Smile and Nod

Smile and Nod: Why Isn't It Fun?

Russ Pitts | 4 Aug 2008 17:00
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The dance completed, Mike's spirits soared and we got our footage. Earlier that same day we'd covered his campaign speech by the pool. The next day we'd given him one of the toughest interviews of his career, as he squatted in a bathtub the size of a small car, but that night was, for lack of a better term, the money shot. I'm not sure what all will come of Wilson's campaign, or what sense we were able to make of it through our still forthcoming film, but as we wrapped for the evening, I couldn't help but think to myself that I might just have the best job in the world. The next night, I'd be sure.

You've undoubtedly heard by now that The Who played the Rock Band party. It was a surprise to some, but word had been leaking steadily for about a week before we filed in, and I was expecting it. I made sure everyone in our crew had a ticket. I was certain it'd be a show to remember, whether you were a fan of The Who or not. I wasn't wrong.

I had plenty of occasions to regret taking the trip to this year's E3, but that night, as I listened to Roger Daltrey pour his heart out through his voice, and watched Pete Townsend windmill his way through the band's catalogue of hits, I realized I had at least two solid reasons to feel good about the trip: two experiences I'd never have had if I weren't involved in this glorious industry. I don't know what else there is to say about that. Thinking about it, I get lost in the awesome of it all.

I have to confess I wasn't always a fan of The Who. There was a time I found their anthemic bombast a bit too much to take seriously. It shrieked when it could have cooed, and blared when it could have flowed. But I wasn't listening hard enough. There's pain, longing and love in The Who's music, and I'm sorry I'm not the music writer I'd need to be to explain why. Tommy is an ace at pinball, a wizard among men, but he's also deaf, dumb and blind. The Who, in one of their most memorable songs, perfectly captured the stultifying emptiness of his achievements, the tragedy of conquering the art of the game, but nevertheless failing at life.

"Meet the new boss" crows Daltrey at the end of "Won't get Fooled Again." "The same as the old boss." It doesn't matter what he was talking about originally, anyone who's lived more than a couple dozen years has been there; nothing changes, no matter whose name is on the door. Power corrupts, and you don't get to the top being the boss if you're not a jackass in some way or another.

Don't you get fooled by the blistering, borderline schmaltz of The Who's music; their songs have hidden depths that speak to all ages, no matter what your generation. And Mike Wilson, sure he may act the buffoon, but the man has a point: The industry is losing touch with it's roots, and all of us are at risk of forgetting why we're here in the first place. What do Wilson and The Who have in common? They both reminded me that you can be exuberant and still have depth. That fun is not the death of meaning, but in fact the opposite. Something the ESA and the game industry would do well to remember.

Russ Pitts won't get fooled again. Oh no. His blog can be found at

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