Friday, October 26, 2007

Culture vs. Entertainment

Well, I guess I could declare this topic my third crusade, but in my opinion, two of them are enough at the moment. (And I'm still regrouping and waiting for the enemy to make the next move.)

I've found a rather strange look on the value of "entertainment" and "culture" quite often in my home country. It seems as if you can either enjoy culture or be entertained. Strange, isn't it?

Now, I'm a fan of Shakespeare - and like actually reading stage plays - and I feel very entertained while reading "Macbeth" or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or other plays he's written. I feel the same when reading, for example, Goethe's "Faust," despite the fact that it's considered a "classic" and thus should not entertain me.

But it seems as if people who have a higher education can't enjoy a simple movie (and Germany has shown some ability in producing comedies lately) without feeling guilty - well, on the whole, as I don't and I've been to university, too. "Entertainment," no matter whether it's a novel, a movie or something else, is very bad for you, at least if you want to be a cultured adult. And don't even dare to read a comic or manga (unless the comic comes from France or Belgium).

Why is that so? Why do so many people in Germany still think that "culture" and "entertainment" are different things? "Culture" encompasses many things, including entertaining novels, movies and so on. Everything we create is "culture," no matter whether we like it or not. I, for example, don't like the hyper-modern approach directors these days take to the classics of theatre. But that doesn't mean I don't consider this culture, too. It's just not my kind of culture. And if someone tells me comics aren't their kind of culture, that's okay, too. But saying it's no culture at all, goes a little too far.

Where does "entertainment" stop and "culture" start? Is Shakespeare or "Faust" "entertainment" in my case, because I enjoy reading it? Is "Gone with the wind" "culture" simply because I can't get through the first ten minutes without falling into deep sleep? Are fairy tales "culture?" What about movies toying with them (like "Shrek" or the versions a TV-station in Germany has produced and aired recently)?

Honestly, I don't think I'm qualified to really separate one from the other - nobody is, really.

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