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Can balance and leisure entertain?
The dilemma behind why so much media promotes awful work worship
I’m an active filmmaker and video producer—I love the form and the practice deeply. Yet I find myself frustrated at how most media glorifies work-worship, unbalanced lives, and workaholism.
Root to this is the tenet that anything that lacks conflict and struggle is boring. We want to see unbalanced people making herculean efforts. Well-adjusted, healthy people don’t make for good ratings.
(That’s why on American daytime TV you always see game show hosts prodding the contestant’s most triggering backstories and struggles—it’s almost like they get a bonus for every tear. But I digress)
I’ve been trained to accept this as gospel, and honestly still believe it. But I’ve been trying to have an open mind and begin exploring what an “anti-work” school of film and TV can look like. Many works that would qualify already exist—the late 90s were an especially fertile time for movies with “slacker” heroes. But even those still stuck within the traditional hero struggles mightily construct.
Is it possible to create a totally new “anti-work” form and still have it be entertaining? It’s a vague question, but I look forward to sharpening it and exploring it through this platform.