Friday, September 29, 2006

Public Speaking

‘On a list of the most feared human predicaments, public speaking comes second only to the fear of dying’ (Burton & Burton, 1994, p.158).

From tour guide to stand up comedian the ability to be able to speak confidently in front of an audience is essential in the entertainment industry. Public speaking comes naturally to very few people and it is essential that skills and techniques for successful public speaking are learned and developed at an early age (ideally whilst still in education).

Lashley and Best (2001) state that the characteristics of a good public speaker are:
–Plenty of eye contact.
–Good body language.
–Commands attention.
–Speaks with authority.

From an artist giving a talk about his / her work, to a knight in armour explaining the rules of combat, it is expected of most entertainers that they will speak to an audience at some point.

For those with aspirations of working within the entertainment industry it is never too soon to begin practicing public speaking techniques.

Burton, J. and Burton, L. (1994) Interpersonal skills for travel and tourism. Harlow, Longman.

Lashley, C. & Best, W. (2001) 12 steps to study success. London, Continuum Books.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Professional Wrestling Entertainment

Wrestling in its purest form is a spectator sport like any other, it’s origins date back thousands of years to ancient Egypt where it was both a pastime and a form of training for soldiers. It featured in the first modern Olympic games in 1896 and it still exists today as an Olympic event.

Professional Wrestling Entertainment such as what is practiced by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (WWE) is based upon this but cannot be deemed as being a spectator ‘sport’. A sport is something that involves both elements of physical activity and fair competition. Professional Wrestling Entertainment has transformed from being a sport into an event that contains theatrics and stunts, and where the wrestlers themselves are often acting out a script. Whilst the exertion of the wrestlers is certainly physical, and they prove themselves to be athletes, the competition is not always fair, with pre-determined acted out story lines and props often deciding who the winner will be. The wrestlers themselves have cult followings, the largest single market segment being teenage boys, and are portrayed along the same lines as super heroes and super villains.

The introduction of storylines, acting and theatrics has turned Professional Wrestling Entertainment into a multi-million dollar entertainment phenomenon. Revenue generated at wrestling matches in 2005 for WWE Inc was approximately $49 (£26) per head, with around 1.7 million spectators. Revenue is also generated through world-wide television audiences, movies, music, and product merchandising. Professional Wrestling Entertainment is a prime example of entertainment being used very successfully to drive sales of merchandise (anything from plastic figurines to toothbrushes), with revenues for WWE of over $100 million (£52.8 million) in 2005. This turns the industry into a very profitable one indeed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Put simply edutainment is entertainment that is designed to promote knowledge, awareness and learning. It primarily falls into the following categories:

  • Museums and Art galleries
  • Exhibitions
  • Zoos and Aquariums
  • Observatories and Planetariums
  • Conferences
  • Guided tours
  • Adult education classes
  • Art and craft demonstrations
  • Historic re-enactments
  • Shows and displays with an educational component e.g.
    Transport shows such as airshows
    Animal displays such as falconry

From the Cumberland Pencil Museum to Australia Zoo, we are surrounded by edutainment venues and facilities and should be encouraged to make use of them for our own development and lifelong learning. In the 1996 general election campaign Tony Blair cited 'education, education, edcuation' as being his top three priorities. There is no doubt that an educated society is a better society. Edutainment may involve people wanting to learn, or even learning by accident, what it can do is to help bring education to those who may not normally have access to formal education, and ultimately enrich peoples lives improving the world we live in.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some Unethical Entertainments of Centuries Past

As you may well have noticed, many of the articles within this blog look at the ethical aspects of entertainment. Ethics and entertainment have had an up and down relationship since the dawn of time. In ancient Rome gladiators fought to the death for the amusement of the crowd, slaves were thrown to lions and hundreds of thousands if not millions of animals were slaughtered in the very name of entertainment.

In comparatively more recent times, in fact from the 16th Century right up until 1870 Castrato opera singers were favoured throughout Europe. Castrato were men, who from the age of eight onwards were castrated which prevented many of the effects of puberty including the voice being deepened. The consequence of this was a singing voice that was able to reach the highest notes (soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto), powered by large male lungs. In Italy alone up to 4,000 boys a year were castrated, many of whom were from poor families. Castration of boys for this purpose was banned in Europe in 1870. The most famous Castrato singer of his day was Farinelli, who has been described as the worlds first musical superstar. Born Carlo Broschi in 1705, Farinelli's singing ability of mastecomposerer's work (including Handel) drew audiences that included France's King Louis XV, and Spain's Kings Philip V and Ferdinand VI. In later life Farinelli gained a reputation for being a bitter and wicked man, most likely due to his castration, he died in 1782.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

ETHICS: Fashion Police

The catwalks of Madrid and Milan have seen new regulations brought into place to ensure that models featured in fashion shows adhere to new health and weight guidelines. Rules have been brought in to prevent underweight models being used that may be seen as promoting anorexia.

In London this was not the case, and many designers were criticised for using underweight ‘stick thin’ models.

In a society where both under and over eating disorders are real issues, should the world of fashion be allowed to self regulate whether or not underweight models are used, or should government legislation be brought in to enforce who can and cannot model clothes on the catwalk?

Further information can be found on the following links:

BBC - Milan Models to Have Catwalk Code
CBC - Spanish Fashion Show Bans Underweight Models
BBC - Jowell Joins Sick Thin Model Row

Saturday, September 23, 2006

TECHNO ETHICS: The Price of Free Downloads

The internet has rapidly changed the way we live our lives, including work, communication, information gathering, and entertainment. Virtually anything can be found with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks – not all of which is completely legal. Yet many of us are prepared to fracture the odd law or two if it means easy access to a desired song, television program or blockbuster movie. This is something that Executives of music and media organisations have been slower to catch on to than what fileshare software designers have been. From a consumer perspective, the key to illegal downloads isn't just the fact that they are free (or very cheap), it is the fact that they are so easily accessible.

