Pinball is the Devil and The Who are Communists

Posted: 30 November, 2011 in Rants, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

as you can guess from the title, I’m listening to “Pinball Wizard” by The Who, Tommy

So “Pinball Wizard” came on the shuffle. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I listen to music I see it in my head. Sometimes it’s sheet music, sometimes it’s the instrument being played or the singer, sometimes it’s just a series of abstract images. Most often however it’s  more like a montage of scenes, much like a music video.

So while Pinball Wizard was playing, something occurred to me about Pinball.

You Can’t Win

That’s right people. It is physically, morally, and grammatically impossible to win this ‘game’.

You can do very well. You can hold the high score, but you cannot win. It is one of the few cases where the only way to finish something is to lose.

It occurred to me when I was thinking of how to construct a mental scene of the epic game described in the song. And I couldn’t end it. At least not to my satisfaction.  There is no way the new champion can be seen in his moment of triumph without also showing his moment of defeat.

In other arcade games you can beat the game. Even if it starts you over again until you die, you can at least ‘win’. Baseball ends in a strike, but it ends with a winner and a loser, even if they have to go into extra innings (as many as needed) to do so. In bowling or darts, even alone, there is a set number of turns or a score that finishes the game. In this case you can’t lose, so it’s more like practice.In pinball you only finish by losing.

What strikes me as most odd about it is how obsessed we are with winning as a culture. We crossed the ocean, wiped out the Indians, traveled to the new coast, built the railroad and skyscrapers, went to the moon. Pinball seems to stand as the antithesis of all things American.  I supposed you could counter with the fact that The Who are British. It really doesn’t matter though as Americans inherited this trait from their Anglo ancestors, who themselves wiped out indigenous peoples and conquered the world.

Upon further research I have discovered that it was the French who invented Pinball. And we all know France’s forte has never been #winning.

Therefore I must posit that Pinball must be a communist propaganda weapon. Think for a moment.  People stuck in dead-end jobs (perhaps assigned to them by the state) face a similar plight and a system (or game) that awards you points like a pat on the back, which contain no actual material value, while simultaneously taking your coins and placing them into a larger pot to be distributed as the owner of the game (the government) sees fit.

The USSR gave out awards like that. The order of Lenin was given out to soldiers, yes, but it was also awarded to ordinary working class Joes (or Vanyas, Vasilis, whatever) for being exceptionally good colliers or steel pressers. These heroes of the motherland were not given a promotion or raise for all their hard work. No, they went back to the mines and the factories and kept shooting for that high score and the only way out was death.

What else could it be?

Perhaps it is the French philosophers who are to blame. Those fellows who came up with what we now call existentialism.  Perhaps this is designed to be a form of mimesis, echoing life’s own cruel joke. We spend our lives attempting to rack up points and gain extra balls. We juggle and flip and tilt and do everything within our power to fend off the inevitable; the final ball sinking through the flippers and coming to rest in stillness beneath the glass of the machine.

The world may never know.


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