Thursday, April 21, 2011
It's a Dead Man's Party
Here's another one of those commercials that are so spectacularly awful, so knee-deep in stupid, that it's almost impossible to work up the energy to even snark on it. I'll give it a shot anyway, because next to cell phones, the "adults playing stupid video games" phenomenon really bothers me more than any other.
So we've got two arrested-development exhibits sitting on a couch apparently oblivious to the fact that a party featuring pretty girls has broken out behind them. They are using handheld controllers to manipulate characters on a tv screen into punching, shooting, slicing and gouging each other while tossing seriously lame quips that would be considered weak by 15-year olds , Roger Moore, or any character in the last Star Wars Trilogy.
One of the pretty girls notices that two loud males are doing what I guess passes as the "sociable" thing these days- playing a freaking video game rather than, oh, I don't know, mixing with other guests and engaging in conversation (hey, they aren't texting people not at the party- that's something, right?) Her reaction to their game is perplexing to say the least- is it astonishment, interest, disgust, what? I'd go with disgust, but I really doubt that's what we are supposed to infer, because...
By the time one of the characters in the incredibly violent, obviously pointless knob of a game is being sawed in half on the screen, it appears that most of the people at this party have become so bored with their attempts to make conversation with people whose social skills have been retarded by years of texting and IMing that the "action" on the television is an acceptable distraction. We aren't allowed to watch these sad misfits gather around the couch, however, because the makers of this shameful mess would rather show us scenes of other males all over the country reacting to the dismemberment of their avatars with primal screams (these guys must make awesome neighbors, don't you think?)
I'm still sane enough to believe that while this reaction suggests a truly depressing disconnect from reality (seriously- do people get so caught up in this dreck that they forget it's just a game? IS IT just a game to these losers?) that is not the message we are supposed to derive from all this. Which means that all we are really left with is a decision concerning which aspect of this ad is most responsible for the empty feeling- is it that in this day and age, it's perfectly acceptable to play video games during parties, making these "get togethers" as socially isolating as everyday life? Is it that these worthless, grubby mushrooms think they are being clever with So Obvious They Really Need To Be Left Unsaid quips like "I hope you didn't plan on having children?" Is it that conversation is now seen as decidedly inferior to playing video games?
Or is it more elemental- maybe the most depressing thing about ads like this is the very concept of adult video games. I played video games when I was a teenager- Space Invaders, Time Pilot, Qbert, etc. I had an Atari game system, and I had friends over to play games like Tank Commander, Mad Bomber, Frogger, and Atari Bowling. Sometimes my parents played, too. It was always a lot of fun and quality time.
But at some point, I went away to college and drifted away from video games. I'd go to an arcade now and then, but the home system got packed up and passed on to the younger kids in the family. These days I play arcade games one week a year, while on the annual vacation at Hampton Beach NH. It's fun because it's kind of nostalgic, and it's different. Video games, you see, are not part of my everyday life. Because I'm an Adult.
So I guess my real question is, when did it become ok for people to simply refuse to let go of childhood? What's the deal with people in their twenties, thirties, forties still wasting time sitting in basements, pretending to gun down terrorists or space mutants or Orcs for hour after hour, taking breaks for sleep and to pick away at a fake guitar while acting out the fantasy of being a rock star you REALLY should have abandoned by the time you graduated High School? Even if people have all this leisure time, why are they using it for THIS?
I'm sorry, I just don't get it. I never will- not as long as there are People, Books, and Outside to be experienced. The best part about those things is that they almost never drive me into a primordial scream. Almost never.