Entertainment is slowing down in a bid to combat the stresses of daily life and help people relax.
What does entertainment look like in a wellness-focused world? Once a niche trend, slow media is reaching a new wave of consumers through mass distribution.
Baa Baa Land has been called “The dullest film ever made”—not by critics, but by its creators. The eight-hour slow-motion epic has no dialogue or storyline, focusing instead on a field of sheep from Tiptree, in the UK. Rather than entertain, the film was created to help people relax by encouraging them to unwind and even fall asleep.
“We all know how addicted everyone is to Netflix and YouTube, and we thought, wouldn’t it be cool to create one of the world’s most relaxing films?” Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm and co-executive producer of Baa Baa Land, told The Star. “We thought it’d fun and a little bit quirky, and hopefully people find it super relaxing.” Calm, a US-based website and app that aims to help users slow down and relax through meditation and mindfulness, commissioned the film, which premiered in theaters in London and is now available online.
Wellness is changing the face of entertainment, as “slow entertainment” offers a calming antidote to the hectic pace of modern life. This year, Netflix’s most talked-about show is Terrace House, a slow-moving Japanese reality show centered around six young adults who sit in a house and talk. Last year, the company streamed several programs from the Norwegian Broadcasting Company’s “Slow TV,” including the four-hour National Knitting evening and the seven-hour Train Ride: Bergen to Oslo. Another company embracing slow TV is the BBC, whose first 2016 foray into slow programming attracted close to a million viewers.
The revival of slow TV has inspired other mediums to slow down and embrace mindfulness. Last week, BBC Radio Three announced “Slow Radio,” a new podcast designed to escape the “frenzied world,” featuring the sounds of birds, mountain climbing and chanting monks. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just launched “Seeking Stillness,” a series of installations with themes that focus on contemplation, meditation and clearing the mind.
As discussed in our Well Economy report, wellbeing is now a top priority for consumers. Slow entertainment offers respite from the chaotic realities of the world, allowing people to escape and take comfort in mindful nothingness. Even in the era of “peak TV,” media companies are showing that there is an appetite for creative content that helps consumers unwind.