Inevitably, American entertainment has changed over the last sixty years. While individuals have always been drawn to music and television shows, audiences have become more concerned about what is going on behind the screen rather than focusing their attention on a story or album produced. The drama that resides on the outside of our simple pleasures may be something we find most complicated and intriguing with the in-vogue artist or actor.
In 1956, several of the most popular titles in television were I Love Lucy; The Twilight Zone; and Gunsmoke. Such television shows were based around simple family life; uncomplicated tales that ended variously tragic or comedic; and a Marshall who kept peace within a Western town. Unquestionably, American audiences were entertained by fictional life, fantasy, and adventure. The need for personal drama was unnecessary.
Today, many of the most popular television shows are the reality hits. Keeping Up with the Kardashians; Dance Moms; and Total Divas are few of the titles that are some of the highest ranked TV shows in America. Nothing is staged. There are no scripts, props, or storylines. While often these series received poor reviews, the viewers’ numbers grew.
Simply, modern entertainment has become more about the personal side of celebrities who are supposed to bring comfort and understanding. Rather than feel overjoyed at the release of a new hit or premier of a new episode, we are more enthralled with personal details.
What, then, does this say for America?
The decline and change of consumer demand regarding TV shows is most likely due to the availability of personal information. During the late 1950s, the only chance audiences had at learning the secrets of their beloved role models were the gossip columns in magazines. Digital connectivity, blogging, and social media have exploded in the last ten years, however, which has only built bridges in the gaps that used to separate the celebrity from the “common man”.
American virtues have crumbled. Rather than believing in our role models, spectators can’t tear themselves away from what is going on in the life of someone they don’t know personally. It seems individuals are rooting for them to fail because it is more entertaining to watch a tower of blocks tumble than progress. As our virtues have declined, we have begun to display a shallower sense of others.
Reality TV isn’t the only entertainment audiences are obsessed with. Taylor Swift has recently become one of the most targeted celebrities in the media. At just sixteen years old, she made her album debut that became one of the fastest and hottest selling records of all time. With the 2015 release of 1989, her fame exploded into the same elements as that of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. She has grown to be one of the most well known celebrities of the century.
A recent split from 15-month running boyfriend Calvin Harris left spectators shocked. Then, just weeks later, rumors circulated that she and British actor Tom Hiddleston were together, leaving audiences both astonished and intrigued. Since then, Swift has been unable to do anything without being in full view of the judgmental public eye.
Audiences manage to explode trivial issues into worldwide concerns. Something as simple as a tweet can turn the media and the rest of the world into an entertained frenzy. Then, we watch and wait for the opposing party to fire back. Regardless, anything anyone does is thoroughly examined for any trace of hidden meaning.
Yet it’s true spectating from the sidelines is far more entertaining than dealing with issues in our own personal lives. Having the world watch and judge every move and know everything about our relationships, absurd shopping sprees, and family turmoil would be enough to send many of us home in tears.
Staying away from drama and maintaining peace in our own worlds would prove to be more prosperous than scrounging for excitement from someone else.
As for Taylor Swift and the Kardashian sisters, may their lives and relationships challenge us to not only give in to the public displays of personal chaos, but allow us to enjoy the privilege of living out from the spotlight and the deeming eyes of the world.
This article was written by McKenna Vietti, a writer for dusk magazine.