By Meghan Aslin
Most people would agree that today the movie industry has grown more honest. Entertainment is looser and more open-minded with its topics, but is that good or bad?
In the 1950s, performing arts entertainment was a place where one could let go of reality in hopes of spending the following hour, or three, walking in the vibrant shoes of another man. The times of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “I Love Lucy” offered a place to let go of internal struggles, finances that needed to be paid or the harsh truths of the world; instead, these shows offered a place where you could just be.
Through exposure to discrimination, murder, assault, rape, suicide, and mental health, the world’s attention has been brought to what others experience in the hopes that we can make changes in how we think, act and treat each other. Through entertainment, we get to walk in the shoes of another person, even when what we see may not be pretty. Filmmakers have altered the true meaning of entertainment. The morphing idea of entertainment and loss of a censored version of life is great in so many ways, but there are many who think that entertainment has no place dealing with these kinds of issues. In the second season of “13 Reasons Why,” the producers faced difficulty deciding whether or not to include a certain scene in which three high school boys assault and sodomize a fellow male peer. The show, which is constantly facing backlash for one controversial plotpoint or another, faced even more criticism for their decision to portray the scene so honestly and brutally; however, they were quick to defend themselves. They stood by their bold choice and were defended by a large percentage of viewers. Many brought up the concern that the scene could trigger PTSD in survivors of rape and sexual assault. That is an extremely valid concern, but the writers’ intentions were to make viewers uncomfortable by bringing to light the idea that men face sexual assault and rape too. The delivery may leave nothing to the imagination, but the reasoning behind their choice is an important one.
But what do we risk destroying when innocent escapism disappears from the entertainment industry? Should entertainers really take it upon themselves to make us think about hard situations and the injustices of today? I myself could not find the answers alone, so I turned to the highly acclaimed local Netflix enthusiast, Nora James Eikner (9). Eikner stated, “When you have the opportunity to hold a large amount of people’s attention, you should use it to … add value to the lives of others or really make them reconsider what’s around them.”
Another recently released Netflix hit that came out over winter break is “Bird Box.” The film sparked conspiracy theories over its core meaning, including a commentary on modern racism and undocumented immigrants because of its core plot of a mother risking everything to seek asylum for herself and her children. If this movie had come out at an earlier time, would viewers be able to take it at face value and see it as just a scary movie instead of creating theories about its possible political commentary?
I agree with Eikner, movie makers should use their power and influence to express the raw emotions of humanity and expose the cruelties of our nature as well. Entertainment is better when it is designed to spark diverse interpretations and conversations. Through conversing and putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, we learn the most about ourselves.
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