The traditional benefits of entertainment were the pleasures of the experience. For that, you had to see the movie, read the book or hear the CD. These were — and are — powerful pleasures, powerful enough to make entertainment a multibillion-dollar industry. But as society has grown more complex and the information we can know has grown exponentially, knowingness — the idea of being in the know and of having the expertise to navigate through the haystacks of available information to find the needles — has come to provide an arguably more satisfying form of gratification. That's why the knowingness industry, including the Internet, seems more vital than the entertainment industry. Google is the new metaphor for fulfillment.
Conventional entertainments like movies face a terrible double-whammy — lifies supersede them and knowingness makes seeing them irrelevant.
-- "Movies Just Don't Matter," LAT, July 31, 05
I will admit, when I read this piece, I was expecting some reference to the practice of embedding older cultural references in new cultural contributions, a la The Simpsons, any of Terry Pratchett's Discworld or Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, or in comics by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison or Neal Gaiman (which have spawned volumes of annotations to explain the references). I had also noticed a lot of you-have-to-know-the-reference-to-get-the-joke business in Stella, so I've been chewing on cultural literacy again. (Yes, again: check out earlier posts here and here)
Instead, Neal Gabler argues that the cultural artifact (i.e. movie) is pretty much a little totem for the bigger activity: reaffirming our understanding of the larger community. I'm not sure I buy this just yet -- I think the knowingness kick is pretty specific to a small group of people who probably would have been like this back in the day when it took 'zines and almanacs and library trips to satisfy the info jones.