From essay: Let me entertain you, By Michael Chabon –
Entertainment has come to mean junk. But its definition also should include everything pleasurable that arises from an encounter with literature.
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 Creamsicle, 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.
It skirts the black heart of life and drowns life’s lambency in a halogen glare. Intelligent people must keep a certain distance from its productions. They must handle the things that entertain them with gloves of irony and postmodern tongs.
Entertainment, in short, means junk, and too much junk is bad for you — bad for your heart, your arteries, your mind, your soul.
But maybe these intelligent and serious people, my faithful straw men, are wrong. Maybe the reason for the junkiness of so much of what pretends to entertain us is that we have accepted — indeed, we have helped to articulate — such a narrow, debased concept of entertainment.
The brain is an organ of entertainment, sensitive at any depth and over a wide spectrum. But we have learned to mistrust and despise our human aptitude for being entertained, and in that sense we get the entertainment we deserve.
From longer essay: Let me entertain you, By Michael Chabon, LA Times
Excerpted from his book Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands.