Rock & Roll is dead and this proves it

The unthinkable has happened.

The New York Times reported this weekend that a Rock and Roll theme park has recently opened in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The 55-acre park, designed “in about two hours at a Kinko’s in Hollywood, California,” boasts a “Pinball Wizard” arcade, an “Alice’s Restaurant” Restaurant, a Magic Mushroom Garden (featuring “a charming toddler play area made up of soft-sculpture, climbable clusters of mushrooms” according to the Park’s official website) and yes, Led Zeppelin: the Ride.

This is not a joke.  Read the article for yourselves.

The photo at the head of the article, reproduced above, is the entrance to Rock & Roll Heaven-Land, which apparently pays tribute to fallen Rock greats.  The idea that a “Rock & Roll Heaven” exists implies that Rock is dead.  If it was alive before, this theme park has beaten it to death with blunt instruments.

Theme parks have long been the stereotypical Lamest Places on Earth.  Clean, controlled environments where everything is planned and nothing is authentic, (except maybe the price-gouging.  Hard Rock Park charges $50 a pop for admission) and Hard Rock Park sounds like no exception.  I could easily turn this into a missive about the sociology of theme parks, but I will refrain.  I’ll stick to how this is a disgusting misuse of art.

Theme parks are primarily for families.  I’m all for getting young kids interested in Rock music, but I don’t think a sanitized, manufactured simulacrum of the Rock music experience is the way to do it.  I wonder if they have an “Altamont Experience” ride (Caution:  Riders will get stabbed), or if they sell Trout Mask Replicas in the gift shop.  My guess is they do not.  The Times article compares this park to television soundtracks and video games like Guitar Hero, arguing that all are just ways for artists to get their music heard.  A theme park is not the same as a video game or a film soundtrack.  In Guitar Hero, success depends on how well one is able to interact with the music.  True, it is not as good as playing a real guitar, and it may give some the illusion of talent they don’t really have, but still it is better than a theme park.  Television and film soundtracks use music to convey different emotions, making music an indispensible part of these media.   If I had written a song, and someone came to me and said “I represent x TV show, and there’s a scene in an upcoming episode where someone dies, and we would like to put your song in the background during this scene because we think it conveys the right emotion in this death scene” I would take it as a great compliment and would more than likely let them use my song.  But I find it difficult to make the connection between authentic emotion or authentic experience in a theme park.

The justification that this theme park is just another form of exposure for a band begs the question:  do huge bands like Led Zeppelin really need the exposure given to them by a roller coaster?  Does Aerosmith need the exposure given to it by having its own edition of Guitar Hero?  The bands who end up having their own roller coasters are already immensely popular and really do not need the exposure given to them by a Hard Rock Park.  The more obscure artists that could use more exposure will never have their own roller coaster.  A Rock theme park will not bring obscure artists into the fore; it will only give already huge bands even more exposure.  Kids will have plenty of opportunities in their lives to discover Led Zeppelin; they most definitely do not need a roller coaster to do so.  The bands that could use the exposure will get it via word of mouth and mp3 blogs such as this one.  The internet is as much a revolution for music as it is for just about everything else.  Theme parks are a revolution for nothing.

From the article:

“Hard Rock Park is the brainchild of Jon Binkowski, 49, a veteran theme-park executive, and Steven Goodwin, 40, who developed the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Neither man is the kind of rock obsessive who trades obscure 45s or reads back issues of Crawdaddy; they seem to appreciate Led Zeppelin for its music just as much for the fact that the band is represented by one lawyer, making for easier negotiations.

Eight years ago, Mr. Binkowski bought a struggling theater here that had once been home to Snoopy on Ice, with the idea of turning the land into a children’s amusement park. When Mr. Goodwin came aboard to find investors, the project grew more ambitious, and a rock ’n’ roll theme was chosen partly for expediency, when Hard Rock International agreed to license its name.”

Great.  So the founders bought some dump in Crap Hole, USA hoping to turn it into a theme park.  They shopped around for a famous name to slap onto it, and Hard Rock International agreed.  So it became a music theme park.  What a great story!

Seriously, read the article.  The whole thing just reeks of profiteering and opportunism.

Only in America, friends.

Check out this awesome Hard Rock Park Blog!

The park map is here, in all its lameness.

Posted by Adam

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6 Comments

Filed under 1970s, Americana, Comedy, Links, Messages, Rock

6 responses to “Rock & Roll is dead and this proves it

  1. Wow. Did you see the guitar in the stone? “He who yanketh the guitar from the stone rightfully rocks.”

    There’s a three-volume sociological treatise just waiting to be written about this place.

  2. The NYT article reads like a joke. And the blog, my god:

    “Courtesy Horry County Sheriffs Office/J. Reuben Long Detention Center

    July 2, 2008 – Horry County Police arrested Sydney E. Decker, 35, a fugitive from Pennsylvania, at Hard Rock Park. Information was recieved by the police department from an anonymous tip and they arrested him in the park that day.

    Decker, a Myrtle Beach resident, was in jail in PA for criminal trespassing and breaking into a structure in PA. He has been charged with escape and was taken to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center to await an extradition hearing.

    Wow – even fugitives can’t resist a stop at our Hard Rock Park! Coming all the way from Pennsylvania, risking life and limb, just to want to experience Hard Rock Park! I wonder what was Decker’s favorite park about the park that he had experienced so far… before being captured that is.”

    By the way, Myrtle Beach SC is about the shittiest place in America.

  3. Also:

    Cod Piece Fish ‘n Chips.

    No joke.

  4. ohohitsmagic

    Word. Except that Guitar Hero is just as lame, if not more. “You guys watch Larry play Guitar Hero, I’m going to go start a band”

  5. I saw the post about the fugitive on the blog…whoever writes that trash must be totally in love with that place. It’s probably some kind of marketing tool written by an employee. And yeah, the whole article sounds like its something out of The Onion, but unfortunately, its not.

    re: Cod Piece Fish ‘n chips, the Times article did say that “no pun was left unused.” I guess they weren’t kidding.

  6. Jason

    You say that only well known bands are exposed here? Then explain to me how they have bands like Toxic Audio, who might I add are just starting out, performing there? Are you just trying to find something to complain about and overlooking the smaller bands that perform there? When are you all going to give the park a break? It’s the first year it’s been around. People like you all who bash the park need to just shut up, it seems to me that you all are acting like you all could do a better job at building a theme park (not an amusement park, a THEME park.)

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