Since the days of our caveman ancestors we have sought entertainment. We enjoy spectacle. We enjoy being amazed. We like a good laugh, rarely reject a good cry and we love to be shocked and awed. Of course, we take pride in our ability to create entertainment, especially in this town. (Hollywood Generic – your town may vary). Yes, as entertainers we do make “entertainment.” We create it, we nurture it, we present it and if it is really, really, really top notch, we take credit for it. If it bombs, that’s because of “Bob.” He never understood what the public wanted in the first place.
But let’s face it, the entertainment we create is a two way street. We may create a spectacular piece of art or a momentous piece of (let’s politely say less than art) but in the end it is how it is received that makes it entertaining and to that end the public has an amazing affinity for creating entertainment without the entertainer. It may not be art at any level but if it received as such it is poetry to the public.
Death! Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it? You would think so but the public doesn’t. To the public the concept of “death” can be fantastically entertaining. Take the family, don’t forget Grandma and make a day of it. From the first public clubbing over that perfect cave, right through the perfection of death made popular by the Roman Coliseums, the public loves a good kill. And if you think that such uncivilized behavior is somehow the selection of those ancient people and their uncivilized ways then look no further than our own recent history, the Old West and a good hanging! Got to bring the kids to that one.
You can argue that death became them because they had no television. They had to see someone killed or why leave the house? Oh sure, you could have gone to a play, but that’s hardly family entertainment. Of course nowadays, we don’t have public hangings and yes, that has hurt the picnic blanket and basket industry. But not to be deterred: we are a clever and a resourceful species and we will find the 2010 equivalent to the hanging – and we have… the DUI Checkpoint!
Recently on Hollywood Way in Burbank just such a source of pleasure was erected to the delight of our intrepid sense of public entertainment. Okay, not all the public was present but then the lack of advanced notice no doubt hurt their box office. However it did draw a minor crowd. Now I am forced to admit that I know of the following because I walked around the block to see what I could see. But what I did not expect to see was the group of citizens that had come out with lawn chairs, drinks, snacks and blankets to watch the public “hanging” of DUI suspects and of course, the towing of their cars that may or may not have also been somehow mechanically intoxicated. (Cars rarely have any rights under such circumstances.) They were a rowdy and colorful group speculating on the action, the guilty, and the innocent and frankly were simply having a ball and they were doing so not because they were being entertained but because they had found the entertainment in themselves and the event itself, merely a great excuse. It was Cops in 3-D.
Which brings us to the ultimate exhibition of death before us that we can watch from the comfort of our living rooms. Today that noose, that clubbing, that trip to the Coliseum is… drum roll please… the BP (British Petroleum) Oil Cam. Yes, for your pleasure you can tune in any time day or night and watch mankind kill an ecosystem. You can watch it over lunch, you can watch with friends in a bunch. You can watch the oil pour into the water, you can enjoy it with your daughter. You can watch it all day, you can watch it all night, you can watch nature die, you can watch it with pie.
And we do. We have created one of the highest rated oil slick cavalcades on the planet. It’s the culmination of our abilities, your show of shows, honed over millions of years, that has permitted us to find a way to locate a visually morbid fascination in the worst we can create and enjoy it with a snack on the side.
That’s entertainment. Enjoy the show.
Lloyd E. Flyer is a freelance writer and may be contacted through “The Tolucan Times” or at Alternateangle@pacbell.net