Entertainment Is A Dirty Word


“Oh, it’s very entertaining,” the film producer sniffily said as he looked at my screenplay on his big desk. He then looked up and peered at me over his glasses. He said “entertaining” as if the very thought of it was beneath him (this is a man who makes movies for a living!) His advertisement said he was looking for scripts but that was very vague. He was clearly looking for a specific type of script. He was an arty producer, probably looking for arty-farty scripts about old women talking about tea or something (I still don’t know what the guy was looking for). So he had wasted both my time and his by not stating clearly what he wanted.

Being entertaining or exhibiting showmanship is seen by some as being cheap crowd-pleasing that just gives Joe Public what he wants. A kind of shameless “roll up, roll up!” carnival huckstering. By that definition, the likes of Steven Spielberg would be branded “entertaining” and therefore not worthy of praise or even critical admiration. Utter nonsense, of course. Spielberg has made some of the most unforgettable, popular films in movie history and has a back catalogue most people would kill for. The ones who look down their noses at his movies can only dream of amassing the credits he has.

Some people are afraid to make the big gesture. I, as you have probably gathered by now, am not. You don’t make anything good without pushing it as far as you can. That’s not to say that being entertaining can’t be subtle (an assumption this arty producer appeared to be dismissing me with) or highly intelligent or deeply moving. Entertainment can be and is all of those things. You only have to be open-minded to see that.

© 2014, Stewart Stafford. All rights reserved.

 

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