Entertaining is not the same as entertainment. Entertaining is a type of recreational activity that holds an audience’s interest and attention; something entertainment is not. Entertainment is generally defined by the viewer, usually of a passive nature but can sometimes be very active. It may be a story or an idea, but more often than not, is more of a chore or task, that has developed over centuries specifically for the sole purpose of keeping the attention of an audience.
Entertainers do what is required of them to keep their audiences entertained. For example, the artist goes into the theatre to perform a play and yet when he is done with his performance, he goes back on stage to continue the entertainment. The same goes for the writer and the publisher. For the entertainer, achieving insight and knowledge about a subject is often achieved by engaging the senses.
Entertainers also seek knowledge as this is the only way to satisfy different tastes and needs of their audience. Knowledge gives pleasure to the audience and increases the pleasure received from the performance. It is in achieving insight and knowledge, that we come to understand that there is a difference between entertainment and knowledge. Entertainment is a passing phase, while knowledge is ongoing. In other words, knowledge is continuously being created, developed, and improved upon, while entertainment tends to be temporary and changes infrequently.
There are three basic forms of entertainment: home entertainment, theatre entertainment, and film and video production. Entertainment, at its most basic level, consists of people engaging in interactions that do not necessarily require interaction through the medium of words alone. Examples of this can be playing a board game, listening to music, watching television, or even playing video games. The entertainment medium allows us to experience things that cannot be fully experienced through the physical senses. For example, when you watch a movie, you are immersing yourself into the characters, the plot, and the time period, as well as the environment and other elements of the movie.
Theatre entertainment involves presentations of stories and plays, musical theatre productions, or films. Theatre gives pleasure by allowing you to interact with the characters, plot, and the setting. Performance art indulges our interests in visual arts by allowing us to become involved with the performance of others. Film and video production are the creation of media based on images, sometimes with text, to be shown on a screen either as an integrated unit or separately. It gives pleasure by enabling you to participate in the creating of a work of art by choosing a role, choosing specific images or sounds, choosing the duration and other aspects of the work.
While theatre, music, and film and video production give pleasure, the other forms of entertainment are useful in their way. Educational, economic, social and political values are passed on to us through our entertainment. Reading books, for example, can teach us valuable lessons in economic policy, while watching a movie can make us more compassionate and polite. Games can improve memory skills, while reading gives us knowledge of different cultures and traditions. There are many different preferences for our entertainment and all of them give us a different taste of what is good, bad, and worthy.
Some people say that the enjoyment we get from entertainment is the main reason people continue to create new forms of entertainment. This may be true to an extent, but there are also other factors that contribute to the longevity and success of the entertainment industry. The level of technological know-how available to the general public has increased the number of people who can produce home entertainment systems and can access them easily. This has increased the number of people who can afford high quality home theatre systems. And this has led to an increase in the demand for theatres and venues for entertainment.
So the overall contribution of entertainment to our lives is vast and varied. But although many entertainments have a serious purpose, none of them is a pure enough act of entertainment. Entertainment, strictly speaking, is merely one common understanding of various forms of artistic expression used for the purpose of relieving one’s mind from a serious or even a trivial thought. So whether you enjoy serious drama, comedy, music, film or television, you are indirectly involved in the entertainment industry whether you realize it or not.