1. Keith Trimm
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    Keith Trimm Banned

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    What is entertainment anyway?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Keith Trimm, Dec 31, 2012.

    Saw "Django Unchained" a few days ago, and although I am a huge Tarantino fan, I left wondering if what I saw was entertainment. It had the basic good guy/bad guy formula, but it also had a lot of blood and adult language. If I had left the theater and used some of the language or violence on a patron as I was heading to my car, I would have been beaten up or put in jail. Yet we all sat there and watched person after person get blowing apart, beaten, and called various names and ethnic slurs and nobody batted and eye.

    I know different people have different tastes, but when writing for a general audience, how do you know what is entertaining and what is not? When I post a book online, I want to see 5 stars rated next to it, but although I may think what I have written is great, the next guy may hate it. How can any book be honestly rated? You will never please everyone, and I think if you try to please everyone, your book will suffer.

    When I see a dislike by my book, it drives me mad and I take it very seriously. I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but I write for myself and not for anyone else. I post my work because I feel all artwork should be seen, otherwise it is pointless.

    When someone writes a best seller, what are they really writing?
     
  2. Show
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    I think you touch on two different issues in this topic.

    1. I think it's a good thing to remember that you can not please everybody. You won't do it. It's impossible. It'll never happen. I think it's just something to accept.

    2. What IS entertainment? That's a good question. I think something to consider is the idea of whether all art is actually entertainment or not. Is a movie about the perils of the holocaust entertainment? Are we really entertained by seeing innocent people slaughtered in movies? Is reading about drug abuse really entertainment? I think a lot of art is really best viewed not as entertainment but as a study of humanity. It's a look at people. I think we all have a desire to understand each other and a lot of good art taps into that desire. But at the same time, it might not be accurate to label it "entertainment."
     
  3. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    They're writing the story that speaks to them, the story that tugs at their heart strings, the story that they would want to pick up a book and read about. You can't write to try and please or appeal to others.... well, you can but such efforts are often seen through as trite and meaningless.
     
  4. Keith Trimm
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    Keith Trimm Banned

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    My last book that I posted got 9 likes and 7 dislikes. I should wear those dislikes as a badge of honor. I didn't sell out and did what I wanted. I think it's important not to please everyone all the time.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I read somewhere that a bestseller is created when a writer is passionate about what they're telling ( not doing the what-will-sell
    straddle ) and also picked a subject so universal that many people from different backgrounds can enjoy it.
    So basically it's a crapshoot fluke.
    Never worry that people don't like your work. Everyone has different tastes. Even those tastes can be further narrowed
    down. People are picky. I've learned that a long time ago. Just be passionate about what you write. Without it you
    won't fool anyone.
     
  6. LukeCampbell
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    LukeCampbell New Member

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    The standard answer of art or entertainment being subjective has always seemed like a cop out to me. It is indeed an interesting quandary. Tarantino has penetrated the mainstream, with Django registering the biggest box office draw of his career so far. Does that mean that it is a better film, or more entertaining, than his previous efforts? I cannot comment since I live in the UK and it doesn't open here till mid January (much to the annoyance of my buddies and I when we went to try watch it on Boxing Day).

    It is a process of counterculture being absorbed and repackaged and resold back for a mass audience. Marketing materials have focused on the 'event' nature of a Tarantino picture, and the inevitable debate and controversy that comes along for the ride. Using controversy as a tool to sell a product is tried and tested - it engineers a feeling that there is a level of participation. A discourse within the cultural consciousness. These days this is played out on Twitter; with many supporting the decision to 'Pulpify' Slave History and many admonishing the lack of tact. So when asking if it is entertaining to see people being blown up and N-Bombing all over the joint it is not necessarily a question of content, but rather how it is packaged.
    Our interpretation of the material defines what it is, and each interpretation of a work (whether it be art, cinema, architecture, music) is specific to ones own experiences and beliefs. Basically, if you think it is entertaining, it is entertainment. Subjective. Cop out.

    When it comes to writing to please a general audience, well, you have to visualise your audience even if your audience is yourself. It is all well and good saying "write for yourself" and that may work for many, but you have to remember you are an audience member too. So think about what movies you see, books you like to read, magazines etc etc. This is the real kicker though, because you are a well rounded person who has a broad spectrum of interests that doesn't pigeonhole into any one genre.

    So you want the 5 star reviews, the mass appeal and acceptance of your peers? Don't we all?
    You are right that your work will suffer if you try and please everyone, but the reality of it is - you are not, not if you really think about it. You have a specific audience in mind. Just picture it. You don't want to please Pig farmers in Southern Romania do you? You really want a copy of your best seller on the table of Middle Eastern despots?
    Maybe you do. I'm being facetious. My point is, use who you know. You want to write for a general audience, think about someone who doesn't read, or see movies, or engage in anything other than the 'next big thing'. Think about writing for them specifically. I find thinking of my mum helps.

    Sorry if I went off on a bit of a rant there...

    I hope it helped, but don't you go thinking about my mum!
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Oh, I forgot your main question - What is entertainment anyway?

    As far As I'm concerned - it's taking the seriousness out of a serious
    issue. Which could also be the difference between high-grade literature and beach novels,
    and Movies and 'Films'.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what is entertainment?

    to the romans, it was watching men, women and children be torn apart by lions and gladiators beat each other to death...

    to the mayans, it was playing basketball with human heads...

    to the incas, it was seeing sacrifice victims' hearts torn out while they were alive and aware of the whole process...

    today, it's watching two people beat each other to a pulp in a ring or cage and violent movies, playing violent video games...

    i'm surprised anyone would think humans have changed any--or ever would... :(
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I would value the opinions of those who liked and disliked my stories equally. Each side has legitimate and frivolous opinions. I'm reminded of an episode of Family Guy where Brian's novel is selected for some award by a book club. Turns out all the members of the club are mentally challenged.
     
  10. Keith Trimm
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    Keith Trimm Banned

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    If watching human suffering is entertaining, then why is the news so unpopular to watch? Why aren't there bleachers set up next to homeless shelters so we can all enjoy the pain and suffering of others? Maybe it's me getting older, but I don't get it. Story is about getting from point a to point b and over coming adversity. Unless it's on the Titanic and then you all die anyway.

    If I can't hold an audience in the first page of my story, then I guess I my story telling skills need work, story should be engaging and interesting without holding a gun to someones head to get their attention.

    I believe in human life and that "body count" does not make for good entertainment. The goal is to make your character so interesting that you would never want to see them go. But then in the next paragraph blow away ten others who you don't give a damn about and go "yeah team!"

    I quit watching regular television years ago. I don't find most of it entertaining at all. My 12 year old loves it, maybe that's my first clue.

    My last book was practically autobiographical in that although I used fictional characters, the events were based on my life and I had no problem coming up with the true feelings that my characters felt. That to me is why fiction is so hard to write. I wrote a non fiction book on behavior where I interviewed about 20 people and put their personal stories for all to read. I also pulled from these true stories in my fiction knowing that someone out there really had these things happen to them.
     
  11. Show
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    Maybe the "body count" adds stakes to things. It's a real, relatable stake. An easy approach? Maybe. But not necessarily an illegitimate one.

    The news is quite popular, I think. It's just divided into different sources. I also think it gets monotonous with the same stories day in and day out. And stuff without visceral images doesn't capture attention as much. When tragedy happens, everybody still talks about the "news stories" like crazy.

    I'm not sure it's of some sadistic desire to see suffering though. I think it's something else.
     

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