Thursday, March 13, 2008

Video Placebos: Use As Prescribed

Since placebos have been shown to be as effective as some current anti-depressants, can perky technopop from Japan have the same effect?

(cc) HISHAM BINSUWAIFThis week is a busy one for me. I'm currently sitting in a parking lot awaiting my twelve year old to finish instructing her students at dance. As I sit here impatiently waiting to get on with my personal projects, I've been reflecting on an upcoming conference I'm attending. I've registered for the UVSC Forum for Children's Literature and submitted a manuscript for review, something that I have a great deal of apprehension about. Not for the obvious reasons like being afraid of rejection. I've already been sending that ms about for months and have started piling rejections up aplenty. No, I'm more worried about whether the reviewer's critique will be relevant or worth the $35 I paid. I discovered he wrote "Bunnies on the Go" and "Cars at Play" and other preschool books and I just wonder what he'll make of my whimsical, magical romp that doesn't teach any lessons and instead is a modern fairytale. We couldn't be more dissimilar. But I've gotten worried over nothing before. Classic AD/HD trait #13. Comes with the territory. Here's hoping we get along like two books on a shelf.

Once I get home I'll be whipping up dinner and then diving immediately into my current assignment. I've been editing video for a local Science Fiction convention's masquerade (I'll be blogging about that later this week. I've made some interesting discoveries about AD/HD and my own limitations). The next step is to author the DVDs, design the labels, then put them into production for the small handful of people who prepaid for them. I'm trying to wrap this project up so I can begin my next assignment in earnest: a complete redesign of

So what does any of this have to do with Japanese technopop? That's simple, if AD/HD thought chains can be labeled simple. The busier I get, and the more tedious the assignment, the more bored I get. If I'm bored I get distracted. That lead me one night tangentially to Perfume.

With subtitles

Perfume is a group of three nineteen year old girls from Hiroshima, Japan who banded together when they were 11-12 years old with one common dream: to be Japanese Idol Stars. That dream took them to Tokyo two years later. They spent years with independent labels before being picked up by a big label and only recently broke into the Top 40. Their journey was inspirational to me because I have a sixteen year old who aspires to be a Country music entertainer (and writes her own music, produces a podcast with me, performs at county fairs, and recently landed a gig as the lead singer for a bluegrass band). I am always seeking out inspirational stories for her of people who forged their own paths towards success.

With subtitles

The interesting thing about these videos to me was the effect they had on my mind. I have a weakness for Vocal Trance, a subset of the Techno/Trance genre. Perfume's music is a heady blend of poppy electronica with elements of video game ephemera and a heaping dollop of vocal trance. I don't care much for their earlier work, but I absolutely love their newer stuff. After watching a few of their videos, though, I noticed I felt elated - almost euphoric. Pretty girls. Vocal trance. Bizarre, silly elements. Visually stunning videos. And I'm a japanophile. That I liked their videos wasn't surprising, but what did surprise me was that I was no longer depressed.

Yes, I know some of you don't think I suffer from Depression because I manage it without medicine. However, you couldn't be more wrong. I've recently had a terrible few months. Winter hit me harder than it ever has. I've been fighting Depression off more than I usually have to. Yet here I was happy and cheerful. The videos had perked me right up.

You may recall I explored ten things that one could do to fight Depression some time ago. Number six was "Do Something Fun". Obviously, watching cute girls sing in futuristic CG landscapes to techno beats was just what the doctor ordered. This made me think, though, that perhaps medicinal placebos could be found in more forms than sugar pills.

If placebos are just as effective as anti-depressants for the majority of users, then that means to me that the power of the mind was the engine of change for most of the test subjects. Some might attribute this to positive thinking, but I believe there is something more at work. Thinking happy thoughts just won't cut it if the Depression is deep enough. You need to deluge the unhappy neural transmitters in your mind with heavy doses of endorphins. Watching Perfume videos that day produced the desired result for me. Another day it might be arguing against man-made global warming. Your endorphin booster may be something altogether different. Whatever works (Within reason, obviously. I'm not advocating criminal activities like recreational drugs, voting Republican, or speaking out against unions at your next PTA meeting). The important thing is to keep a list in your mind of activities that are known to help you feel better, then go and do a lot of them. You don't have to stay in the dumps. Depression can be thwarted, but sometimes you'll have to outthink it, or at least distract it with a goofy video.