On Saturday, December 5, 2015, people started lining up at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX (“TCL”) in Hollywood, California. Their plan was to camp out until the evening of December 17, when they would be allowed to enter the theater to watch the newest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In response to a question from a couple who was visiting from Ohio, Caroline Ritter, a woman who was planning on camping out for the 12 days, said, “We’re lining up for the new Star Wars movie. Yes, we still have a very long time to wait. No, we’re not crazy.”
I know that my opinion doesn’t matter much, but in the reality-based world that I live in, Ms. Ritter sounds as though she may be a little crazy.
One of the men who joined the group of campers, Erik Murillo, brought with him a lounge chair and two large plastic crates that were packed with food, clothes, a tent, and other supplies. In response to why he had joined the group, Mr. Murillo offered these words of wisdom: “At night, you freeze and in the daytime, you cook, but you come for the camaraderie and the chance to be a part of cinematic history. Besides, there are traditions to be upheld.”
Hmmm. It’s news to me that the 7th installment of the Star Wars franchise would be considered “cinematic history.” What’s going to happen when the 8th movie is released in two years? More cinematic history? Erik Murillo’s empty words are nothing more than an attempt to justify his moronic behavior. What he wants is a story he can post on Facebook to make himself look good to his friends. I wonder where I’d be today if I was raised by a guy like him instead of a real man.
By Friday, December 11, four blocks of the street next to the TCL were closed to traffic to accommodate the crowd that had gathered waiting for opening night. A production manager for the movie told The Hollywood Reporter: “This is definitely bigger than the Oscars.”
Welcome to the age of entertainment.
In the early years of the United States of America, our country benefited from what is now known as the agricultural age. Later, the industrial age ushered in a booming economy that was the envy of the world. We eventually graduated to the information age which facilitated an advance in technology to such an extent that we now have the ability to share information and communicate with anyone in the world on our small handheld devices, at minimal cost.
The age of entertainment began to blossom after the invention and widespread use of the television set. Prior to that, most people went to the theater and listened to the radio for entertainment. With advances in computer technology, the availability and use of entertainment has grown exponentially.
During the industrial age, we had the great industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie (U.S. Steel) and Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company), who built industries that expanded our economy with new jobs and wealth. The information age was made possible by modern-day entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs (Apple) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) both of whom built companies that produced products that are now primarily used as delivery systems for entertainment.
We’ve gotten to the point where, after a majority of people have taken care of their basic needs, their time and energy is focused on entertaining themselves with mindless activity. As a society, we would rather spend our time being entertained than engaging in the self-discipline that is necessary to expand our knowledge, develop new skills, become and remain physically fit, and enhance our relationship with God through prayer and works of mercy.
Why would we want to take the time to read, study, exercise, and pray when we can surf the internet, play video games, catch up on gossip on Facebook and other social media sites, and binge on television shows and movies on Netflix and Hulu.
I suppose that if I had the chance to live life all over again, I would still become a lawyer, but I would focus on becoming “America’s Premier Celebrity Lawyer.” I would write books, develop my own television reality show, publish a gossip magazine focused on celebrities who have legal problems, and become a paid speaker and consultant.
Earlier this year, the Kardashians signed a 4-year renewal contract with the E! Network in exchange for $100 million. In 2015, 25-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, the star of The Hunger Games movies, will earn $52 million. Songwriter and performer Taylor Swift, who is also 25 years old, will earn more than a $100 million this year. One of the highest paid musicians, Katy Perry, is on track to rake in $135 million.
Of course, there are other entertainers such as boxer Floyd Mayweather, who will earn $300 million, and Howard Stern, the foul-mouthed radio personality who will earn $95 million. And there’s also Rush Limbaugh, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil McGraw, LeBron James, and David Copperfield who are on track to earn between $60 and $70 million each.
It is anticipated that the new Star Wars movie is going to shatter all previous records including records set for pre-release sales, first day sales, first weekend sales, and total gross sales.
While the majority of Americans are constantly being distracted by trivial entertainment, their society and culture is falling apart. What’s that old saying? Oh yea, I remember now: “They’re fiddling while Rome burns.”
There’s no way for me or you to have a significant impact on what’s going on in the world; however, we need to remind ourselves every day that we must resist the temptation to be seduced by the ever-expanding opportunities that are available for entertainment. We need to consciously work at focusing the majority of our time on spiritual development, expanding our knowledge of history and what’s going on around us, good nutrition and physical exercise, and nurturing and enhancing our relationships with the people who are important to us.
When the moment comes that we have to face God and justify how we used our time, we need to be able to say to Him that our time was utilized to follow through on His plan for us.