The Black Eyed Peas Experience: A Cautionary Tale

Remember that scene from The Shawshank Redemption where Brooks, the old librarian, is finally freed?  He’d been in prison for so long that he’d become institutionalized, so when he saw the world again, he no longer recognized it.  It moved too fast and he couldn’t understand it anymore.  He was like a time traveler.  The stress of being in a foreign land was too much for him; a case of Paris syndrome tenfold.  So he did what anyone might be tempted to do in his situation; as an old, useless ex-con in a world where all he was good for was bagging groceries, he slipped on an ole fashioned necktie and tested Newton’s theory.

Still works.

Since I’ve seen that movie, I constantly think about two things.  One, that being called a fish is not a compliment.  And secondly, and in my opinion more importantly, I always wonder what someone just getting out of prison or a coma would think about the world today.  It is an interesting concept, and I think technology would be one of the biggest surprises they face.  In fact, Randall Lee Church,  a man who had been locked up since 1983, described the world around him upon release as alien and terrifying.  He was so confused by it all that he burned down an abandoned house just to escape it and go back to prison.  See, Mr. Church has been in my thoughts a lot lately; I feel bad for the guy.  And while pining over the plight of this recidivist, I saw a commercial the other day.  It was for a new video game, one called The Black Eyed Peas Experience.  And I believed I understood what went wrong with this gentle orange-clad time traveler.  First, take a look at the presumably harmless commercial:

See, I’m afraid this commercial might be misleading.  Let’s take our hero Randall Church.  The news articles fail to mention exactly how he spent his time on the outside, but I’m willing to make a wager that it wasn’t the iPad, Prius, or black Presidents out there that got him so confused and frightened.  I think it’s fair to assume that things were going fairly well for the guy for a few days.  He got to taste beer again, he got to taste vodka again, he even got to taste dehydrated and cigarette-fouled morning breath again.    But one day, for just a brief minute or so, he caught a glimpse of this commercial for a video game.  In his day, video games were Tetris and Pac Man.  But now, now he saw this and was like

What. The. Fuck.

These kids, one from every creed and color, ride their bikes downtown, stereos in tow.  They are rebels and they just don’t care.  They hook up their car batteries and streetlights to some weird looking Nintendo and a computer tower and gather in the public square.  Is it going to be a riot, a violent demonstration against the system that had taken so many years of his life away?  No, these kids were full of courage and self confidence, and more were gathering before this enormous television that stood before them.  I imagine he was on the edge of his seat in anticipation as a few guys in the commercial step to the forefront and the music begins.  The crowd begins dancing.  Red, yellow, black and white, they were all dancing in his sight.  The game had turned this crowd of misguided and angst-ridden youths into a positive crowd of self expression.  They almost looked like they were having the time of their lives, and they had never felt this way before.  It was incredible.  Technology had given man a way to rejoice, to find happiness and self fulfilment.  He no longer needed a needle in his arm or the heroin in his veins.  Instead, he set off for the local Wal*Mart.  He had a game to buy.  This would be something to turn his life around.  He would join them in the square, he would dance, and he would no logner be judged.

Life finally made sense to him, if only for a moment.

So our hero drove down to Wal*Mart and stepped through the doors.  Women shielded their children as this menacing wall of tattoos strolled through the doors, his thousand-yard stare still affixed to his face.  Employees kept a keen eye on him, for they knew his type.  They watched as he moved past the aisles, growing more surprised as he moved with determination towards electronics, not stopping to shoplift once.  When he reached the back the elderly woman behind the counter pretended not to notice him, but he was persistent.  He said he needed a video game.  “A grand theft autos, I’m sure” she mutters sarcastically, but he corrects her.  He has hope in his eyes.  “No.  I need the Black Eyed Peas Experience please.  For the Wii.”  She rang him up and wondered if the game was used to make meth.  It wasn’t.

"I know his type. Trust me, I do modeling on the side."

When he got home he opened the game to discover they had sold him the wrong thing.  The cartridge was missing, and in its place was a disc.  A compact disc.  He was livid.  He called the only guy he knew on the outside, and old friend he had met in prison years ago.  “Yeah, no, they come on CDs now.  Look, trust me, I’ve  got a Wii and everything.  Got some weed too.  Come on over,” said the friend, and so he hopped in the car and drove to his friend’s house.  His anger had subsided and he took a deep breath.  Remember Randall, he thought to himself, things are going to be different now.  We’re going to start an epic party.  No, not a party.  A celebration.  People from all over will see what we’re getting into, they’ll join us in dancing.  I’ll get a chance to be seen by everyone and they’ll all be cheering.  He smiled and lit a cigarette as he pulled into his friend’s driveway.  This was it.  He walked in the door.

"Dude, glad you're here. I'm just now getting it set up."

And so our hero Randall stared in stunned silence for what felt like hours.  The game slipped out of his hand and clattered to the floor, but he was too numb to realize it.  It had all been a lie.  Life was no different now.  Like a man waking up from a dream, reality began rushing over him.  The game would only have a handful of songs, all by the same fucking band.  A band he had never heard of.  The friends he was promised?  A lie.  The celebration?  And insult.  His eyes watered, but not with sadness or even rage.  His body was overcome with regret.  His mind was overcome with madness.  He couldn’t breathe.  He thought back to those foolish dreams he had once held; that he would dance in the streets.  He knew now he would only be dancing in a living room with smoldering cigarettes clouding the house, the stench of cat urine permeating his clothing.  He had been a damn fool.  He looked up at his friend and sighed softly.  He pulled out his lighter.

He asked his friend to leave, and the rest was history.  “96 days after his release, he poured gasoline through a window of the empty house on the Southeast Side, then threw in flaming rags and paper towels, setting the place on fire.  Days later, he told police he did it because he wanted to go back to his job at the former prison unit.”  His job?  Not playing the Black Eyed Peas Experience.  He did it every day for 28 years and knew nothing else.

Be careful out there friends.  Some games just suck.


5 Comments to “The Black Eyed Peas Experience: A Cautionary Tale”

  1. LOL,m Great post. I think the “old media” is to blame we need to get our slice of the pie. “We want money for the songs you use.”

    old media does not want to share the pie. Netflix scare the shit out of them. Can’t wait until new media is king.

  2. hahaha I shared this to my Facebook wall. I can’t imagine how terrible that game would be. I mean, I loved Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, even Dance Central… but I ALREADY hate the Black Eyed Peas two most recent albums and they did horribly at the superbowl, so I don’t have much regard for them at all… Their songs actually disappoint me now. haha I can relate to this guy… If the only way I could escape from the Black Eyed Peas was to burn a house down and go back to prison, I honestly would. Luckily, I can just turn off the radio and not search for them on Pandora 🙂

    • Lol I mean honestly, I think the game looks terrible but then again I have other games to compare it with. But I still think a person just out of prison would find this game terrible too. A game with only one band’s songs on it, and not even a good band? Hahaha no thanks.

  3. New Media is this blog, other blogs like mine, podcast, Youtube channels, and other stuff.

    I do fear the take over of “new new media” LOL

    I am a fan of the black eyed peas, I thought they did good at the super bowl. but limited to one band, not at all cool.

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