It is a well-known fact that the spread of COVID-19 affects various parts of our modern society in many ways. Entertainment and creative sectors seem to have to deal with devastating losses in terms of economy and employment. The United Kingdom is already reporting more than 400.000 jobs lost and a 74 billion revenue decrease in 2020 (O’Connor, n.d.). Australia’s entertainment industry is reporting a 66% change in their profits compared to last years’(Brandle, n.d.) and a loss of 80.000 jobs. Greek artists are reporting the unmitigated destruction of their sector through this last year. The future of the creative entertainment industry is unsure, at best.
Concomitantly, alcohol and drug use is on the rise. A survey conducted in the United States of America shows that there is a 67% increase in alcohol consumption in the states with more COVID-19 cases (Nicole LaNeve, n.d.). 39% of the cases related with substance use are reported to be because of boredom, 53% because of stress and 32% of the cases were trying to cope with anxiety or depression. Other countries also report an increase in mental health deterioration and/or usage of mental health medication such as Canada (Express Scripts Canada, n.d.), Poland (Adriana Sas, n.d.), Spain and China (Guessoum et al., 2020), United Kingdom (Iob, Frank, Steptoe, & Fancourt, 2020). Of course, the cause of this increase is multifactorial, including the application of social distancing, fear of getting ill, uncertainty about the future etc. However, the focal point of this article will be the correlation of the decline of the entertainment industry and the sudden increase in mental health problems.
As mentioned before, 39% of the people reporting increased alcohol use, stated boredom as the reason. Not knowing what to do, not having as many forms of entertainment ready for consumption, people result in using alcohol or drugs to keep themselves entertained. This seems to depict a common problem of modern society. People cannot entertain themselves or others and always resort to professional entertainers or popular, prepared entertainment. Professionally delivered entertainment is not a problem as it almost always will be superior to an amateur’s approach. The problem is that a vast majority of the population would not even consider creating entertainment, even if it is at an amateur level.
Of course, why would they? Nobody is ever formally taught how to. The creation of entertaining activities is usually left up to “talented” people or professionals, who spend a big part of their lives learning themselves how to do that. Similarly to a lot of other activities, creating entertainment is teachable. Primary and secondary education very rarely include anything related to this subject. The most related part of the curriculum would be creating art but this is almost always viewed from the perspective of self-expression and creativeness, which is absolutely appropriate. But it is something different from creating entertainment. Trying to reminisce about life in school, someone will not find himself producing a structured activity with the sole purpose of entertaining others, or himself. This does not mean that children cannot find fun and pleasure in various activities. Contrariwise, children entertain themselves with great ease and can creatively make something on the spot to play with. But this spontaneity is lost when transitioning to later stages in life, leaving the person without any structured and explicit knowledge on how to create an activity for entertainment.
This leads to the creation of adult human beings who cannot address the issue of entertaining themselves or their surrounding people. Entirely depending on externally stimulated forms of entertainment, people will follow every new, popular and advertised way of having fun. Movies, television programs, books, video games, concerts, theater plays, are all ready for consumption, every moment in this life. Most people do not make movies or write books. It is so easy to find and so hard to make that people do not think of creating anything like that. However, creating a song or improvising (dancing) on some music does not require that much knowledge as someone might imagine. Writing a funny story or preparing a short monologue is surely within the abilities of an average person. Instead, most people will resort to television, internet activity and in general, anything easily accessible. Addictions are formed and when the regular type of entertainment is lost, people do not have an alternative way of having fun, resulting in negative emotions.
Introducing children, in every stage of education, to a way of creating entertainment could be very easily done. A one hour per week subject that would involve dancing, singing, performing drama and integrating these into a show to be performed for the whole school could have a plethora of positive outcomes. Children could work in small teams to simulate the production of a show. For example, one team could write a script for a drama play, one team could direct the play, one could write lyrics, one could write melody for the lyrics, one could choreograph parts of the play and every team could teach students of the other teams to perform their creative parts. Collective learning, discovery learning and integration of art are all combined with the addition of creating and performing a structured show for entertainment. Of course this could be the outcome of a whole year or even the outcome of some years of preparation like teaching how to sing, how to dance, how to choreograph and anything needed for the show in general. Another idea could be to create board games and set up tournaments for the whole school to compete at their creations. Different student years could involve different ways of creating entertainment. With an approach like this, adults would have some knowledge to refer to when they want or need to entertain a person, including themselves.
One of the most important virtues a human being can possess is to not having to fully depend on someone else for his needs. When a dependency that strong is created, the person might feel helpless against the one who is providing the dependency, losing all control regarding the specific subject. Entertainment is a focal part of a modern person’s life, it should not be disregarded and left only for the experts to create. Humans are capable of great achievements, even if that achievement is giving someone a simple laugh.
Adriana Sas. (n.d.). • Poland: Increase in sales of antidepressants and sedatives due to COVID-19 2020 | Statista. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1130905/poland-increase-in-sales-of-antidepressants-and-sedatives-due-to-covid-19/
Brandle, L. (n.d.). Australia’s Live Industry Presents “Devastating” Report of COVID Impact on Economy, Livelihoods | Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/9465143/australia-live-industry-report-covid-impact-economy-livelihoods/
Express Scripts Canada. (n.d.). Use of Mental Health Medications Increased with Spread of COVID-19. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/use-of-mental-health-medications-increased-with-spread-of-covid-19-832534435.html
Guessoum, S. B., Lachal, J., Radjack, R., Carretier, E., Minassian, S., Benoit, L., & Moro, M. R. (2020). Adolescent psychiatric disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Psychiatry Research, 291(June), 113264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113264
Iob, E., Frank, P., Steptoe, A., & Fancourt, D. (2020). Levels of Severity of Depressive \Symptoms Among At-Risk Groups in the UK During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Network Open, 3(10), e2026064. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.26064
Nicole LaNeve. (n.d.). Survey Shows Drug & Alcohol Use Increase During COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/drug-addiction/news/drug-alcohol-use-rising-during-covid/
O’Connor, R. (n.d.). UK’s creative sector ‘on the brink of devastation’ with thousands of jobs at risk, experts warn | The Independent. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/coronavirus-job-losses-tv-film-music-threatre-creative-industries-uk-economy-a9568316.html