“Microphone included for rapping!”
When I was a kid in the late eighties, my parents finally listened.
They got me exactly what I wanted for Xmas, the Casio Rapman. It was a shitty 32-key synthesizer with a little grey turntable for “scratching.” The scratching thing was a total scam. There were two super-short scratch samples, but the refresh rate was not fast enough to use them together. Nevertheless, I loved the tinny (sounds like tin—not tiny) little keyboard. At least in my memory I loved it.
Fast-forward to 2009. While I’m at work, the Casio Rapman serendipitously crosses my mind. I check eBay on my phone and find a seller that has old stuff still in the sealed box. Here it is, a brand-new (old) Rapman delivered for $50! Aaaand…Buy It Now…Paypal. I’ll be rapping with the best of them because I’m officially a Rapman owner again. After the transaction, the toy was fast forgotten (as are most of my online purchases).
A week later, I got the package and excitedly tore into it. I know you’re thinking I was probably stoked to craft some funky-fresh beats and rhymes, but the opposite happened. An overwhelming sadness hit me. A terrible nostalgic feeling washed over me and made me embarrassed and sick. I just bought this vintage piece of crap that I will play with for five minutes. What a waste of $50. I thought about poor kids who wouldn’t be getting anything for Xmas. I thought of better things I could have spent the money on. I thought about how much other money and time I wasted on insignificant bullshit that neither progressed my life nor gave me lasting happiness.
This old toy had triggered an existential moment for me. A thousand years ago, we hunted for food and clothing. Centuries later, food and clothing could be purchased, so men hunted for recreation. Now we buy plastic shit for fun. The plastic shit becomes garbage. The garbage gets barged to China and burned.
Instead of doing shit, we watch other people do shit on screens. Instead of writing something new, we “comment” on what someone else wrote. Instead of making music, we think of band names.
There is a thick line between doers and spectators.
What are you doing?