We are bombarded by neon lights and promises of “good times.” But if what we want is a solid, rich experience that leaves us feeling fulfilled, Art trumps Entertainment every time.

Sure, we want Entertainment cheap and fast. That’s why video gaming is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Same with movies and many other forms of Entertainment. But Entertainment without Art is hollow, and many times our profit-driven world relegates it to just that.

Art is hard. It’s rich, contextual, and has subtleties. Entertainment, once you study some basic “tricks of the trade,” is easy, and is most emotionally stimulating when it’s loud, bombastic, and brazen. So the profiteers lean on pure Entertainment most frequently.

It’s easier to scream nonsense than to whisper wisdom.

The problem is that when we purchase Entertainment and it lacks any fulfilling center, we’re left disenchanted and empty. It’s like eating a twinkie with no filling. How lame is that? It tastes terrible and still isn’t good for you. No thanks.

But if we buy Entertainment with no substance, we’re much less likely as consumers to buy more of that same Entertainment. When it comes down to it, if mankind had to choose between Art and Entertainment, we’d choose Art. Sheer Entertainment value may “win” in the short term, but never in the long term.

Here are five reasons Art trumps Entertainment, every time:

  1. Art is deep. As human beings, we long for multi-level experiences because we were made for relationships, and relationships are complex. We don’t want one-note songs. We want rich tapestries that move us to higher ground.
  2. Art is humble. Real Art lets its existence speak for itself, whereas Entertainment screams, “HERE I AM! LOOK HOW GREAT I AM!” Pride is a disgusting thing. We may be drawn to confidence or self-assurance, but ego tastes like rotten eggs.
  3. Art offers substance. What makes something Entertainment is that it claims our attention. This can happen through humor, flashing lights, sounds, or any number of other “tricks.” But Entertainment is really only the promise of substance. Art is the substance itself, the soul within the body.
  4. Art offers long-term engagement. When we watch a movie a second or third time, we look for the deeper meanings, for the threads that were so complex we couldn’t absorb them all the first time around. Art engages us more than once, on more than one level. An annoyingly simple pop song may get stuck in people’s heads, but they sure won’t want to listen to it again if it lacks any level of depth. How much better would it be if that catchy song also had depth?
  5. Art is Entertainment on a deeper level. This whole time, we’ve spoken as if Art and Entertainment are mutually exclusive. But Art really is Entertainment, only with a solid core. Earlier I said that Art is the soul within the body. Perhaps a more accurate picture would be that Art is the soul and body working together.

When it comes down to it, people want substance. We get mad when we feel what we purchased doesn’t offer as much as it seemed to. We feel we’ve wasted our time by investing it in something that seems worthless.

But we fall for it all the time. Poorly made Art achieves popularity often.

We should do ourselves a favor and choose substance over swagger.