One thing he said really stuck with me. It was while Hendrix was just setting out to make a name for himself during a tumultuous time in America's social upheaval during the 60s:
"I went to Nashville, where I lived in a big housing estate they were building. Every Sunday afternoon we used to go downtown to watch the race riots. We'd take a picnic basket because they wouldn't serve us in the restaurants. One group would stand on one side of the street, and the rest on the other side. They'd shout names and talk about each other's mothers and . . . every once in a while stab each other. Sometimes if there was a good movie on that Sunday, there wouldn't be any race riots."
Wow, that really resonated with me. It just goes to show how silly all this hate and fear mongering really is, that it can be so easily set aside the minute some cool new flick is out in theaters. It also serves to illustrate how dangerous idle imaginations can be. I know I'm egregiously oversimplifying things here when I say this, but I truly do believe in entertainment--be it books, music, movies, or video games--as a venue for relieving stress, anger, fear, and all the other pent-up energies that threaten to undo society when not allowed a safe and harmless release.
But it also got me to thinking about such moderations on society, and how this benefits the government and/or religious leaders who use entertainment programming to keep the unruly mob in check. And, yes, Sunday sermons and church pontificating is the oldest and most effective form of entertainment there is out there. What, you don't believe me?
Naturally, such thoughts then led me to an interesting premise for a sci-fi story. Although, my work would be cut out for me if I chose to pursue this route, what with the Matrix trilogy and various other sci-fi stories already beating me to the punch with this idea of a complacent mass media-consuming society kept under wraps by its manipulative overlords.
Still, that's one of the great things about speculative fiction writers: we're not always inventing new ideas, but sometimes re-inventing and re-interpreting old ones.