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The 4 Reasons We Fall in Love With a Piece of Pop Culture

In ancient times, a trip to the video store was all it took to see that people love to arrange stuff in categories, and so it is today as well -- if it exists, and particularly if it exists in the world of arts or entertainment, we've broken it down into groups based on even the most trivial differences. Play your guitar in a slightly different way and you're sent careening into an entire other genre with its own set of rules and misconceptions. That's just the way it is, BECAUSE CATEGORIES. So let's just do it. Let's just go ahead and take this to its logical conclusion and break entertainment itself into a list of categories (NEXT WEEK: THE SEVEN KINDS OF LIST), and perhaps in some roundabout way remember why we liked entertainment to begin with ...

#4. The Distracting

Winston Rowntree

This is the most obvious form of entertainment -- that which is sought out for being entertaining, and for no real other reason. It's neutral, and it's fun, or funny or compelling, or it's just a display of sheer craftsmanship, and it dulls the pain of modern life. It's distracting. It lets you fantasize. It's escapism. It's your favorite stuff, probably.

There's a fifth pseudo-category of entertainment, and it's the Instructive, but that's more a love of learning dressed up as a love of being entertained (or vice versa??), so it's only a subcategory on this list (and does not include the dreaded "Edutainment" that ruined so many Christmases in the mid-'90s. "Oh boy, a new Mario ga- NO!! OH GOD NOOO ...!!" It wasn't entertaining, and nobody learned a damn thing). Distracting entertainment is primarily not educational -- that's why it's distracting. Yeah, it can unexpectedly slip in little lessons here and there, which can counterintuitively work quite well, but primarily the Distracting is the domain of shutting off one's mind and having your problems become those of the character on screen for 22 minutes a week or 180 minutes a year or 40 hours a week until you can't even remember what your own name is. Sometimes you don't want to remember (or you're just bored as fuck).

#3. The Inclusive

Winston Rowntree

Sometimes you like something because you like the experience of liking it. This is the Inclusive. This is when you like something because of the feeling of being part of a community, because of what it tells the world when you wear the T-shirt -- because we all like feeling not alone and being part of some special little exclusive group, and there's a ton of entertainment that caters directly to that. Entire genres that are otherwise dubious succeed by harnessing inclusiveness, and many things that are amazingly well-crafted have seven fans because they just don't relate to anyone in a personal enough manner -- and that's fine, because a world where the popularity of punk music and Christian Petzold were reversed would be a little too pleasant. Punk's technically not that good, but it fosters a powerful sense of meaning and togetherness and spreads a positive message too. So maybe it IS that good.

Subcategory: The Dark Side

Winston Rowntree

This is when you remove critical thinking from the equation. To some degree everyone is powerless to resist the innate human love for opinions that reflect our own, and we all latch on to some stupid shit when we're young. The key is to not take it too far and one day look up to find yourself reveling in an echo chamber of utter shite just because doubling down was easier than questioning your life choices. At some point it stops being entertainment and starts being a cult, literally, and if you can name one good cult (that isn't led by Ian Astbury), then be my guest.

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