The Value of Entertainment

What value do you provide?

What do you contribute to people? To the world?

What difference do you make?

These are the questions I run into as an actor. From others as well as from myself. With issues like world hunger, poverty, crime and global warming going on in the world, sometimes people find it hard to understand what I do for the cause as an actor, or for the world in general. Well, what does anyone do? I don’t act like it’s not there, but I don’t overly concern myself with issues on a great scale as that. I choose to focus on the moves I can make that contribute to the cause, and at the same time live my life and have fun.

I like to think of a career as a medium and a message like this. My message is simply to never stop growing, never stop learning, stay true to yourself and have fun. I strive to express this every minute of my life, through my actions, this blog, and through acting. I find striving to become a professional working actor very challenging. My growth as an actor runs parallel to my growth as an individual. It pushes me to work hard, build courage, discipline, and a whole lot of other qualities I find important. As a child, I was told that I shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t become an actor. It almost stopped me for a while. It’s been my dream since childhood so for me to deny that to myself  be untrue to my desires. I wouldn’t be true to myself or how I feel my life should be lived.

Value

What is value? I think value is highly subjective and always fluctuating, it’s not too stable or objective.  A bottle of water usually sells for around $1 around where I live in Riverside, CA. I went to a concert and found someone finding those same bottles of water for around $7. Normally, I would never think of buying water for around that price, but at that moment, it was of high value to me. The circumstances justified the price of water: I was drenched in sweat down to my socks, it was humid, and nobody was willing to share anything but weed and cigarettes. Answer.com defines value as

  • Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
  • Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
  • A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.
  • What Value do you provide?

    An actor is at most a poet and at least an entertainer-Marlon Brando

    I think this quote pretty much hits the nail on the head. At the least, an actor should provide entertainment and be entertaining. Does society NEED entertainment? I say no. In this new day and age, we have a lot of leisure and conveniences that make our experience of living more comfortable and convenient  but all we really need to live are our basics: food, clothing and shelter. But value isn’t solely based on needs and people usually have  a hard time distinguishing their needs from things that they would like to have or experience. Steve Pavlina states, “The simple answer is that you know you’re creating value when you can see tangible positive changes in the world as a result of your creative output.  So what tangible positive changes in the world does an actor create? At the least, an actor can inspire self-actualization and creativity. Just by an actor acting or a basketball player shooting hoops and making a living, I think it stands as a testimony that you can truly earn a living from your passion.

    What difference do you make?

    You can make a difference anytime in a day. However, since a career takes up a majority of your time, I think it stands that you should try to make a difference through your career. An actor is part of an ensemble. Usually, the director has a large amount of control, but the actor is responsible for his own choices. Like corporations with mission statements, movies have an objective most of the time. It may be simply to entertain or to inspire, to inform, to move the audience and etc. As an actor, I think it’s important to make sure you know the motives or objective of projects that you may be working on and make sure that it resonates with your values.

    You can stimulate change directly or indirectly. I remember reading Denzel Washington talk about how a man came up to him and told him how his role in Man on Fire helped him to stop smoking. He helped. Keyword: helped. Change usually happens gradually. I don’t know too many individuals that have up and created change primarily by themselves. The thing is, you never know how you’ll affect someone, for better or for worst, so it’s best to be conscious on what type of energy, message or image you’re putting out there or getting yourself involved with.

    What do you contribute to people? To the world?

    As I’ve stated previously, the least that entertainment contributes to society is entertainment. Entertainment might make you laugh, might ease the pain of whatever you’re going through. A film like Patch Adams showed me the healing power of laughter. Not everyone is stuck on their basic needs. When our basic needs are provided for, we begin to think on a higher level and experience greater joy in life. We begin to question life, innovate, seek greater understanding, creatively express ourselves and expand our potential. At the same time, entertainers have the money to donate to large causes and sometimes, even the time and energy to go along with it.But there is no limit to the impact arts and entertainment can have on an individual or a people. I’ve learned a great deal from Eminem (which is a whole ‘nother post in itself). Most lessons I’ve gotten from him have been by observation. Through music, I’ve learned a lot as well and at the very least, it’s been the catalyst for a lot of the things I learned. Look at Michael Jackson, he didn’t really affect me, but it appears he’s touched a whole lot of lives, influenced careers and made music that much better for some people.

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