Dismissing popular entertainment as worthless or damaging is more of a reflex than true statement these days. Yet plenty of people still proudly brag that they don’t watch television or mainstream movies, or listen to pop music.
(Of course, within that number is a sizable subset of folks who actually do consume those things but declare they don’t… and will scream if you tell them anything about, say, how “The Wire” ends. That does not count as actual television, they explain. Ah, such beautiful minds.)
It’s true -- most TV series, films and songs quickly fade into nothing, barely remembered… if recalled at all. But the wide ocean of entertainment options available to us at any moment braids the brain, and within that vast, endless swirl swims a fair share of greatness, a few acts of genius that harmonize with us on a deeper level.
I’m referring to those favorite episodes we return to years after a series has gone off the air, because their timeless messages speak to an immutable truth in our lives. Those movies that comfort us on the days when fate greets us with a sucker punch that changes everything. The songs we play to prepare us to take huge leaps or stand our ground, because even the strongest backbones need a little auditory scaffolding now and again.
For example, during a recent and very trying span of time, I found myself getting up at dawn at least once a week to watch the “Out of Gas” episode of the long-gone but still beloved series “Firefly.” I’ve done this many times over the years, but only recently could I explain why watching Mal Reynolds nearly die in the act of saving his ship fortifies my spirit whenever life gets tough.
That episode illustrates what a brave person does when everything breaks down, when she’s sent her allies away for their own preservation, until all that’s left is the boat, that thing she’s built and plans to ride until her life is spent.
The story, writing and visual structure of “Out of Gas” comes together in such a perfect way that the episode is considered among “Firefly” fans to be one of its best. On a personal level, it also made me think about what would inspire me to fight to the last gasp. What is my Serenity, my boat? Do I have the kind of dedication to duke it out until the air is too thin to breathe? We all have that spirit in us. Captain Mal reminded me of that over the course of countless viewings.
That’s what “channeling life through entertainment” means. Television, film and music sculpt the smallest folds and curves in our evolving life philosophies, from their influence on what we wear and how we speak, to the major shifts that they ease into our culture. Our lives are deeply influenced by entertainment, even if we think we’re detached from some of its various mediums.
That’s the driving philosophy of this blog. Most of the writing you’ll find here will be about television, including reviews, features and the odd think piece. But analysis about film and music will have a place here from time to time, because it’s all connected, isn’t it? So…let’s channel the good and dissect the appeal of the mediocre and even the gloriously bad together. You’ll see what I mean soon enough.