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What Costs What

Updated: Jun 23, 2022




Last night, on New Years Eve, my family and I watched a fun film from 2016 called “Sing Street.” It’s a coming of age tale about a young man growing up in Dublin in the early 80’s right as music videos are taking bands and television by storm. Duran Duran, U2, Spandau Ballet were all part of a movement that took over the US and also the UK. Our hero Conor is in love with a beautiful girl who models and he decides to enlist her in a music video-only first he has to start a band (learn music, write songs, get instrument). He also is in a family that is troubled, angry, and breaking up.


Young love (and family trauma) provides a huge force of inspiration.


But what I noticed, other than how adorable the story was and how spot on the original songs the newly formed band “Sing Street” created, was the absence of computer and phones. Like, no where. Obviously. It was 1984 or thereabouts. The kids have electric guitars, bass, and a Korg keyboard, but they film with this big old video camera and they record ONTO CASSETTE TAPES.


I remember ventures like this.


They spend time talking, creating, building, writing, recording, visioning videos. They put up hand drawn recruitment signs and spread the word about the band by just talking to each other in school.


I am crafting this piece on a laptop. I love my laptop. I will share it on an internet browser through Medium and other social. I’ll probably respond to any comments (if there are any) on my iPhone. I have a memory of the days of cassette tapes, clunky old cameras, paper journals, putting up hand drawn recruitment posters, and sharing notes on paper (all now have an equivalent in the virtual world).


I’m not trying to say one is better than the other, but one scene strikes me as really powerful. The kids have filmed and are on their way home on a train. All are sitting looking at each other and talking and still thinking of song ideas. If this was filmed today, I wonder if we’d see all of them on phones, looking down, and not connected.


The irony is that creative folks can use technical tools at speed these days! You can create and record music online and podcasts in your house and get them on platforms, you can write as I am doing and plop the words in a lot of places. We have the ability to create and launch SO much content and the ability to find and consume it as well.


I sometimes wonder though what costs what. My children were born into the digital era. They don’t have the paper/offline versions of creating to remember. Some of the issue is inspiration and desire to create instead of consuming, I suppose. There are folks out there creating non-stop, and there are then people creating content about watching content and critiquing content.


It’s just different I guess, and perhaps there is no cost at all. This piece is just a pondering about media and communication and how we create it and how we consume it. I did enjoy watching the kids all look at each other with presence I rarely see today. I myself am tied to my phone and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing at all.


I’d be interested in your thoughts if you’d like to share them.


photo credit Sing Street PR

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