I was watching MTV last night (think about the correlating irony here as my little rant unfolds), the new Beavis and Butt-head episodes are now in rotation, and as an adult who remembers the original episodes, I wanted to check out how badly they would botch the new episodes. MTV has actually done a decent job, but don’t expect a carbon copy of the original -- there are definitely some tweaks in an effort probably to appeal to today’s youth. Anyway, MTV always provides many opportunities to subject yourself to mainstream consumerism and during one of these opportunities a commercial about a new video game aired. The commercial boasted that you could use a real guitar, plug it into the video game console, and it would teach you how to play guitar. The game is called Rocksmith . I didn’t think much of it at first, but luckily MTV presented me with the same commercial at least 3 more times and each time I got more angry about this concept.
It’s irritating the cr*p out of me that everybody and their brother thinks they can or should be a musician so that they can reach some kind of new stature of cool. Don’t be fooled this game isn’t a teaching tool, it’s an attempt to cash in on the mainstream group think. American Idol, The Voice, and the half a dozen other shows of that nature all continuously pumping this idea into today’s youth that you, too, can play an instrument and become a rock star. Parents are buying into this idea also -- the new Rock 'n' Roll Elmo just came out and already pre-Halloween, the Elmo guitar is sold out at a Kmart I visited! Anyone want to take bets on how fast this Rocksmith game or the new Rock Band version whatever sells out before Christmas? Kids with guitars are the new scratch-off tickets for adults.
Don’t misunderstand me, I highly encourage anyone with a music interest to pursue it, but take an earnest approach. There is a natural order to the music industry, just like in the wild -- some (the dedicated and talented ones) stick with it, survive, and produce good things and others fall off along the way. All that these types of games accomplish is to widen the musician population base, which isn’t a good thing because that means more competition and dilution of the industry for the kids who actually have a real desire and talent to play music. If you have desire, why do you need to score points or make some sort of game out of playing music? If you love music and love playing it, then you will suffer through sitting in your room alone building calluses on your fingertips while fumbling through "Twinkle, twinkle, little star." That’s the way it goes and these are the people I want making music. I’m just saying 10 years from now I don’t want to listen to your delusional child’s version of a rock song on the radio.
So, you might ask why I’m picking on Rocksmith in particular and not Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The difference is this, Guitar Hero and Rock Band don’t foster any delusions that you are actually a musician. Pushing buttons on the hunks of plastic that resemble an instrument just fulfills the fantasy desire to pretend to be a musician. Rocksmith compels some people to start thinking they are musicians, just because they are playing a real guitar. Rock and Roll used to be for a select set of people, people with something to say or unnaturally god-given talent that they could actually make a living off performing. Musicians used to be a big part of protests and political rallies and although I’ve only been watching the media coverage, I have seen hardly any musician playing instruments amongst the “Occupy” or other recent protest crowds. Compare and contrast to the 60s protest rallies. Where has rock gone? To the mainstream like some packaged commodity. Its power has been diluted. It means nothing beyond entertainment to the masses and Rocksmith-like video games are proof.