Grainy VHS teaches powerful mental health secret

By Matt Perryman

If you never heard of vaporwave, it was this genre of music that got underground semi-popular for extremely-online people around 2015.

After Internet destroyed Big Music and turned all music into auto-tuned hip-hop, in its infinite grace it blessed us with a million new micro-genres on Youtube and Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

What made vaporwave so interesting is this weird throwback aesthetic. The music is heavy on samples from 80s synthesizer tracks, slowed down to deep pitch giving it a dream-like substance thick as winter molasses, combined with grainy, glitchy VHS-quality video and images lifted from advertisements. Lots of Japanese influence.

Vaporwave hits on nostalgia for a world that never really existed, aimed at Millennials and younger who never lived in it. That’s the internet in a sentence, if you think about it.

Look at me, acting like a competent music and art critic.

I just know what I like. What hits. My appreciation of art and music is all by intuition.

Here’s an example pulled at random:

I bet you that’s not to everyone’s tastes. I dig it for soft background sounds in the evenings when I’m winding down.

Not all of it though. Some of the stuff gets gloomy, even depressing in spots. If that happens, I’m hitting the skip button.

If music from the 80s has anything going for it, it is the mostly happy, cheerful, and upbeat energy. Ever since the grunge turn of the 90s, music has gone dark. From Radiohead getting young men to sing “I’m a creep” right on through to the self-loathing whining of Mr. Brightside, these mind-worms have the listener repeating negative self-talk to a catchy tune.

I do my level best to keep the dark out of my life. My mind is more than capable of conjuring that up on its own.

I say that, although more and more I’m questioning how much of that darkness is really mine. Am I really a negative person inside or have I so programmed myself by repeating negative thoughts to myself?

Cognitive behavioral therapy works by training patients on how to break the habit of negative talk and encourage positive self-talk instead. Even the wasteland of modern psychiatry and psychology admits there’s something to this.

Worth thinking about as you choose your consumer habits.

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Matt Perryman

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