Sharma Howard: Family entertainment could see more time at home
Last weekend, I covered the pre-concert excitement of the Miley Cyrus show at MGM Grand. Because tickets were $150, $250 and $350, parents who coughed up the cash for their children to see the teen sensation faced a backlash in online chatter afterward, especially given the news of the imploding economy.
Some people seemed angry that parents were being what they perceived as lavish — some even mentioned the $700 billion bailout proposed by the Bush administration to staunch the collapse of Wall Sreet and free up frozen credit.
But given the excitement of seeing Cyrus, I’m sure parents had bought the tickets well in advance of the economic tsunami that has reached our shores.
I believe how people choose to spend their money is personal and no one else’s business. That argument, however, is on a bit of shaky ground as we discover that others’ bad decisions in pushing mortgages on people who couldn’t afford them is coming home to roost upon us all in a complex economy in which we are inter-linked.
And another troubling aspect of our crisis is the fact Americans aren’t saving their money — we have a negative savings rate as a nation, and that will menace the stability of the American family as a recession descends.
So how do families cope with the recession we are told will be long, and hard? How does entertainment fare in bad economic times?
Movies, in particular, do well. They buoyed spirits in the Great Depression, and in the last seven recessions, movie theaters, box office revenue and admissions increased during five of them.
Already bloggers are predicting home entertainment in the form of video games will be robust, as people stay closer to home for entertainment. Home movies, as well, will surely continue to be popular.
Art reflects life, it spins it back to the public — to lighten, critique, record or lampoon the time we live in.
Children’s shows will play an important role in the coming years. As much as the movie “WALL-E” left me cold in an entertainment sense, looking back, I find it was brilliantly prescient on some level. In the movie, corporate corruption, excessive public consumption of goods, along with the assault on the planet, all eroded the evolution of mankind and its collective well-being.
In these times, it could be that little-used nonprofits, such as museums, live theater, historic sites, free parks and nature centers will attract a greater number of families as they stay closer to home and forgo big Disney World blitzes.
These times make me wonder: Did we need all of that to begin with? Do our kids truly need that level of entertainment? Or are we, have we, been in overkill mode for a while?
I would argue that the spending on fancy vacations, trips to concerts and the like, actually have splintered families away from the communities in which they live. Neighborhoods used to be more communal, with baseball games, unruly games of tag, and one popular hangout house where the mother was probably the most laid-back providing not only entertainment, but also socialization and connection. While the glitz and glamour of going to a casino to see a star is no doubt exciting, uncertain times call for more cautionary spending, as well as getting back down to earth, and interacting thoughtfully with your kids.
Now is the time to not only show economic restraint by example, but also time to help kids learn to entertain themselves, and appreciate substance — their family and community.