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It’s okay to enjoy movies without a heavy social commentary

Illustration: Alex Stallsworth • The Sentry
Loving media just for the sake of being entertaining shouldn’t be shamed.

Skin deep entertainment is not a crime

Imagine being at a gathering of friends, hanging out, catching up, and sharing a laugh. Everything just feels right, and the air is filled with the electricity of joy. Then, the host stands up, gathers everyone to the couch, tells them to sit, and walks to the TV. Then, they turn on Schindler’s List. 

Serious dramatic sources of entertainment all have their place, but that place isn’t every place. The purpose of entertainment is to entertain. At times that entertainment means enforcing a core belief, but other times, entertainment means providing a space for an audience to sit back and smile. 

Violence, corruption, and war fill the world. Everyday headlines read of worse and worse atrocities and more gut-wrenching happenings of injustice. At times, it all becomes too much for anyone.  

Maybe that’s why so many today cling tightly to entertainment. As the world falls apart, society can count on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to hold it all together, like the helicopter and truck he pulls together in Hobbes and Shaw. 

Countless studies show that relaxation is pertinent to overall well-being. Taking a moment to clear the mind and breathe a little deeper does more than just taking a physical break. Relaxation has been proven to lower the risk of heart diseases, increases blood flow to the muscles, and lead to higher levels of happiness. 

What better way to relax than a wonderfully mindless source of entertainment? Kick back, turn on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and turn that brain off. 

Look at some the highest grossing movies of all time. Avengers: Endgame, Titanic, Furious 7, just to name a few. While, yes, like any good piece of narrative based entertainment, they all have a central message, the message isn’t the purpose of these movies. All of the top grossing movies invite viewers to sit down, sink into the couch, and enter a separate universe for 120 minutes. 

The same goes for books. Imagine a world where every novel threw readers through the emotional wringer of only addressing social inadequacies. A world cannot properly function if every author writes and thinks like George Orwell or Charles Dickens. Society needs a balance to press on, and that balance comes from authors like Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King.  

People do not deserve to be shamed for gravitating towards more lighthearted sources of entertainment. If one person gravitates towards Atlas Shrugged and the other picks up Dear John, let them. Everyone needs to escape for a while, and they deserve to enjoy themselves while they do. The world deserves to smile, and if watching Kevin spill his World-Famous Chili in The Office does just that, then watch it, re-watch it, and maybe even watch it again. 

At times, 12 Years a Slave is fitting to watch and Of Mice and Men begs to be read—and that’s ok. But it’s also okay to not live in it. Find what sparks joy and stick with it. If it is exclusively hard-hitting dramas, have at it. Just don’t expect the next person to feel the same way. 

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