Thursday, March 25, 2021

Put on the blame on what, again?

So after last week I've found myself re-playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for reasons I'm not entirely ready to explore. (Suffice to say that it's a game that encourages you to act horribly, which is definitely one way to blow off steam...) But it's a little different playing it now than it was when I first played it back in the day...

GTA:VC was published in 2002, but it's set during the 1980s (in a fictional city in Florida, but that's neither here nor there). In-game activities include stealing a great many cars, racing, chasing, shooting, and generally creating all sorts of mayhem. (I just finished starting a gang war last night.) All of this has the ultimate goal of taking over the entire criminal underworld, and especially the drug trade, in Vice City.

So this game, published in 2002, is set in the eighties; and as a result, the radio stations more or less all play 80s music (along with satirical fake-80s advertisements and talk radio programs). And the New Wave station -- remember New Wave? -- includes "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles: 

See? I really am going somewhere with this thought. 

Anyway, the song is lamenting the way that television, and especially brave new world of music videos, had put a number of traditional singers out of jobs. The basic idea (which was not unfounded) that musical talent was no longer enough to succeed; singers had to look good as well, and that was an artistic tragedy arising, in no small part, from the development of new technologies. 

And this is the part that's been poking at me, because it plays a bit differently here in 2021 than it did back in 2002 -- or back in 1980, for that matter. When the song first came out, it was a timely lament of a current issue. In 2002, it sounded more nostalgic and perhaps even ironic: "Remember when MTV used to play music videos?" 

But, well, here in 2021, "put all the blame on VCR" isn't just amusingly dated; technology has made another complete shift and VCRs are now also a thing of the past -- and the DVDs and Blu-Rays that replaced them are rapidly headed that way as well. 

So I guess what I'm trying to express here is the uncomfortable realization that this song about good things that have become outdated by the passage of time has now, itself, become outdated by the passage of time.

TL/DR: I feel old!

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