Relaxation and play constitute an important part of life. Most of us spend around half of our waking time at work. We live in a world of informational overload. As such, the breaks we can take from the daily routines are quite important. The digital age has made audio-visual entertainment cheap, easy to obtain and, for an ever-increasing number of people it became one of the main means of counteracting the stress of daily life.
Cinematography and computer games are the undisputed leaders when it comes to this sort of fun. There are a lot of excellent movies and games out there. The opposite is also true and therein lays a problem: entertainment is a highly efficient means of propagating stereotypes and ideologies. Let’s take a look at some of these effects and observe how they sometimes end up damaging our society.
The human body
Nowhere are the stereotypes more apparent than the portrayal of the human body in mainstream entertainment. The prime example is the stereotyping of the female body and the worst offender is the computer games industry. Take a look at these examples:
Most action flicks spewing from Hollywood ooze the same type of intellectual pollution. Through this, not only are men trained into appreciating a stereotypical body type, but women are also subliminally directed into attempting to become exactly that. Men fall prey to images of them as muscle monsters that have to go to the gym and eat stuff like this:
Why is this happening, who benefits from all this? On the one hand, we have the chemical nutrition industry, the cosmetics industry and of course, the pharmaceutical industry (which comes in when the chemical nutrition & cosmetics succeed in damaging the body). For these businesses, mainstream entertainment has become excellent free advertisement. The emphasis placed on the word “mainstream” is there to remind that we’re targeting the trend, rather than the exceptions.
On the other hand, we have the entertainment industry itself. With the stereotypes now in place, it is easy to create generic movies and games, all following the same template. This sort of patterned repetition generates quick income and strengthens existent stereotypes. It’s a clever system that feeds on itself and grows in size through the conversion of human intellect, not unlike religion really, which at one point was some societies’ means of escape from real or imaginary threats.
Many people try to resist this sort of programming. However, entertainment can be an insidious force. After showering the brain with sounds and images, it has the advantage of dealing with a relaxed mind that is at its most receptive to external stimuli, with most of its defenses lowered (because it’s just “fun” broadcasting). To better envision how important the state of relaxation is, simply remember how a muscle has to be before getting an injection.
Humans are relaxed when they are entertained, and it is therefore difficult to resist the poisonous messages delivered to them. The pornographic industry, for example, takes advantage of the receptivity of the brain while being entertained by erotic imagery. While in this state, the rewiring of neural pathways (obtained through repeated suggestion) is very efficient.
The result of this “war against uniqueness” is a net devaluation of beauty. Stereotypes may be funny at times, convenient shortcuts at others, but sadly, a significant part of the entertainment industry has turned firmly against that which is unique, special and beautiful in favor of what sells. See this excellent short video^ about how men are treated in video games – like sacks of meat that should be stabbed, beat, shot and blown into oblivion.
Objectification leads to a loss of identity. When any person diverts too much attention towards physical aspects, they neglect the equally important internal world. That is not to say that physical beauty is irrelevant. Of course we should respect and take care of our bodies. However, due to the perpetual conditioning received through various forms of entertainment, many victims lose touch with the natural beauty of their bodies.
The mainstream pornographic industry is probably at the pinnacle of objectification. Taking advantage of already established stereotypes while in the same time reinforcing them, this business is one of the biggest earners in audio-visual entertainment. Many, if not most of the women performing in adult movies have done so under social pressure. There are many means of coercing, ranging from criminal (slavery) to exploiting social programming. Because of Social Contribution Inequality^, the number of vulnerable women is astonishingly high.
How many people have been through depression due to the way they believed their body looks? Notice here the use of the word “belief”. The human body is beautiful throughout the many changes that happen to it. But those that can influence what people see and hear love nothing more than to teach humans what to think about their and others’ bodies. The purpose is to divert people from their internal world, even abandon it in pursuit of cosmetic fixes. It’s no wonder many victims end up numbing themselves with antidepressants, filling up Big Pharma’s coffers.
In a healthy culture, there is no “ugly” person. A proof of this is that we often find ourselves in awe of a special, twisted tree. This is because we haven’t been conditioned as to what “the perfect tree” should look like. Although, it should be added that gardening is also an industry.
While we’re at the subject of trees, why not look a bit further. Animals, robots, aliens, zombies, mutants, they’re all shoved into the cinema/gaming stereotype-fest in often unhealthy ways such as serving as cannon fodder during various types of massacre. Again, this is not about those beautiful productions that manage to challenge our intellect and present unique perspectives or teach us about compassion. It’s about the downward spiral towards the dark side of the survival instinct – fear.
There is little respect given to the creatures portrayed on-screen and even less compassion – which is not surprising, since the industry has reached a point where writers are demanded to produce shallow stories that satisfy consumers whose intellectual appetite has been numbed by low quality entertainment. There are exceptions to this, but they are increasingly rare.
All of this devalues our society’s inherent respect for life. It is therefore not surprising that humans are destroying their environment or subjecting other forms of life to benevolent imprisonment.
Education is the obvious key here. Our children will be happier when they are aware of their natural beauty and even more importantly, they should know how to find and respect others’ natural beauty, how to appreciate the value of life, regardless of species.
An Intellectual Diet^ can help by getting rid of some of the toxic programming. A pro-active attitude is perhaps necessary. Boycott the companies that engage in such practices; refuse to see movies, buy games or products that sustain “dirty entertainment”.
Knowledge such as this is widely available all around us. Once incorporated, it can serve as a sort of mental immune system. I’m certainly not the first one to write on this topic and I wish others will continue to advance this discussion further. I rarely, if ever, ask anybody to share one of my articles, but if you can see value in what you just read, if you think that this is a good explanation for something that you already felt, perhaps now is the time to administer an intellectual vaccine to those that you care about.
To conclude on a positive note, here are some proposals for male costumes, if only artists would apply the same techniques used to emphasize women’s bodies.