terça-feira, 23 de outubro de 2012
Heads for Saturn: Anatomy of the Digital Melancholic
Yet the label of Nintendo Child is not limited to the video game enthusiast. Any child raised in the cable TV, music video, channel-flicking environment must be classified as part of the Nintendo Generation. In order to change channels, the pre-digital child had to get up from the sofa and turn the analog dial to any one of a sparse selection of local networks. The digital child, on the other hand, remains almost completely motionless before the screen, negotiating a dizzying landscape of visual images with the flick of a thumb or forefinger. In short, the remote-control-wielding channel-surfer is very much akin to the joystick-handling video game jockey--both seek solace before an interactive screen, enraptured by the flow of images which they (at least in part) control, while all the time vacillating endlessly between boredom and ecstasy.
Ironically, just as the Nintendo generation seems to be reaching its cultural apex, Nintendo Inc. has ceased to be the grand facilitator of digital melancholia. The new God of video gaming is Sega, and the most powerful opiate for the digital masses is now the Sega Saturn system. In effect, the word Saturn encapsulates the very dichotomy that video game entertainment represents for the young digirati. In Ancient Greece, Saturn was identified with unrestrained merrymaking, orgy, ecstasy. Yet during the Renaissance, the word Saturnine began to be associated with sloth, melancholy and boredom -- Saturn was used as the alchemical term for lead. It is appropriate then, that Sega Saturn is a device which encourages and facilitates the Nintendo Child's endless vacillation between boredom and ecstasy, between sloth and hyperactivity, between melancholy and merry-making.
Saturn permits the digital youth to escape the boredom and melancholy of real life through a powerful dosage of hypers(t)imulated reality--a surreality then, which like a drug-induced psychosis, can only be described in terms of extraplanetary exploration. "Head for Saturn," the advertisers suggest. "Sega Saturn is like nothing else on earth." And yet, this promise of ecstasy is juxtaposed with a visual non-sequitur: the bust of a young, melancholic girl with a shaven head, wearing the rings of Saturn like a cyber-punk crown of thorns. Evidently, this youngster has a head for Saturn.
It would seem then, that the ultimate escape from this melancholic planet would not be to head for Saturn, or to possess a "head for Saturn," but to be gifted with an actual "head of Saturn"--a cybernetic head, half human, half electronic entertainment system. As the advertisements suggest,
to really understand what life is like on Saturn, look inside your head. There, in the inner realm of rods and cones, of optic nerves and ear drums, is where the Sega Saturn experience breathes. Three 32-bit orchestrated processors, 16.7 million colors, lightning-quick texture mapping, connoisseur-class surround sound, and amazing first-person perspectives immerse you in worlds of entertainment you've never experienced.
This is not just a "head for Saturn," but a "head of Saturn".
*First Appeared in Dodo Magazine, July, 1995.