I can tell it is a slow Friday at work for y’all. My blog stats are up, despite only having one post up today on account of travel! Stats are always highest during the work day. When I used to work an office job I swear some days I thought I found the end of the internet. I know what goes on out there. They key is to position your desk in such a way that your boss can’t see what you are doing. (That is if they can’t monitor you.) That way you can be playing video games and shit, but you’ll be so quiet that they will think you are a diligent worker. I once worked somewhere where there was an extremely high turnover rate. After about a year, except for management, I was the longest serving worker. Someone remarked that the reason I lasted so long was that I was always at my desk, quiet and hard working. I was playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out when they made that comment!
So if you read my blog while you are at work I understand. I support it. There are a lot of soul-crushing, mind-numbing jobs out there. American is full of jobs that bring zero meaning to one’s life. As well as working office jobs I was also a janitor for awhile, among other things. Today on the van ride home I was thinking that at least when you are a janitor and you clean something, or you mow a field, it looks nice. Even if it doesn’t last you can be proud of it and it increases of the quality of other people’s lives. Kids can play on a nice newly cut field. I’m not saying you didn’t do a lot of stupid shit as a janitor, you did, but at least you had tasks where you could take pride in your work some days. Some of those office jobs were beyond meaningless. You almost felt that the work you did was so meaningless that you somehow were going back in time creating more work, instead of getting anything accomplished.
Why is it that we value some people’s jobs more than others? Often that value has no real connection with a job’s value to society. (Hey it’s Friday afternoon. I thought it would be a good time to raise these questions. If you try really hard you can black out enough over the weekend that this blog will be a long distant memory!) All I’m really trying to get at it that we should not be so quick to judge those who have jobs that we find undesirable. Society would be pretty bad if the blue collar workers all got up in quit, but the world worked just fine before the internet.
And don’t think I am casting judgment from down on high because for the moment I am making my living as a musician and don’t have to work a day job except for on occasion. Even if you aren’t willing to hear the argument that being a musician is not as glamorous as you think, there is no guarantee that this lifestyle is going to last. Second, I’m pretty sure that if the deal goes down, and World War III starts, that playing a guitar will most likely qualify you for cannon fodder!
But its ok. I am used to non-sympathetic treatment. I remember one time my brother and I were riding tractors mowing grass on a super hot summer day. A local denizen, who knew we were both musicians, was jogging by and asked my brother how our day was. Covered in grass, bitten by flies, and sunburned, my brother replied that our day was pretty shitty. To which the citizen replied, “Why don’t you sing me a fucking song about it!”
I almost feel as if my soul is dying, commenting on Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show. I feel compelled to because it felt like some strange new paradigm has been achieved. I feel like we have finally crossed the threshold where human life is sometimes more meaningless than a video game, and sometimes video games have more at stake than real life. That’s what it looked like to me, one big video game, where the only things missing were Japanese anime characters, Mario, and Luigi. Which actually might have been trippy enough to hold my attention if there was anything akin to real human emotion at the core. It was musical entertainment without the music. It was reality virtual.
I realize that most pop music has ceased to be anything but a marketing tool for a long time, but this felt different. (And not just because this was the first shoppable Super Bowl Halftime Show.) If one can be skull fucked in a vacuum then, like the banner former President Bush once stood in front of, “mission accomplished!”
ISIS Using Video Games for Propaganda
The above link is to a Salon article about how ISIS and other jihadist groups are using video games for propaganda. As someone that just got a video game console for my birthday from my girlfriend, video games are on my mind. Over the years I have played video games on and off. There are some like Final Fantasy X, one of my all time favorites, which are really incredible works of art. If you haven’t played many games you would be surprised to know that there are some which are emotional experiences with stories rivaling good movies. There are also some where the amount of artistry and creativity that goes into them has to be seen to be believed. Some have so much detail that just looking at the background can be like looking at a fantastic landscape painting.
However, this Salon article got me thinking about how are own video games are subject to propaganda. This is not a new subject, but simply one I have never addressed here. If you read the article you will see that certain games are designed in conjunction with the US Military. There is one game they provide a link to that even includes General Petraeus. (seen above) It’s probably not surprising to many of you, even those of you that don’t play games, that there are games where players portray soldiers fighting generic Middle Eastern bad guys.
Earlier this year I read a book which talked about how the the military and CIA manipulated Hollywood to put propaganda in movies and television. It is no different in video games or really any form of entertainment. Entertainment is one way in which the Military Industrial Complex can shape the views of citizens.
I am no fan of censorship of any kind. I am also aware that violence in video games has been linked to all kinds of societal ills which are really more complex. Often video games get scapegoated because we don’t want to look at how we treat the mentally ill in our country, among other things. However, when someone is playing a game, just like if you are watching a movie or reading a book, one must ask oneself what message it is trying to get across. Also, much more than just violence, I think parents should be concerned at the propaganda that their kids might be consuming. We must always be taught to think and to question.
How many of you know the name of this character?
Information on above character
And now how many of you, off the top of your head, can remember what the Fourth Amendment pertains to?
The Fourth Amendment
I am willing to bet there are a lot more people that know the answer to the first question than the second.
And I’d be lying if I said for sure I would have gotten the second one right from memory! Just a little test to make you think about where we’re at.
The above is an interesting article on how advertising influences kids. It was written by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic. I think with Netflix, DVD’s, and video games, that now is a better time than ever to keep TV advertising out of the home. Plus as George Carlin has pointed out, they can always just go out in the yard and dig a hole with a stick!