This thought entered my mind today when I was teaching a class here at No 3 Middle School in Karamay, China. It really hit me that entertainment is a tie that binds people together, through common music, common movies, and common TV shows. Many people share the same common experiences and through those experiences, social conditioning occurs and people are more capable of being told what to like, what not to like, and even what to believe in.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing common experiences through entertainment is not a bad thing in itself. In fact, ties that bind us together are a good thing. The problem is when it is used for nefarious purposes. When it is used to manipulate our minds and actions then it becomes evil.

This is what I think is happening in society at a large now, people are being told what is “ok” and what is “not ok.” People want to fit in so if they have slightly different views, they move them into what entertainment has told them is normal. This really only works if incrementalism is used. Too big of a shift causes outcry, but a little change doesn’t really solicit outrage.

As things slowly shift towards more and more control of correct opinions, people really don’t recognize that a change has been made. This gradual and shifting incrementalism is not even noticed and if it is, it’s called progress or just a generation gap.

Those that don’t go along with the shift are labeled as extremists or just plain wackos. This is easy to do because the mainstream is with the program, few people want to be on the outs with the group. This is basic group dynamics.

I’m sure some of you are thinking right now that what I am saying doesn’t really reflect the way things are or you are thinking that you are different. Today music, tv, and movies are more diverse than ever with many more options available than ever before. To that I say, just because it is more diverse doesn’t make it any less controlling. In fact, it is MORE controlling.

Everyone wants to think they are different from other people. It’s that rugged individualism that we all hunger for. Step back and think about those entertainment choices. Yes, they are being given to you. You are still choosing what the entertainment industry is giving you. Just because you have a choice doesn’t mean that you aren’t being controlled. If you are given a choice of eating dog food, fish food, hamster food, or cat food, you are still eating pet food.

While this may seem a little evil, there is something even more sinister in entertainment. Not only is it altering our opinions, views, and beliefs, but it is also putting us on the wrong track. Every minute we spend being entertained instead of working on our personal progress is a minute lost from this probation on Earth. This is the time for us to grow closer to the Lord and gain knowledge. If we are spending it being entertained and not learning and putting the word into action, then we are losing.

In a nutshell, entertainment these days is telling us what to believe, what to think, what to do, and is side tracking us from the Lord.

Here’s a Brigham Young quote from Journal of Discourses 1:

When you go to amuse, or recreate yourselves in any manner whatever, if you cannot enjoy the Spirit of the Lord then and there, as you would at a prayer meeting, leave that place; and return not to such amusements or recreation, until you have obtained the mastery over yourself, until you can command the influences around you, that you may have the Spirit of the Lord in any situation in which you may be placed. Then, and not until then, does it become the privilege of you, of me, or of any of the Saints, to join in the festivities designed by our Creator for our recreation.