Today’s blog entry has been inspired by a web site called which for a lifetime joining fee of £4.95 will show any live Premier League, as well as French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese football matches that are being broadcast, this may be great news for those who do not wish to subscribe to subscription or pay-per-view sports channels – but it is not such great news for the channels themselves, or the football clubs that rely on television revenue. This is not the only site offering such services, another site called Live Footy offer a free service but to fewer channels. The main ethical consideration that many of us simply choose to ignore when utilising such services is the fact that somebody somewhere has taken the time to create the entertainment that we download for free, and our not-paying-for-it means reduced revenues for media companies which in turn means reduced royalties to artists and entertainers.

The music industry have finally cottoned on to the fact that people are downloading more and buying less, and so have sites like iTunes and other music download sites are beginning to appear. The TV industry is also catching on to this, and in the US certain TV programs can now be downloaded for a small fee. How long will it be before pay-per-view and subscription sports channels take up this also and begin to offer services via the web at a reduced cost? Lessons to be learned from the music industry would suggest that doing this sooner rather than later may help to reduce the number of people who live in a culture that accepts free and illegal downloads as the norm.

There are numerous web pages dedicated to the impact of downloads on the music, broadcast media, and cinema industries, some of which are linked below.

Other pages of interest and relevance (I'll add more as I find them):

Friday, September 22, 2006


Banksy the Bristol born artist with a political conscience has recently been making waves Stateside. Banksy managed to smuggle a figure dressed as a Guantanamo Bay detainee into Disneyland and placed it in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park in early September (more here).

Since then Banksy has faced criticism for placing a painted elephant in a living room for an art exhibition on global poverty and injustice.

Whether you agree with Banksy's point of views or not, there is no questioning the talent that this artist has for creating provocative artwork that inspires thought, reflection and discussion.

I recommend that you check out his web site here.

Mixed Fortunes for Britain's Museums

Whilst Tate Britain had a record 1.7 million visitors in 2005, things are not quite so rosey elsewhere in the UK Museum's sector. A core of government backed museums that contain national collections have been free entry since December 2001, which has resulted in enormous numbers of visitors to them from both the UK and overseas, with rises of up to 75% in visitor numbers. This in itself can cause problems through extra staff being required, and additional wear and tear on facilities that is not always paid for through only mildly increased revenues from Museums' retail operations.

The increase in competition from high profile 'national' free entry museums has proven to be a contributory factor in the demise of some of Britain's smaller independent museums that need to charge an entry fee to remain buoyant. The Cumberland Toy and Model Museum is one such example where increasing costs and reduced visitor numbers have lead to the closure of the museum, which in 1995 won the National Heritage Shoestring Award for achieving the best results with limited resources. Other museums that have closed include the London Toy and Model Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image, London.

Of course it would be unwise to blame the demise of one museum solely on the fortunes of another, the fact is that there are a rapidly increasing number of products and services that are competing for our disposable income and recreation time, and this is a trend that is set to continue and grow. The sad reality for many small independent organisations in the museums sector (and the Entertainment industry as a whole) is that unless continually new and innovative methods (which are often costly) are used to attract visitors, then further reductions in numbers are likely, which may mean further closures.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

ETHICS: No School Dinners at UK Tourist Attractions

According to BBC News online a 'secret mum' who visited fourteen UK tourist attractions, came away giving them a severe thumbs down for the healthiness of food on offer. Only THREE out of the fourteen managed to score more than 50% in the food health test. Attractions will simply argue on the basis of supply and demand. They have a steady supply of visitors who primarily demand 'fast foods' that are quick to order and simple to consume.

Whilst our schools are getting healthier, it is all too easy for adolescents and children to still access high fat and high calorie foods. The question is - do we want to live in a nanny state where what we eat is dictated to us? OR are we happy to adapt to the obesity epidemic that is threatening to sweep over our nation? More here

ETHICS: A Bridge Too Far? Safety Considerations for TV Executives

Only three weeks ago the world of entertainment was rocked by the extremely sad news of the death of Steve Irwin 'the Crocodile Hunter'. Irwin was killed in an accident whilst filming for an episode of his planned forthcoming television series 'The Ocean's Deadliest'. He was stabbed in the heart by a stingray's barb and died at the scene - with the camera still rolling.

Only yesterday the world of entertainment was rocked again with the news that BBC's 'Top Gear' presenter Richard Hammond was seriously injured whilst driving a Vampire Car, allegedly on an attempt to break the British land speed record - again with the camera still rolling. At the time of writing Richard remains in a critical but stable condition in Leeds General Infirmary.

Is now an appropriate time to ask if television personalities who are adored by millions of fans world-wide, should be putting themselves in so much danger? Whilst nobody can expect anybody to be wrapped in cotton wool, the enormous outpourings of grief to lose people whom we think of as friends and invite into our homes via our television sets, begs the question - is the price of entertainment really worth it? At the same time if these entertainers didn't put themselves into such dangerous situations, would we still really care about them? A little food for thought, to keep you going until the next morsel.

If anybody would like to donate to the West Yorkshire Air Ambulance that rescued Richard you can do so here.

Get well soon Hamster.

Welcome to my World

Hello, and welcome to Entertainment Planet, a new Blog designed to showcase what is happening in the world of Entertainment. This Blog is primarily aimed at students studying the BA (Hons) Entertainment Management course at Leeds Metropolitan University - but anyone and everyone else is welcome. Please feel free to reply to posts, pose questions, and begin discussion. Tally Ho!