In response to Chad’s question about whether or not there is "an exit to this world of entertainment, or is it just another trick for all of us marks to do the bidding of P.T. Barnum"...
In my mind, there is no going back from this world of entertainment. American culture has been forever changed by the advances of technology in the last 20 years. The speed of information and communication through the Internet, mobile phones, television, etc. has not made us less competent – just more impatient and selective.
I think we all want to be informed citizens when it comes to social and political issues, but we also want it made EASY for us and we demand to be entertained in the process. Our generation has been conditioned this way. (Thanks, MTV.) We’ve been forced to filter out what we deem as boring or unimportant due to the sheer volume of images and news we are exposed to everyday. It would take something drastic to halt the rate at which we are forced to process information. But not even Oprah can stop this crazy train we call networked media.
Our attention spans have been reduced to sound bites, tweets, and Insta-grams. We are a culture of shortcuts now. Why look up a word in the dictionary? There’s an app for that. Why would I write a check to help victims of Japan’s earthquake when I can text my donation instantly? Why buy a newspaper when I can get the “fun” news I want from Kathy and Hoda on the Today Show?
Even Charlie Sheen seems like he’s boiling down his personal meltdown to an entertainment spectacle… ranting on talk radio, YouTube, and Twitter and selling merchandise with his kooky musings on warlocks and tiger blood… And people (news outlets, bloggers, etc.) are eating it up!
As a former broadcasting student, I know that the emphasis is always on what you can SHOW. A story is not going to fly if it involves too much talking or thinking. (Just one of the many reasons I chose to forgo a career broadcast news.)
In the end, if the best way for the masses to learn and care about important issues is through various forms of “info-tainment” -- so be it. There is no exit from our celebrity-obsessed-24-hour-news-cycle world of entertainment, so we might as well go along for the ride.