Entertainment and Utopia

Entertainment and Utopia

When one watches a motion picture based on either fictional or true events, they are taken through a series of psychological states that usually build into a climax, and leave them wondering what the end entails. A problem is presented at the beginning of the film that they expect to be solved at the end of it all. For instance, viewing a movie based on true war events in, say Vietnam or Afghanistan, may make one just wish for a peaceful situation by the time it ends. The viewer constantly wishes for a better world; without war. To a greater extent, entertainment offers this wish-fulfillment and a form of ‘escape’ from reality since in as much as peace may not triumph in real life, it is what is presented at the end of such a film. Throughout the plot of many pieces of entertainment art, viewer expectations are taken care of by incorporating various styles of performance. It is true that various forms of entertainment all have some emotional signification often acquired through the way they are related to real life situations in the social-cultural arena. One wonders how entertainment and social inadequacies are related.

For a better understanding, the social inadequacies and utopian categories as presented by Dyer may be discussed in the same breath as practices of the Classical Hollywood cinema. In this cinema, the style applied is largely influenced by Renaissance ideas and their emphasis of mankind as the point of focus. As such, classical narration, always progresses through systematic psychological narration. A character’s will and determination are depicted as they struggle over hurdles to attain certain goals. There is a subordination of aspects of time and space to an element of the narrative composing of two action lines. For instance, the plot could be the development of a romance story intertwined with a more generic aspect like solving a crime or striking a business deal.

In Classical Hollywood cinema, time is continuous. This is so because non-linearity requires the medium’s illusory workings. The flashback is the only time manipulation allowed. In Casablanca for instance, it has been used to introduce a sequence of memory of two of the main characters. It had been employed to show and give an experience of the magical time when Iisa (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick (Humprey Bogart) met in Paris and fell in love. The flashback Paris scenes are just linear series of whole scenes that have been inserted into the storyline to ensure the narrative flows. In addition, flashbacks are widely used to present a story that cannot be presented in any other way. Apart from revealing physical information and inner emotions, it can also reveal thoughts and dreams. In the light of utopian sensibility as depicted by Dyer, it can be used to shift the viewer from, say, a situation of abundance to scarcity. It could also shift from a scenario characterized by energy or exhaustion, or vice-versa. A character’s past could be characterized by extreme poverty, a converse of what their situation may be presently. In the same manner, in being used to take a story forward, it can be used to exert a feeling of hope in the mind of the viewer a sense of better things to come; a better life.

Perhaps the best connection of Classical Hollywood cinema and Dyer’s utopian sensibilities is the former’s unmistakably structured beginning and middle with an end presenting a distinct resolution. It uses events, actors and causal effects to achieve its objectives. The use of diegetic music is incorporated as a causal effect that achieves its immediate goal of either creating horror or surprise amongst the audience. The actors have distinct traits, and they are goal oriented. They act as causal agents whose motivation stems from psychological concerns as opposed to social concerns. They create in the viewer’s mind, expected situations. If the movie revolves around a hostage situation, for instance, then the viewer can hope for the release of the hostages and that is what would usually happen in a typical Hollywood narrative.

Conventions and motivations generally characterize classical Hollywood style. Every development is motivated by events and follows a kind of a causal relationship. Viewers are made to expect certain outcomes from different narrative situations. Certain paradigms, standards and norms, are followed that match and satisfy viewer expectations. This is to say that a classical Hollywood film will have answered viewer questions at the end of its narrative. Solutions out of situations are presented in the end, and they are what the viewer wishes and hopes for in real life. That is utopia in entertainment.

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