Where do I fit?

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Isn’t it funny, sang Elton John. And he was right, about many many things.

But enough of such modern day philosophy, pop music is not what I want to discuss. Not today at least (although apparently, and somewhat unrelatedly, Crowded House are back together… who knew?).

Today I want to revist some of the posts and comments which appeared last week as, all told, it was all quite interesting. I’ll try and summarise but really you should go read the posts in question. Somehow from this post about a film trailer and a few (unrelated as it turns out) websites, my dearest dahling readers headed off into a discussion about video game violence, and prompted me to ponder the qualities and values in our society

Towards the end of the “video-games-corrupt” thread, Dragon said:

“I believe that video games today are villified in exactly the same way that television, pop music and comic books were in decades past. All of them were accused of lowering moral standards and corrupting the youth.”

And that neatly takes us into this quote, from Blue Witch, in the “good-society” thread:

“As I said, how one chooses to live one’s life today depends where one’s priorities and values reside, and how much one buys-in to consumerism.”

OK, maybe not all that neatly but there certainly seems to be a link there, more consumerism = more opportunity to villify?? OK, it’s a bit of a grasp.

Having just watched the last of the BBC’s documentaries on the History of Rock Music, the closing voxpops may shed some light on this… namely one from Stuart Marconie (yeah yeah, I know) but I have to agree with him that, currently, rock music is at the point where it’s happy to acknowledge those that have come before. Through the 60s, 70s and 80s, even the early 90s, rock music tried to be different, to steer itself in new directions. From the Beatles to the Stones, to Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and through to (early) Oasis and Blur, rock music continued to evolve. The current crop of rock bands — Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs for example — are happy to build on the foundations already there, pulling from punk, funk, metal and everything in-between and crucial are happy to admit that they are doing just that.

Similarly you could argue that video games are beginning to reach that point as well, with their place in culture assured (for better or worse), they are now starting to pull from one another, with platform ideas mutating across into shooters, puzzles appearing in adventure games and so on. I wonder how long it will take before they are, or perhaps if they will ever, be well enough understood to be accepted into the mainstream?

Mind you, that does seem to suggest that, for that to happen, society needs to accept that (some level of) violence is part of everyday life. It is for a lot of people but should it be encouraged? I don’t think that video games are solely to blame for the “state of the youth today” (hello Daily Mail readers!), but I do think that more consideration about their content may be required.

On the other hand, it’s so easy to get hold of things these days that maybe video games are purely victims of their own success and hype. Slapping a label on a video game doesn’t mean that a 10 year old won’t play a game, just as it didn’t mean that a 10 year old wouldn’t be able to see an 18 rated movie. The difference, of course, is that movies used to have a physical barrier. You had to get inside the cinema (or wait a year until a video copy could be purloined and watched, whilst everyone else was out in the garden, on the single video player in the house).

With more people having more ‘stuff’, children frequently have access to a computer, their own TV and DVD player, not to mention a games console.

Stack them all up and any smart kid can download anything they want, and do it all in the “privacy” of their own bedroom. Consumerism isn’t to blame here though, some form of parental guidance and control must surely be expected.

Personally I don’t have kids, but I am a consumer, and all of this has left me wondering where I fit in. Am I a good member of society? I chat to my neighbours, offer to help on occasion, and buy gadgets (grown up toys) because I can afford them (well, technically I can manage my debt…). I live outside of my means on the basis that my lifestyle has little direct impact on others. The dichotomy arises when I look at that last sentence because I know it’s not true, yet it guides most of my life decisions.

But that’s for ME to deal with, and the more I think about it, the harder life seems until it becomes easier to take the “life is for living” line and wash away all those pesky morals.

And so my addled brain skips away from such difficult contemplations, for after all this is the age of the internet, the diversion, the overload. Instead I find myself wondering if this very kind of discussion is why blogging has grabbed the imagination, as we struggle to piece together the inter-linked and intricate facets that constitute life, is it any wonder we seem to need somewhere, anywhere, that we can cry out, in which we can shout and moan and wonder aloud?

A long time ago, on this very blog, I linked to someone (sorry can’t find the post in question) that said that blogging was “very much like standing at the edge of a cliff, and screaming your lungs out”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Further reading: Modern Communities.

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