Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Entertainers and other scum

Rush Limbaugh has made a career complaining about the state of the world in general. I listened to him often as a kid and I remember he had a particular frustration with “welfare moms”. I find it fascinating that not only did Rush develop a drug problem, he developed a drug problem to extremely expensive and unusually controlled drug which no welfare mom could get her hands on. When this become public he happily took the “drug addict is a victim who needs help, not a criminal who needs punishment” point of view. This fascinates me because his fight against that viewpoint his one of the most outstanding features of his work. “the welfare mom is victim who needs help, not a criminal”, “The illegal immigrant is a victim who needs help, not a criminal”, etc., etc. When I mention this to ditto heads, they say “Well he’s just an entertainer.”

Discussing the current sad state of American folk music (contemporary country) with a coworker, I was interrupted by a passing stranger who saw fit to set me straight and tell me “Country musicians are entertainers. Thats what they do, and they get paid a lot to do it. They’re just entertainers.”

Now, this bothers me deeply. But its been a long while figuring out why. I enjoy being entertained, so why do such statements bother me so? Because entertainment for its own sake is evil. Entertainment for its own sake is a cancer that rots the mind from outside in.
The word “amuse” means… a = totally without, muse = thought. Entertainment is to thinking what masturbation is to sex. Both feel somewhat like the real thing, engage us emotionally without depth of purpose, and are totally sterile, without capacity to produce any new life.

Medieval inns would not let actors use the front enterance. The innkeepers considered a person who would change their face and the projection of their soul to the world for mere money to be the lowest of human scum, somewhat above lepers and below heretics.

When Marx said that religion is the opium of the people (often mistranslated as “opiate of the masses”) this was the context “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” But Marx said this in a pre-TV age. Truly TV is the expression of real life and protest against it.

Music and theater are not evil. Far from it, they have a very important place far elevated above mere entertainment. They are the projection of one mans soul the same way a book is the projection of one mans mind. They are information presented in a way that most who accept it would not accept it in an other way. The root of music and theater is revolution. Music and theater exist to engage us emotionally and intellectually that we may see Truth or at least a truth that we did not know before.

Waayah Cusub is a Somalian pop group. They are singing about warlords, tribal killings, Aids, and Islamic abuse. That is what music is for: speaking the truth were none dare speak it openly. To quote the last great American folk singer, Johnny Cash…

It was winter time in Nashville, down on music city row.
And I was lookin’ for a place to get myself out of the cold.
To warm the frozen feelin’ that was eatin’ at my soul.
Keep the chilly wind off my guitar.

My thirsty wanted whisky; my hungry needed beans,
But it’d been of month of paydays since I’d heard that eagle scream.
So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams,
I left my pride and stepped inside a bar.

Actually, I guess you’d could call it a Tavern:
Cigarette smoke to the ceiling and sawdust on the floor;
Friendly shadows.

I saw that there was just one old man sittin’ at the bar.
And in the mirror I could see him checkin’ me and my guitar.
An’ he turned and said: “Come up here boy, and show us what you are.”
I said: “I’m dry.” He bought me a beer.

He nodded at my guitar and said: “It’s a tough life, ain’t it?”
I just looked at him. He said: “You ain’t makin’ any money, are you?”
I said: “You’ve been readin’ my mail.”
He just smiled and said: “Let me see that guitar.
“I’ve got something you oughta hear.”
Then he laid it on me:

“If you waste your time a-talkin’ to the people who don’t listen,
“To the things that you are sayin’, who do you think’s gonna hear.
“And if you should die explainin’ how the things that they complain about,
“Are things they could be changin’, who do you think’s gonna care?”

There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind,
Who were crucified for what they tried to show.
And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time.
‘Cos the truth remains that no-one wants to know.

Well, the old man was a stranger, but I’d heard his song before,
Back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door.
When no-one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor,
And lonesome was more than a state of mind.

You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
If you don’t wanna join him, you got to beat him.
I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song.

And you still can hear me singin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that I am sayin’, prayin’ someone’s gonna hear.
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, hopin’ someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickle, I won’t ever die ashamed.
‘Cos I don’t believe that no-one wants to know.

“…Just an entertainer” is not an excuse, it is an insult. “just an entertainer” is the epitaph for a prophet with a holy calling, who has turned his back on the God who gifted him and whores his gift for the mere approval of man.

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July 8, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

3 Comments »

  1. 1. Rush never sought victim status for his addiction… his only claim was when he was treated differently than other addicts due to his political status… ie: digging around in his medical records which is forbidden by the HIPPLA laws.
    2. When people say of him “he’s an entertainer”.. they usually mean he’s ENTERTAINING… or fun to listen to.. PLUS he gets the point across. He uses entertainment as a vehicle for making people listen…. Like Johnny Cash did.
    3. Cash didn’t die broke and lonely, he died filthy rich and surrounded by fawning toadies…. or was it roadies?

    Comment by RiverRatRanger | July 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. I will disagree with point 3 from the above commenter. Johnny Cash died lonely alright, his wife had died just a couple of months before him. He died of a broken heart.

    Anyway, I agree with you. One great disappointment of mine is when people cow-tow to sponsers and others who hold power/money over your head. Think of Kelly Clarkson. She was the sweet girl-next-door. After winning American Idol, whoever held her reigns transformed her into some kind of sex object. All of a sudden she had heavy eye make up, slutty clothes and wild hair. All the magazine covers that featured her, showed her with a “Come hither big fella” kind of look. The worst of it? She DIDN’T NEED that kind of image! She won AI with her great singing voice and fresh face. Why transform her into a sex object when the masses already loved what she was?

    It disgusts me. Can’t anyone stand for anything anymore?

    Comment by CC | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  3. From a certain point of view “entertainers” do not profit humanity from a production standpoint. If we think about what they are producing as a sell able product there is nothing. They provide a diversion from what work the rest of us SHOULD be doing. Perhaps you could see the “product” as the CD that is sold at the music store or the DVD we purchase from Best Buy. I would concede this point for now and could come back to it later if desired but for now it’s not the scope of what I am getting at. For myself I consider good conversation entertainment and you are one of my favorite “entertainers” 🙂

    I have been thinking about the rest of the post and wonder what the real point is. I see one thought as saying that entertainment in general is wrong but then I see music and theater being fine. Personally I can see this more as a lack of education and understanding about entertainment, this causes frustration on my part with other areas of life so I see it being frustrating here as well. More then likely what I see here is that entertainers are people like anyone else and to be dismissive of their troubles is wrong.

    Personally I could care less what some celebrity or entertainer had for lunch or their personal issues. I have my own issues with my own life, family, wife, work, school, and my faith to deal with. I think its People magazine and those that read it with a fascination. Perhaps I see debating about entertainment and entertainers and there value in society akin to my black female friend debating the lack of left handed desks in the class room.

    Don’t mind me I have lots on my mind and not allot of time to get it done.

    I mean no offense and you know me from years past so you know what I am getting at here. I know its been awhile but I have not changed much from when we last talked in person.

    I have to get back to work now.

    Joe A!

    Comment by Joe | July 11, 2007 | Reply


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