Entertainment in America
Americans are very active in spending money on things that they like to do in their free time and on what they like to do for entertainment. Americans find many ways to entertain themselves in their free time such as going dancing, going shopping, and going on vacations. There are three things, however, that almost every American does on a regular basis for entertainment. Those three things are watching television, listening to the radio, and going to see movies either with friends, on dates, or by themselves. Luckily, these three things are not very expensive activities to do. Movies, the television, and the radio contribute to shaping and influencing Americans in positive and negative ways.
There are millions of movie patrons every week in the United States. These people, whether rich or poor, go to the movies for a good time and a laid back time to relax. People enjoy going to movies to be able to fall into a plot or a story and see emotions, hardships, good times, and all of life through the eyes of another person or animal (Cresent, The Movie Book 87). Movies are a very convenient way for people to do this. The first kind of movie was something called a penny show, which was usually viewed in or through a nickelodeon (Less, The Movie Business 98). These films were rather short and had no sound, just images put together to tell the story. This was a very popular thing for children. Then came along movie theaters which showed films on a big screen, which we are used to today. These films, like the nickelodeons, had no sound, except usually a live piano playing in the background and were known as silent films. Eventually, sound effects came along and dialog was added to the films. With this addition of dialog, many of the silent film stars were put out of work because of their voices not being right for the part. John Wertheim explains the Warner Brothers in detail:
The Warner Brothers were the first people to make motion pictures with synchronized sound. May of 1926 was the first screening of this type of movie and it featured John Barrymore as Don Juan. The movie had no talk, but it had music and sound effects, which went along with the plot of the story. The audience was amazed with this break through technology that the Warner Brothers had come up with and brought to the big screen. With these new technologies in the movies, people were more than willing to pay up to six dollars to view a movie, which men would mean a greater amount of income for the Warner Brothers and other film making companies.
In present day, we have films with full dialog, sound effects and usually special effects, which dazzle us in many ways. Almost all movies that are made now have some special effects in them, such as life size dinosaurs or enormous storms which have the power to harm many (Cresent, The Movie Book 43). Luckily, this is all just the magic of Hollywood, nothing is actually real.
There are many different kinds of movies that people go to see. Some of these kinds of movies are horror, comedy, drama, and action. All of these movies are mixed together to form intricate plots and amazing endings. Some examples of these movies are Phsyco, Friday the 13th, Freddy, The Exorcist, and The Sixth Sense, which are all horror movies. Some comedies include The Nutty Professor, Dr. Dolittle, Billy Madison, The Water Boy, Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore, and many others, too many to be named. Some examples of action/ drama movies would be Jurassic Park, Field of Dreams, and The Perfect Storm. All of these movies have within them actors that are marvelous at portraying people in real life situations. That is why everyday people like to go and watch these movies, they can really get the feel of a situation without even having to be involved with it.
Television is the number one way that America entertains itself (Gebhardt, Broadcasting 173). From Happy Days to The X-Files, television has been bringing joy to America for a long time. Nearly every American has a television in their home, and watches it on a daily basis. Early televisions were black and white, and had poor sound quality. Also, there were not many channels to be viewed by the public. After a few years, though, the television started to really pick up. New networks were made, and more shows were on. Some shows are ongoing, meaning they have a new episode each week that is lead into by the episode from the previous week. Other shows are new every week and have the same cast in them, but the episodes are completely different, having nothing to do with each other. Then the color television was invented and it was the new rave. Color televisions, however, were soon traded back in for black and white sets because of their constant need for repairing. The black and white sets were much more reliable, and did not break as often (Bogart, The Age of Television 35). Nowadays, there are many different types of televisions. For instance, flat screened, like a picture, it is hung on the wall; big screened, such as a 50 inch or a 64 inch set that can take up lots of room; and a normal size like 24 inch or 27 inch. They come in almost any shape or size that is imaginable. The number of channels has taken a big leap over the years also. Now with cable and satellite available for purchase, one household could receive as many as five hundred channels at one time. With all those channels, there are an uncanny number of shows that air. Like movies, there are comedies, dramas, adventure, romantic, and also educational and foreign. They satisfy everybody s wants and desires for personal viewing pleasure.
The television can really bring the family together. Many families enjoy viewing their favorite program together such as a game show or a sitcom. Television also takes the attention of the household, making it a more quiet and less hectic environment to be in. Many adults and kids like to come home from a long day at work or school and just sit back and unwind into their favorite program. Television relaxes its viewers and calms them down after the day. Younger audiences are drawn to the television, cutting down on juvenile delinquency. During the day, housewives often watch soap operas, one kind of on-going story, which airs a new episode everyday. Housewives also enjoy watching talk shows such as “Oprah” and “Montel”. On the other hand, television inhibits laziness and a lack of effort towards necessary parts of everyday life. People now have the choice of sitting indoors all day and not do anything outside or anything productive. People who do this are usually referred to as a couch potato. There is more violence on TV nowadays also. This gives children bad ideas to be unresponsible, disrespectful and ignorant in the way that they conduct their life. Television can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on who you are and how much you watch it.
Radios were the first type of in home entertainment, which received broadcasts from an outside of the home source, called radio stations. People in the 1940 s and the 1950 s especially were tuned into the radio everyday to hear their favorite programs. Radios used to be about the size of a washing machine, and they only picked up about five stations. They had large knobs and lousy reception, but people loved them. The listeners would tune in each night for their favorite program such as “The Green Hornet” or “Dick Tracy.” These shows were mainly listened to by children and teens, who liked to hear tales of things that they can not do in real life, but like to imagine to do in their minds by listening to the programs. But in the evening hours of the day, news programs would come on and adults would tune in to hear about the days events and the weather for the next day. Over the years though, radios have progressed just as well as televisions have. Radios are in vehicles, homes, work places, and just about everywhere. They broadcast music, which is a very important element in many peoples lives, news programs, weather reports, talk shows, and much more. Sound quality has improved much also. Now you can buy extra speakers, sub woofers, and antennas to improve sound quality and reception. Radios play such a large part of everyone s life. People listen to them on the way to work in their cars, on the way to school, while we work, and just for pleasure. They are listened to all of the time.
Americans spend much of their time seeing movies, watching television, and listening to the radio. With all the activities that we have to do, these three things are the most used and done among all Americans. For generations, people have been doing these things for pleasure and they will continue doing them because they are relatively cheap and easy to do. With all the technology that exists today, and what technology is in the process of being brought to the public, people will be enjoying their experiences at the movies, watching television, and listening to the radio for many years to come. Movies, the television, and the radio have given Americans things to do and changed us in ways that are unimaginable, and they will continue to do so in the future.
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