I don’t know. Maybe it’s my age, but I never got the whole Hunter S. Thompson thing. They called him a “gonzo journalist” but all that was ever gonzo was myself when I saw his byline. I rarely read his stuff, but when I did, I barely made it through an article. It just all felt like babble to me. Thompson seemed to have hit his apex somewhere in the early ’70s, when I was still just a foot tall, drooling and helpless, so maybe I was simply born too late to really comprehend what he might have meant socially or how exactly he contributed to pop culture in a meaningful way.
Don’t get me wrong, either, I don’t discount pop culture pioneers just because of their age. It’s just that I feel like Thompson’s modus operandi was more fueled by drugs and excessive verbosity than real, actual ideas. Of course, this can be said just about any ’60s or ’70s icon, especially in regards to music or writing. So my admiration for, say, Gram Parsons, might seem hypocritical to many, but it’s not to me. I believe Parsons had the ideas before he inhaled and the substances, perhaps, enhanced the results. What do I know? Maybe Thompson was a genius. He sure got the description of Nixon spot-on when he described him as “that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character.”
However, I believe the biggest clue in why he wasn’t a genius lies in the methodology of his demise. Like most of his work, it simply doesn’t make sense.
The Boston Globe ran an excellent article in their Sunday Magazine this past weekend about video games and the now age-old question: do they or do they not effect children’s behavior now and/or later in life? The article didn’t really try to solve the equation, instead it just tried to see both sides of the issue. I’m not really sure where I fall in the two camps. I’ve been a video gamer for over twenty years now, albeit not as crazed or addicited as some people I know, and I’ve barely engaged in the kind of games where blood spatters everywhere or you have to carjack someone and hit them with a baseball bat or something. In fact, most of my gameplaying has revolved around either sports or, in my younger years, engaging in battles with enemy spacecraft. Personally, I don’t feel like I’d be any more or less aggressive had I not played a single video game in my lifetime. The same goes for laziness. Again, I don’t feel like I’m the best test subject here, but I’m a good one.
But I will say this (and this is addressed in the article): I think there’s something to the argument that it has an effect on children and I believe it’s more physical than mental. Obesity is the big buzzword these days and it doesn’t take a PhD to see it with your own eyes every day – kids are fatter. Period. Video games certainly cannot solely take the rap for this, but it has to be a part of the equation. I guess, once again, it all comes down to good parenting, a topic which I know very little about, seeing as though I do not have children. I suspect if I did, I might keep video games out of my kids hands entirely until they’re old enough to realize and be taught that it’s not the focus of their lives. I’ve seen many, many kids already – young kids, like four and five – who are just mesmerized by video games and that, frankly, scares me. It will be years before we can gauge the mental effects of this, but the article makes a good point when it addresses these young children in school and how normal, everyday events like class and recess don’t even move fast enough for them. Even television shows don’t move fast enough for them. That can undisputably be attributed to video gaming. It continues to be an interesting sociological movement.
UPDATE: see another interesting article on video games posted at CNet here.
I know I’ve mentioned Harp Magazine before at some point, but I’ve just finished digesting the April 2005 issue and with each passing month, my feelings grow stronger – this might be the best music magazine of today. This month’s feature stories include Kings of Leon (whose new album I will get immeadiately upon release), Kathleen Edwards, Beck, Ray Lamontagne and Robert Pollard and author Nick Hornby provides answers in a Q&A section. Now, it is my belief that if you asked me to define my taste in music by citing artists, this could very well be the closest a magazine could come today. As as added bonus, there’s never an issue where I don’t circle 6-8 album reviews that sound good enough to go sample. I hope they stick around for a while.
I wish I could just write all day, every day. Blogs, books, magazines, newspapers….you name it.