Thursday, September 21, 2023

There's No Business Like Show Business

Show business is the entertainment industry. It includes all aspects of creating, producing, and distributing entertainment, such as music, film, television, theater, and live performance. Show business is a global industry that employs millions of people and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

The term "show business" is thought to have originated in the early 19th century, when it was used to describe the business of putting on shows and theatrical productions. Over time, the term has come to encompass all aspects of the entertainment industry, from the creation of content to its distribution and consumption.

But also, over time, this tendency to turn everything into entertainment has spread into nearly every market crevice like an oil slick on a Minnesota lake. It was probably easy for Muhammed Ali to transform boxing with his audacious antics, helped in large part by Howard Cosell standing by with his Wide World of Sports megaphone.

With the advent of television it was inevitable that sports--from football and baseball to basketball, hockey and golf--would become more about entertainment than the games. Sure, the players were serious about bringing home titles and championship rings, but the big bucks rolled in when media moguls learned how to turn these competitive games into "stories."

Scottish thinker Thomas Carlyle once called economics "the dismal science." But even this has been turned into an entertainment vehicle by the likes of the flamboyant, volcanic Jim Cramer. Even NPR presents an entertaining look at the markets, albeit with a different tone. Informative? Yes, but similarly recognizing that to keep listeners coming back there has to be some crafting taking place. "Now, let's look at the numbers."

In the realm of crime things have gotten especially bizarre. Today while browsing X (formerly known as Twitter) I saw a video of a woman violently assaulting a 13 year old girl in a store. As many as ten or more onlookers stood their watching and recording it on their cell phones, most likely to share on social media themselves. No one intervened.

When I was a kid I had a cousin in Ohio whose father was a volunteer assistant fire chief. They had a squawk box in their house so that when there was an accident or fire or some other incident my uncle could quickly take off to assist. Today, there are people who buy these squawk boxes just to listen to what's happening in the realm of law and disorder. Why wait till you read it in the paper or see it on TV? Listen as it happens.

And of course, there's politics. Elections must one of the strangest forms of entertainment devised by humankind. The debates? How deep can you go into a topic when you have one minute for a rebuttal.

Even we ourselves have been swept up in this show biz stance toward the world around us. From the way we present ourselves on social media to the way some people interact with their colleagues at work, we are constantly performing for others.

What are Instagram and Tik Tok all about? YouTube the same. "Look at me. I'm a star!" You bet you are. But what I want to know is what's underneath that veneer?

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