not his fault; it's the system's fault," but, due to his speech impediment, the word "fault" came out sounding like a slang word for a bodily function; guess which one! All joking aside, like that departing "basebar prayer," I often feel like the problems I've faced aren't my fault; they aren't my parents' fault; they aren't my friends' fault; they're the system's fault!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people condone others' sins.  Some of you may remember back in October of 2014, when I proudly announced on Facebook that I had given up the celebrity crushes.  All of my Facebook friends who saw it, even ones who barely knew me, were happy for me...except for one friend I'd known since 2000, who replied to me sharing the good news by blocking me.  I was shocked.  How could she do that? Didn't she realize what a big thing that was? Did she not know how mad her deceased mother--who adored me--would have been if she had lived to see her do that to me? When I made it public that I had unfriended someone I was romantically interested in because she had gotten engaged, I faced serious backlash; people were saying, "This is unacceptable!" and unfriending me.  I agree that was not only wrong, but unthinkable, and I regret it to this day...but, when someone did essentially the same thing to me, all I got was defense! Seriously? What happened to "Rejoice with those who rejoice"? It may not have been made public, but, that doesn't make it any less sinful.

It also seems that too many Christians don't take their faith seriously.  Of course we want to get to heaven--everyone should, considering the alternative!--but, too many times, people of the Way act like new Boy Scouts who want to get Eagle, but just expect the badge handed to them; they don't want to work for it.  You wouldn't believe the defenses people have given for others' wrongdoing or even their own.  I once argued with someone who admitted that what I was telling him to do was the right thing...but still refused to do it! Does the Bible not say, "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them"? It also talks of "an unrepentant heart" being a cause of God's wrath.  I don't know about you, but, I, for one, don't want to face the wrath of God, so, I make sure my heart is as repentant as can be...but nobody else seems to; they're proud of what they've done, which bugs me to no end.

By now, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with entertainment.  Simply this: Even though the system has failed me and people often do the same, entertainment rarely does.  I'm a sucker for a good story, so, pretty much any movie or book with clean content can draw me in and keep me until the end.  I don't just watch anything that comes on television or arrives in cinemas or at the library; I handpick everything I watch, read, listen to, play, etc., to make sure it's worthwhile.  True, some family-friendly shows are not that great for other reasons; a few months ago, I was disappointed with the Legend of Zelda cartoon series, despite making a special request for it at the library...but, that's still better than most of what comes down the pipeline these days! I can count on old-school shows, Disney Channel productions, Christian media, and similar entities to pretty much always be good...but, I can't count on that from much else.

One thing I will add: Oftentimes, shows--especially sitcoms--feature conflict resolution.  In the early episodes of Home Improvement, the plot would be generally the same: Tim would get into hot water with his wife, seek advice from Wilson, and realize the error of his ways.  It was actually smart of Tim to listen to Wilson; too many people these days wouldn't listen, but instead reply with, "Forget your stupid old proverbs and ancient sayings; I'm going to do what I want to do!"...but, Tim never did.  True, situation comedies are known for solving problems in half an hour...but, some real problems would be solved much sooner if the offending party would just admit they're wrong, apologize, and make amends. Unfortunately, that seems to seldom happen in real life, so, I choose to "hang out" where it does: in fictional universes.

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