I will probably elaborate on this subject a bit more later, as it is something that is very close to my heart, but both Nicholas Carr and Rob Horning (via Andrew Sullivan) need to be seriously smacked down from that very high horse they ride around. I love rampant snobbery as the best of us; I am happy to be labeled a music Nazi, living up there in the Ivory Tower watching seventies movies and proclaiming they are "alluring", "elegant" and "brilliant post-Marxist deconstructions of the male ethos" if needed.
But seriously, critizing Guitar Hero by quoting the post-consumption theorizing of Jon Elster? I know Jon Elster, sir (seriously, I do. I told you I am thick-rimmed glasses intellectual) and he will call you bullshit in that statement. They really don´t get the point.
Guitar Hero (and its awesome, badass, glorious full-band successor, Rock Band) it is not music for people that don´t have time for learning to play music. It is not a cheap, fast food version of glory for morons; melody and rythm for dilettantes, those guys too lazy and lacking the level of true awesome to learn to play guitar (or drums) for real.
Why? Well for starters there is a whole bunch of people out there that will never be able to learn to play a real instrument. I love music; I have a ton of it. I workship all the right bands and musicians. I am a member of the "in" crowd, card carrying hipster armed with iPod and Gigabytes of awesome music. Despite the fact that I fart good taste, I am completely, utterly, totally devoid of music talent. I can not hit a note to save my life. My sense of rythm is non-existant. My fingers are as good as iogurt when trying to strum a guitar. I can´t follow a drum pattern even if it was 10 beats per minute. You get the idea.
What someone as musically inept as myself has left to fullfill his music fantasies (Glory! Fans! Arenas!) is either rocking out in the shower (sad) or getting into the fake plastic guitar business. It is that simple. Those games are basically a better, more fun way to enjoy music; not just listening, but playing along even if you are completely talentless. You focus and the music and let go; yes, it is just a game, but it feel awesome. If turned all the way to eleven, you do it with three friends, in a friggin´ band, and call it Rock Band, possibly the best party game of all time this side of Wii Sports.
Of course, having fun is probably not good enough for those that crave the pain of learning. It is not music if you don´t make your fingers bleed. Whatever. I will never be able to learn for real; let me enjoy my cheap imitation.