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Fighting the onslaught of entertainment in the digital age | Arts & Culture | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest


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I’m so tired of having fun.

Granted, that’s one of the most privileged and boring statements out there, but it’s indicative of our digital age.

I love having endless media options at my fingertips, but it’s literally exhausting.

It drove me crazy that people were complaining about being bored during the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, when the majority of human artistic creation is now just a few mouse clicks away on a phone or laptop. We are blessed to have this cornucopia, but it has also become a burden.

A quick look at the things currently weighing on my mental entertainment checklist: the most recent seasons of Pen15the last season Brooklyn nine-nineevery 2022 episode of Saturday Night Live, which are just the tip of the television iceberg; the second half of the video game Forbidden Horizon West (although having already spent more than 50 hours); a slew of foreign feature films that I missed in 2021; unopened copies of Ghost of Tsushima and underworld for Playstation 5; all three Cars movies (for a podcast); new books by Chuck Klosterman and John Darnielle; new comic issues Saga; a YouTube documentary by Jon Bois about the Atlanta Falcons; Over 50 episodes of the Conan O’Brien podcast; and an array of other shows, movies, and games that I watch on post-its that litter my desk. And that’s not counting all that I am in fact to follow (shows, movies, professional wrestling, March Madness, etc.).

If you found this exhausting to read, That’s the point.

Granted, my job actually requires an unhealthy media diet, but I tend to think a lot of people feel like they have to follow too much pop culture. It’s a burden. For example, I know I’m going to watch the new Marvel vampire movie Morbius even if it looks terrible, because I watch all comic book movies and want to be part of the conversation. Because entertainment property reviews have become our fault method of communication in the United States.

As writer Sean Kelly (@StorySlug) pointed out in a Twitter thread, American discourse has evolved to the point where the only safe gossip line is pop culture. We have become conditioned to carry on as if everything is normal when crises occur (whether natural disasters, international wars or ongoing pandemics), so we avoid lingering or discussing tragic things in replacing them with the veneer of entertaining conversation to avoid doing uncomfortable things. No one wants to be depressing and “mood killer”.

Even when people attempt to talk about American politics, it’s often covered in purely imaginary tales of heroic saviors, resistance fighters and secret cabals – it can never just be boring old people incompetent in their work in many ways. You’re more likely to have a productive conversation breaking down the logistical coherence of Dr. Strange’s time manipulation rather than the logistical coherence of someone who believes actual vaccines are a brainwashing tool. We are addicted to narratives and binary good/evil constructions.

We’re going back on the endless pop culture treadmill so we don’t feel disconnected from an ever more splintered culture as people seem increasingly distant and isolated despite increasing digital connections.

In the most macabre extension of this, I sometimes think of death in terms of my pop culture favorites. Since I “have” to follow so many things, how many times will I be able to enjoy movies like The empire strikes back Where Frances Ha before I die? 30 ? 12? Five?

It is a heavy and perverse thought to dwell on.

So I won’t.

I’m just going to turn on the TV to take my mind off things. ♦