The 21st century has blessed us with technological advancements that touch our daily lives. Inevitably, these technological developments have influenced the entertainment world. Entertainment has many forms: performances like music, dance or drama, as well as cultural products like TV shows, games and literature. It has changed over the centuries and in the age we live in, there are also digital options like e-literature, streaming content and virtual reality experiences. They can be enjoyed from any place, time and in different formats. Critics argue that newer entertainment forms are rendering older ones obsolete. However, they give us more entertainment choices. And more than being a cure for boredom, they have positive psychological benefits.

There are so many entertainment choices in the 21st century! | By Nantia Kinikli

new entertainment models, more options

Technological innovations have given us an abundance of entertainment options, changing the ways media is consumed, produced and distributed.

globalisation and counterflows

With the Internet, we can enjoy content from anywhere in the world, inviting cultural counterflows that challenge the media hegemony.


We are all prosumers, eager to share content we produced and to consume media posted by others.

new entertainment models, more options

The latest technologies have revolutionized daily entertainment. With the introduction of a wide range of entertainment platforms and options in the last decade and the wide adoption of the Internet, we can be entertained at all times. Ever-increasing digitization has disrupted different industries including music, television, movies, books and art (Walfdogel, 2017). Digital music enables us to enjoy lots of music without having to possess mountains of records. Movies are brought into living rooms through streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. We can enjoy electronic books or digital art, complementing the ones on our shelves and walls. 

Even though these innovations make life more fun, there are issues to think about. For instance, there is a shift from ownership to access. In the past, people mostly purchased a cultural product like music (in the form of a CD for example). Nowadays, we pay for access to a library (Spotify, Netflix). We subscribe to such platforms for easy access to content. This big variety of products may be nice (although some people might say we have too many choices), they are not completely ours. If artists or the platforms remove a specific product, subscribers will not be able to access it anymore. Entertainers and platforms can remove their content anytime, limiting our power as consumers. People in the entertainment industry also have to contend with diminishing returns. Payments from streaming are much smaller than income from selling CDs and records in the past. Nevertheless, producers, artists and other people in entertainment realise the value of putting their products on such platforms and (possibly) reaching a global audience. 

Everything is becoming digital, which means intangible. And as entertainment forms move online, illegal streaming services also emerge (Rai, 2021). Mostly, these services are run by external players who are not from the music nor the movie industries (p.40). This creates an environment for illegal behaviours. Such sites can undermine the whole entertainment industry by offering content that artists worked hard on for free.

Streaming services like Netflix have revolutionised the entertainment industry – and it started not in the way you would expect! | Business Casual via Youtube

Digital technology has given books a new lease on life. Since 2007, Kindles have been making readers’ lives easier by carrying a huge variety of (e-)books in a small device. 

VR goggles introduce a new type of entertainment that puts the senses and body experiences to the fore. The wearer can enjoy an immersive experience in a three-dimensional environment.

The iPod, released in 2001, redefined music entertainment. People can enjoy music wherever, instead of being stuck at home listening to records.

Popular streaming services like Netflix and HBO have a large variety of content for their subscribers to enjoy anytime. On these platforms, people binge-watch series like ‘Game of Thrones’.


New technologies have given artists more formats to work with. For everyone else, we have more art forms to enjoy, like digital art, immersive art, memes and so on.


globalisation and counterflows

Traditionally, the West has led the global cultural industries in a ‘West to the rest’ flow of information. But the balance is shifting. The relationship between Western and non-Western cultural flows has become complicated. While the Big 6 media conglomerates still dominate the media landscape (Levy, 2022), there are strong counterflows from other regions. For instance, South Korea has given us many dramas, films, and idols to obsess over. Bollywood films are popular outside of India (Vohra, 2018), while the Japanese wield influence in the animation (Noh, 2014) and gaming industries (Prisco, 2017). The Internet, widely adopted in the 2000s, helped facilitate these media exports and connect fans around the world. Oftentimes, these exports receive generous government funding as they are soft power tools (Walsh, 2014). You only need to see the success of Parasite (2019) and Squid Game (2021) to understand. The former swept the awards circuit that year, injecting some much-needed diversity in Hollywood (Check out #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUpGlobes). The latter inspired Halloween costumes and Squid Game tournaments worldwide – one at our very own Markt! 

But people in entertainment have been taking inspiration from each other for a while. After all, drawing from a global pool of ideas gives us great content! Some of the best directors working today – Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and the Wachowskis, to name a few – modelled their movies after anime like Ghost in the Shell (Rose, 2009). Conversely, today’s massively popular K-Pop idols were influenced by American music and artists (LA Film School, n.d.).

Studios also take advantage of our increasingly connected world to make transnational productions. Cooperation between countries in the entertainment industry leads to better distribution deals abroad, a larger audience base and the exchange of creative ideas and culture. However, some transnational productions have been plagued by accusations of tokenism (Seewood, 2015), lack of diversity (Rose, 2017), cultural appropriation and racism (Khan, 2014). So while globalisation presents many opportunities in entertainment, we should be mindful of the drawbacks.

Children descend onto Maastricht, the Netherlands to play Red Light, Green Light from the popular Korean show Squid Game | 1Limburg via Youtube

Link is a character from The Legend of Zelda, created by the Japanese company Nintendo. Although released in 1986, the game is still popular and has fans across the globe.

Funko Pops are vinyl figurines of characters. Funko has licenses with major media players like Disney and their figures evoke nostalgia for collectors. Although following Japanese chibi style, Funko is from USA.

user-generated content

Technological advancements in the twenty-first century has led to the invention of gadgets and the widespread use of the Internet. With a smartphone in most people’s hands, we have the chance to consume content anytime. We also produce content and broadcast it online. We have become, as Toffler (1980) calls it, prosumers.

Charli D’ Amelio, a teenager who posts dance videos on Tiktok, is the most followed user on the platform. Her posts lead to dance challenges and inspire other users to create their own dance videos | Bryant Eslava for TIME

User-generated content (UGC) is digital content made by people outside of media institutions and are uploaded (usually) for free (Ritzer et. al., 2012). Most creators post them on social networks or media sharing sites like Instagram and Tiktok. People enjoy creating them, as well as browsing and interacting with other users on the platform. UGC inspires creative freedom and makes the web a more entertaining place! UGC also gives users power. We are no longer limited to consuming products from media giants. Anyone can share their ideas, talents and image on platforms for others to enjoy. While it can be empowering, it also enables people to spread lies or hate (Laub, 2019). The popularity of UGC has also led to new marketing tactics. Brands work with creators directly and have them feature certain products in their content. These influencers’ perceived authenticity and connection with followers make them effective ambassadors. Some brands also run marketing campaigns centred on UGC. They invite users to submit content which are then featured in their marketing campaigns.

Critics remind us that when we post so much of ourselves online, there are privacy issues to consider. Some also say that we have become obsessed – obsessed with ourselves, with documenting every aspect of our lives, and being connected all the time. So much so that there is now a condition that describes our fear of being disconnected. It’s called nomophobia (No Mobile Phone Phobia) and it was coined in 2008 (Bhattacharya et. al., 2019). So as we create and consume, we need to be critical too.

Brands like Go Pro invite users to submit content taken with their products, which may be featured in marketing materials | GoPro via Youtube


Content creators use microphones like this one for making videos, podcasts and more for other users or their followers to enjoy. Many users upload their content on Youtube (2005 – present).



time for a little game


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