I am writing an essay and I need a word for a movie and a book.

Background info: they're both about World War I, but show different aspects.

Is the word, entertainment, appropriate?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Mari-Lou A, AndyT, JJJ, J. Taylor, jimm101 Apr 11 '18 at 16:09

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    Your question makes little sense. Are you asking whether movies and books are forms of entertainment? Are you looking for a hypernym? – Mari-Lou A Apr 11 '18 at 9:04
  • But do capitalise 'i' and a letter starting a sentence. // The obvious term for films (but not books) in this genre is 'documentaries'. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 11 '18 at 10:09
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    Depends on the contents, I would guess. – Hot Licks Apr 11 '18 at 12:14
  • You meant entertaining (amusing or interesting)? – haha Apr 11 '18 at 12:33
  • Check the dictionary definitions. Unless amusement or serving drinks is involved, I don't think it's the word you want. – jimm101 Apr 11 '18 at 16:09

'Entertainment' tends towards a light feeling, like a performance, a circus, magician's trick or dance. A sculpture or painting is not exactly as fun as and 'entertainment' would sound strange for them. Writing is somewhere vaguely in between.

So it depends on the nature of the movie or book.

Is it non-fiction, like a documentary about the 1914 Christmas exchanges, or a book about the invention of tanks? Those are not usually considered entertainment. For those you could say 'work' or 'information' as in "There are a number of non-fiction works about WWI"

Or is it fiction, like the book or movie 'All Quiet on the Western Front'? You might use entertainment (despite that particular work being a bit serious). But you'd more likely use something more specific like 'drama' or 'tragedy'. If it were a comedy film about WWI, then, yes, that could reasonably be called an 'entertainment', a very rare one.

  • To elaborate on the last paragraph, what may be confusing the OP is that entertainment is sometimes used in a very broad sense, that includes serious and even tragic works. For example, in-flight entertainment covers everything that the airline makes available on the screen in front of you, which may include tragedies as well as comedies. All these movies are products of the entertainment industry. It is true, though, that using the word in this very broad sense is not suitable for the specific purpose that the OP is asking about. – jsw29 Apr 12 '18 at 5:18

One important outcome of the waging of WWII was George Marshall's (then US President Roosevelt's Army Chief of Staff) creation of the Army Signal Corps as an important media tool for efficiently educating huge numbers of soldiers as well as the American public on factors related to training and motivating war initiatives and readiness. Cinema was a foundational media for this purpose as has been well described in Frank Capra's autobiography The Name Above the Title. Capra was instrumental in implementing Marshall's strategy insofar as he lead and produced the multi-part Why We Fight series for this purpose. Marshall's initiative was among the early examples of cooperation between Hollywood and Washington.

In the 1950s US President Dwight Eisenhower gave a famous speech in which he used the term military-industrial complex to describe the post-WWII network of defense- (war-) related industries. More recently, wags have coined the term military-entertainment complex (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military-entertainment_complex) which the wiki link defines as "a concept relating to the cooperation between the military and entertainment industries to their mutual benefit, especially in such fields as cinema, multimedia and virtual reality," describing the widening of narrowly defined, siloed, purely defense and purely cinematic industries into the much wider and overlapping arenas of defense and entertainment economic activities.

However, the military-entertainment complex was in a nascent state in WWI, if it existed at all. Thus, retroactively applying the term military-entertainment complex to books and works of that historic period may be an anachronistic usage.

While this backstory may be useful grist for the mill, it is probably not of much help in directly answering your specific question. In general terms and to @Mitch's point entertainment implies light diversion. Using his example of All Quiet on the Western Front, this work hardly qualifies as such since it is profoundly anti-war in emphasizing war's disasters and horrors. Similarly, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind has been an historic best-selling popular novel for over a century and, therefore, qualifies as entertainment. But even GWTW has strong anti-war elements as the 1939 Oscar winning film version makes clear, e.g., the famous scene of the heroine Scarlett O'Hara wading through a sea of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers.

Thus, some qualification is needed, perhaps distinguishing between fiction and nonfiction in the case of your book and the genre of your movie, e.g., documentary, drama, melodrama, etc.

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