Guitar Hero Must Die!

Saturation yuletide advertising has finally convinced me u000athat virtual music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, in which participants u000aattempt to "play" classic metal solos by following flashing light sequences on u000aguitar-shaped plastic peripherals, pose an even greater threat to the future of u000arock 'n' roll than Simon Cowell. u000a For confirmation that these games are an unpleasant u000avictory for short-attention commercial exploitation, we need look no further u000athan a South Park episode titled "Guitar u000aQueer-o," in which Stan and Kyle become Guitar Hero heroes, and, when Stan's u000adad attempts to teach the fourth graders to actually play a real guitar, Cartman u000ascathingly responds that "real guitars are for old people." u000a What's being exploited here is as old as rock 'n' roll u000aitself. Few of us have not, at some time in our lives, or perhaps as recently u000aas this morning, played clandestine air guitar or posed in front of a mirror u000apretending to be Elvis , Jimi , Joe Strummer , or even Joe Satriani . But the u000aglobal electronic game corporations who have co-opted this youthful narcissism u000ainto a competitive game of manual dexterity, with plastic reproductions of u000aGibsons and Fenders, are having a negative impact on music's future. OK, so we u000atolerated Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear to Bob Seger in Risky Business , but enough is, u000aculturally speaking, enough. u000a Guitar Hero and Rock Band broaden the perceived gulf u000abetween performer and audience by pandering to the most juvenile extremes of u000arock 'n' roll idol worship. Worse than that, they betray the great populist u000apromise of rock 'n' roll--which has held good from the days of The Shadows --that u000aany garage band with a set of cheap instruments and perfunctory chops can u000aachieve icon status if it gets the breaks and is sufficiently relentless. u000a Equally unpleasant is the unseemly rush by many of our u000acurrent guitar "heroes" to lease their music for inclusion. Among the shameless u000aare Aerosmith , Metallica , Motorhead , AC/DC and the Sex Pistols , while The u000aBeatles and the Jimi Hendrix estate are reportedly ready to deal. Whether or u000anot this is more heinous than flogging one's songs for TV commercials is open u000ato debate, but the basic absurdity is underscored by the song "Thunderhorse" by u000a DethKlok --the fictional death metal band from the U.S. TV cartoon show Metalocalypse --being incorporated in Guitar Hero II . u000a At a time when musical education in schools has become a u000acause célèbre, the promotion of video games that offer nothing more than a u000aclosed loop of virtual experience, devoid of creativity, does nothing to help. u000aA spokesman for the game makers has claimed that they teach "sensitivity to rhythm, as well as develop the dexterity u000aand independent hand usage necessary to play the instrument," but this seems u000adisingenuous when the games do nothing to impart the real fundamentals of u000amusic. u000a And just to add injury to u000ainsult, an outfit called Mad Catz in San u000a Diego, California u000awill retrofit a perfectly good Fender Stratocaster, replacing strings, pickups u000aand fretboard with the input controls for Rock Band. u000a Is nothing sacred? u000a Commune u000awith fellow music maniacs at . Mick Farren blogs at u000a . u000a

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