1. Some of this depends on what one means by ‘entertaining’. Like, entertaining in the sense that it helps people relax, burn off steam for a bit or even not be bothered by an activity? Or entertaining in the sense that it occupies people away from their boredom and gives their brains something important to chew on even if they find it upsetting?

    If a story isn’t entertaining in one of those ways, though, it’s going to be a lot harder to get someone to even pay attention or think about a lesson the story presents in the first place. And if something is high quality it will often be entertaining, too.

    That said, different people have different niches. Some people are called to write stories that are entertaining in only one of the ways mentioned above, while others might be called to both. But people can actually do a lot of good from both ends.

    As for mainstream or liberal media, it may want to entertain, but many of those participating in it want to change the culture while they’re at it.

  2. notleia says:

    Margaret Atwood just released a sequel to A Handmaid’s Tale that’s pretty much instantly pushed into the category of Important Literature. She’s had to be consistently good for MANY years to accomplish that.

    In another category, Nora Roberts and Mercedes Lackey churn out so many potboilers a year that I wonder if they have impoverished English majors chained in their basements. (And you will have to pry Lackey’s potboilers out of my cold, dead hands because they are my Happy Nice Time trash.)

    • I might try watching Handmaid’s Tale someday. Maybe. Or at least give it a shot. Might be a little hard to motivate myself to, since now days I usually feel like watching anime by myself and live action with other people, for some weird reason. But from the tidbits I’ve heard of it, it sounds like it could be interesting and pretty reasonable quality, so yeah.

  3. A big problem I have with the Prairie Romances I gorged on as a stupid, teen girl is the lack of truth they contain. A reason I dislike the whole romance genre. Beautiful yes. But no more realistic than a Barbie doll. And therefore untrue.

    I read literary fiction and well crafted spec fiction.

    Fantasy and sci fi are unrealistic but that’s excusable. Kids learn early on you can’t transport through closets to magical lands. But “realistic” romances fool girls–leading to warped views of life and relationships. And often foolish life choices.

    And “Christian romances” are the worst.

    Jane Austen’s novels aren’t romances BTW. Too cerebral with believable characters. Coming of age is what I call them.

    • notleia says:

      This gives me lots of thinks. I’m trying to assemble the most coherent of them.

      But aside from the problems of romance stories in general, i.e. not enough conflict to drive a novel-length story without manufactured bull, Christian culture is just kinda terrible about the psychology of romance and relationships. The culture pushes this formula about girl + boy + Jesus rules = Happy Marriage Life Goals. And there’s TONS of pressure in the culture to maintain the illusion when the simplistic rules aren’t working, especially with the Culture Wars to Own the Gays and the Feminists.

  4. Victoria says:

    We can write about truth and beauty and still be entertaining. The Narnia stories, and Charles Williams’ spiritual thrillers, and of course The Lord of the Rings, all entertain and point readers toward spiritual truths. And God is endlessly inventive; he can use many kinds of literature to wake people up to his truths. I became fascinated by C.S. Lewis after reading The Silver Chair, which I didn’t understand but the atmosphere in it was amazing. Then at a crucial time in my life, I picked up Mere Christianity, which gave me a new life.

  5. LadyArin says:

    Movie studios may just be interested in entertaining people and recouping their multi-million dollar investments, but i don’t think many writers or even directors are. I can’t count how many interviews i’ve read or seen where creators are saying “I wanted to show people that X is possible” or “This movie/book/album/game touches on important issues for me”. I can even think of media that started out as pure entertainment, but while the writer(s) started out just by cracking jokes, somewhere along the line they wound up telling complex stories with deeper themes.

    Certainly seeking *just* to entertain can be a low bar (though i think there’s room for some literary comfort food, provided it’s not over-indulged). My personal forays into Christian fiction have not had that problem. All of them were trying to say something. The problem wasn’t that they weren’t entertaining (though not all of them were), but that it wasn’t told well.

  6. Travis Perry says:

    The creators of entertainment almost always insert their worldview(s) into what they write or otherwise produce. And people who consume entertainment are almost always eventually affected by the worldview that’s embedded in the entertainment.

    Yes, there are exceptions–entertainment that seems to mean nothing and people who can absorb entertainment and not be affected by the worldview it espouses. Or even go the opposite direction of the worldview–that happens sometimes. But not much. Most people wind up being influenced by the worldview of the stories they embrace by becoming sympathetic to those worldviews and most stories have worldviews.

    That’s why Christians should be writing and otherwise producing art. Not because we want to be just like the world around us, but because we want to be different from the world around us. We want to have quality in what we produce and love the stories we make–but we also know our worldview(s) will come out in the stories we make, sometimes deliberately, sometimes not.

    Because there really is a spiritual war going on for souls and we really should be about the business of either: 1) protecting the flock of God or 2) reaching those not in the flock. Entertainment is a means not only to express the creativity that reflects the image of God (which it does), entertainment by Christians should also be doing 1 or 2, even if very subtly and indirectly.

    • notleia says:

      This sounds enough like my dad and his Focus on the Family-fueled worry-parties that I’m rolling my eyes from pure reflex.
      What’s got you worked up? Watch some Natsume’s Book of Friends and relax.

What do you think?