Entertainment

by robertmcnicol

I make no apologies for once again speaking of Mr Michael Chabon and quoting him at length. It turns out that I hadn’t actually read everything he’s written and published (although I believe I soon will have. Get me) and, whilst moseying about in The Strand bookstore I found a paperback copy of some collected essays of his. The first essay, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights”, begins as follows:

Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights. It gives off a whiff of Coppertone and dripping Creamsickle, the fake-butter miasma of a movie-house lobby, of karaoke and Jägermeister, Jerry Bruckheimer movies, a Street Fighter machine grunting solipsistically in a corner of an ice-rink arcade. Entertainment trades in cliché and product placement. It engages regions of the brain far from the centers of discernment, critical thinking, ontological speculation.

Naturally MC goes on to debunk this and argues for a restoration of entertainment – specifically in the form of the short story – to what he sees as its hallowed place.

This morning I read an interesting piece in the Graun, following the Royal Ballet‘s tour of Cuba (Carlos Acosta‘s fine presence in said company playing no doubt some part in said arrangement). You should read it too, if you have an interest in ballet or Cuba (“Aw, shucks. Tap and Bolivia – that’s all I care about. What a gosh darned shame”). These sorts of pieces, I find, tend to end with some concluding thought – like Jerry Springer – and usually it’s some platitude masquerading as profundity. Not this time:

Sitting above Havana, gazing over a city slowly being rebuilt, [Edward] Watson [one of the RB’s principle dancers] suggests that back in Britain the link between dance and reality has become tragically worn, that in our wealth we’ve lost the understanding of what a tour like this should mean. “Here, people come to be entertained,” he tells me. “In London, too many come to criticise, to form their opinions, but here they just come for a good time.”

To form their opinions… There’s a phrase. The challenge, then: to allow oneself to be entertained, to revel in and celebrate art; to admit and incorporate one’s ignorance; to shrink from the quick opinion; to forgo the easy lament of one’s own inadequacies and to cheer the fine, hard work of the creator and the performer and the stagehand.

Saw these guys yesterday doing this. They were brilliant.

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