The word “entertainment” would come across very differently depending on the generation who you talk to. Seniors would evoke a game of backgammon or a round of limbo at a park whereas my sons would soon think of hours of playing Fortnite on their Nintendo Switches or watching endless episodes of Mukbang on Youtube. Ask someone from different nationality or cultural background, their answers would be drastically different.
The bottomline: entertainment is universal.
As long as there is human being, there will certainly be some form of entertainment. That form of entertainment may be long lasting as backgammon (Wikipedia says it traces back as old as 5,000 years) or a short instance in the history of entertainment that goes out of fashion at some point, like collecting NBA cards in my case.
There are industries that strived around this notion of entertainment. In my mind, they are mainly Game, Sports and Entertainment (the last one is an oxymoron, but specifically I have traditional television broadcasting and live music performance in my mind at the very least), but there are certainly more.
I guess the key message is that entertainment evolves based on the needs of the consumers.
The early episodes of the Korean long-running variety show “Radio Star” had a very different feel than that of the more recent ones. And so does another show “Knowing Brothers”. From the early concept that was based on some preliminary hypothesis of the program director, it has evolved gradually through trial and error based on the consumers’ reactions, which essentially served as critic.
Now the fun part is that, different country (or continent) has different consumers’ needs and even if the core component may be the same, the resulting entertainment form may be quite different.
Oogui (大食い、”food-fighter” in Japanese) competition has been a popular television content since the 90s in Japan (to the best of my knowledge, but I may be wrong). The same form of entertainment, however, never really took off in Korea — the nearest neighboring country that was heavily influenced by Japanese mangas, animes, games, J-pops, and even culinary, but never food-fighting competitions.
But then there was Mukbang (먹방, Wikipedia describes as “an online audiovisual broadcast in which a host consumes large quantities of food while interacting with the audience”) that became popular in the 2010s Korea. Mukbang has its strange appeal (trust me, as I had never imagine this sort of content could possibly be entertaining to a moderately educated middle-aged father like myself, but I have a few subscriptions of Youtube channels now). The amount of food that these Mukbang-ler consumes is no less than that of the Oogui’s.
It came across to me that Oogui and Mukbang may essentially be the same types of entertainment, just in different format in different medium that appeared in different face in time due to different needs of the consumers.
and now I’m thinking… there may be a deeper story behind to investigate.
Blue pill or red pill, Neo?