Destroy the Entertainment Industry

It is in no one's interest to destroy the entertainment industry Ė Peter Cochrane

Entertainment industry: costs

The entertainment industry wastes billions of dollars a year on films, games, pornography and escapism.

As such it is like a cancerous growth on humanity, sapping our collective resources and strength.

These funds typically do not produce anything worthwhile. They do not feed anyone. No housing or shelter is provided. The world does not wind up better irrigated as a result. No more useful elements or minerals come into circulation. Scientific knowledge is not advanced.

It is not just the funds that are wasted. Precious natural resources are needlessly depleted as well. Human time and effort - which could usefully be spent in other areas - are also used up. Both the consumers and the producers are affected.

All that is produced as a result of all this expenditure is entertainment.

What is entertainment?

Entertainment is a type of stimulation designed to trigger a drug-like state of euphoria.

Upon receipt of certain kinds of sensory input, the human brain produces drug-like compounds associated with positive behavioural reinforcement.

Various types of entertainment cause different types of stimulation. Comedy activates the nucleus accumbens - a brain area which is known to be involved in the rewarding feelings that follow monetary gain or the use of some addictive drugs. The shock-relief cycle horror movies repeatedly put the viewer through works as another type of drug-based conditioning - based on endorphins. Action adventure games are fuelled on adrenaline. Pornography works on the brain's sexual reward centres - and so on.

The result of all this drug-related stimulation is a high level of fantasy addiction in the population.

Addicts tend to become couch potatoes, often with various other associated pathologies: eye strain, back problems, malnutrition, RSI - and so on.

Some exposure to story telling and fantasies may be beneficial - since it allows humans to gain exposure to the experiences of others quickly and in relative safety. This explains why humans are attracted to this sort of thing in the first place. However, today's fanatsies often tend to go beyond what is healthy and beneficial. They typically represent a super-stimulus, in order to encourage a rapid response and subsequent addiction.

We see the same thing with sugars. Some sugars is useful - so humans are genetically programmed to eat them. However, in the modern environment, food is plentiful, and there is a huge food marketing industry - and the result is an obesity epidemic. This wastes billions of dollars in unwanted food production and healthcare bills, and is a complete and unmitigated managerial disaster.

Similarly some exposure fantasies is beneficial. It is when there is a whole marketing industry pumping consumers to consume fantasies at the maximum possible rate - in order to satisfy its own selfish goals - that problems with over-production and over-consumption arise.

How did we get into this mess?

Many humans like fantasies, just as many humans like tobacco, alcohol and cocaine. These humans will tend to vote for politicians that will give them what they want. Just as smokers will vote for cheap legal tobacco, so fantasy addicts will vote for copyright laws.

As if the the genetic predisposition were not enough, humans get hooked on fantasy as children by their addicted parents.

Without copyright laws the scale of the entertainment business would be much reduced. Humans would still probably put far too much effort into it - but it is the government-granted monopolies that have encouraged the proliferation of pornography and video games to the current levels.

Addicted humans will tend to vote for politicians that are prepared to finance their preferred brands of pornography, horror, violence, etc, by upholding the relevant copyright laws.

So the cycle of addiction perpetuates itself.

The role of copyright law

Copyright laws were created to offer artificial protection to informational entities - which would otherwise be too fragile to survive in a free market.

Since the copyright laws are the proximate cause of the problem, one obvious solution is to strike these from the books. That would have the effect of cutting off the air supply to the entertainment pushers.

"Useful arts" that are genuinely useful would not be affected by this - since anything which is genuinely useful would receive government sponsorship instead.

What would suffer are things like video games, pornography, violence and horror - the material widely regarded as being least desirable - and least likely to attract arts council funding.

In fact even abolishing the copyright laws would not be enough. The prevalance of the wannabe-pop-star syndrome - where individuals are naturally attracted to jobs involving exhibiting themselves on stage surrounded by adoring fans - means that humans would spend too much energy on entertainment - even if there were no copyright laws to help finance it with artificially-created monopolies. Additional deterrents - such as entertainment taxes - might be needed to redress this tendency.

How do we get out of this mess?

Unfortunately, abolishing the copyright laws, would not get to the root of the problem. It would leave vast throngs of fantasy addicts gasping for their next fix.

Since these represent a large proportion of the population, they would simply vote in new politicians, get the copyright laws reestablished again - and then continue to writhe in their entertainment-induced ecstacies, blissfully uncaring about the billions of dollars their actions are collectively wasting.

According to my analysis, there are several ways around this problem:

  • Political reform. The idea that people know what is good for them is obviously flawed - yet it is the basis of democratic systems. If people manage their own diets, we get an obesity epidemic. If people manage their own education, they become fantasy addicts. By and large, people are not sufficiently competent to manage their own lives in such a way that they are good, productive citizens. They obviously need help in this area.

  • Therapy. If people are made sick by their fantasy addictions, then maybe this sickness can be treated. The same approach has been tried with obesity, with only rather limited success. One problem is that people hate to think of themselves as being sick, and go to great lengths to rationalise away their health problems.

  • Germ-line manipulation. If humans exhibit variation in their susceptability to entertainment-induced pathologies, maybe a human can be constructed that is less prone to this type of malfunction.

Education and treatment are the least radical propositions - and thus seem likely to be the most easy to introduce. We need to educate people about the personal hazzards of living much of your life in fantasy worlds - and warn them about the waste of resources their sponsorship of these worlds results in.

If the obesity situation is anything to go by, this will probably not produce much effect - but it would at least be a start.

Sexual selection analogy

Something analogous to the current situation happens in some natural populations. I am thinking of runaway sexual selection.

Sometimes remote islands are populated by birds - and are devoid of natural land-based predators. Reduced natural selection pressures on the birds results in more sexually-selected features being promoted. The birds spend a lot of time dancing, singing and displaying to each other, and acquire ridiculous impractical plumages.

The party sometimes lasts until a ground-based predator arrives on the scene - whereupon the defenceless birds are often driven to extinction.

Today's cultural artefacts resemble the birds' elaborate plumage. The biological function of love songs - and the like - among our ancestors was to give a signal of health, well being and fertility and to thus advance individual reproductive goals.

All very well - in moderation: the high variance in male reproductive fitness produced by this type of sexual selection may help with the elimination of deleterious mutations and it may also be useful in the battle against pathogens.

However as with most runaway sexual selection processes, the extremes have dangers of extinction associated with them - through taking the eye off the ball associated with natural selection.

The longer the runaway sexual selection process goes on in an uninhibited manner, the greater the chances that the species will come to a sticky end when predators reenter the environment.

The scale of the problem

In my estimation, the scale of this problem is enormous.

To give one example Spiderman 3 reputedly cost over $500 million dollars to make. Woldwide, audiences paid $900 million dollars to watch it. That's almost a billion dollars wasted on one movie.

At this stage in our development, humans need to concentrate on establishing colonies on other planets, and on technological development - to avoid being assimilated by the first aliens we encounter.

In the short term, that involves feeding and sheltering each other - to take proper advantage of our current human resources, irrigation projects - and other worthy endeavours.

Vast expenditures of resources on pornography and games is not just not a high priority. Indeed, it represents a management disaster that may contribute to our premature demise as a species.

Humanity needs to recognise this issue as a problem that needs fixing, and work on fixing it.


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