Thursday, August 17, 2006

In Line

I was in line at Walgreen's yesterday when a guy walked up behind me. I couldn't see him, but I could hear him.

His music, anyway.

Rap music. The guy must have been going deaf to have his music up so loud that I could hear it that well. I turned around and saw that he was holding a cell phone, and the cell phone was playing the music.

He looked hard. He was wearing a white tank top and he looked strong and hard, one of those kids that was always ready to throw down. He was probably twenty, too young to understand that no matter how hard you are, someone out there is harder.

And if you're hard all the time, he'll find you.

So I'm seeing this tough-looking kid in front of me and listening to his obscene rap music, and for just a moment I connect the two in my head: of course he's like that.

Never mind that it's the most ridiculous assumption in the world to make. For that one second, I had all the causal link I needed between rap music and a presumably violent lifestyle. It was proof.

So for one second, I felt like Jack Thompson.

I felt like I needed to go home and take a hot shower with a scrub brush just to get the stink off of me. Nothing like reducing the seven thousand plus days of a kid's life to his choice in music. That's pathetic. I was pathetic.

That's what people do when they don't understand something, though. I don't understand rap music. That doesn't mean I've never heard rap songs that I've like--I've heard at least a few--but I don't understand why people want to listen to that kind of music. I read explanations, but I don't feel any of them. I just don't get it.

Now if that same kid had been playing a violent game on a Gameboy, though, you know what would have been my first thought?

Gee, I wonder what game he's playing.

It would have never crossed my mind that what he played had anything to do with who he was as a person. It wouldn't have crossed my mind because I understand gaming. I play games. And I know they don't cause people to adopt a lifestyle. It's a totally ridiculous notion.

None of the crazy people passing the weekly unconstitutional piece of gaming legislation are actually gamers. Sure, that seems obvious, but I don't think it gets mentioned nearly often enough. And I'd be willing to bet that more than half the people in this country now (over the age of ten, anyway) play computer or console games in some form or fashion.

I've mentioned this before, but the demographics are in the process of absolutely turning against all this stupid legislation criminalizing game sales, even before they reach the judges who (as they properly defend the Constitution) laugh at these laws. Every year, the tail end of the demographic (maybe people over eighty, I don't know the exact cut-off to make this balanced mathematically), which consists of 99% non-gamers, is replaced by the front end of the demographic (age ten, where probably 80% of kids play games, if not even higher).

Ninendo launched the NES in the U.S. (nationwide) in February of 1986, just over twenty years ago. In ten years, a large percentage of parents will have grown up with gaming being as much a part of their lives as television.

And in ten years, or maybe sooner, this entire discussion, in the way it has been shamelessly politicized for personal gain, will be seen from the lens of history as the empire building of buffoons.

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