Three articles have appeared in the Irish Times since Monday concerning the recent performance of Swedish House Mafia – central to Jim Carroll’s piece in last Friday’s Ticket magazine – in Dublin’s Phoenix Park and the associated violence and examples of social decrepitude found there. Much has been said on the matter already but these three articles are interesting in that they (to some extent) take three different views of the events.
First is Jim again, with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Seeing the similarities between Saturday night and Oxegen is important. Many people who attended SHM would have gone to Oxegen if it had been on this year, and most would have behaved in a similar manner, good or bad. It is obviously only a tiny minority become involved in the violence and aggression seen in the park on Saturday and it is the wide-spread drunken oblivion which is the greater problem, as Jim points out. Focusing on this single event is a mistake.
Una Mullally’s ”We’re Missing The Point?” article is a good example of the wider social thinking we need to do to really make an impact. Young people are pissed off, even if they don’t always know exactly why. Possibly more than ever, it is difficult to see a way out of bad situations and that frustration is going to manifest itself somewhere. Combined with the ever-lower prices of alcohol and increasing exposure to the adult world at younger ages, this makes for a very volatile youth culture, especially in lower incomes areas where opportunities are ever more limited.
However, blaming things on a generation is entirely the same as blaming things on a genre of music; two barely definable constructs based almost totally on perspective. 17-25 year old people can be just as responsible as those in their thirties, forties or fifties. Many are not, but that’s the way it’s always been. Immaturity is not a sin, you just have to grow through it. How long that process takes is as personal as the amount of money you need to spend to get hammered.
As Una points out, the drink-driving campaign is an example of a society and a government working together positively to stamp out something that is dangerous and often deadly. Once it’s totally unacceptable to behave in a certain way, when social reputations are genuinely on the line, we might begin to see a change in attitudes. Work from the ground up, not the top down.
Finally, Brian Boyd’s piece, “Dance Scene’s Lethal Mix – Drink, Drugs and Ignorance.” It’s hard to know where to start with this, such is the ignorance on display. How can someone with zero knowledge about the “dance scene” make such derogatory comments about such a large and multifaceted concept?
“‘Underground dance music’ is the fastest-growing genre in the industry”, he says. I would love to know what exactly is underground about 45,000 people in a field who paid a lot of money to see some of the biggest acts in the world today. The performers Mr. Boyd mentions all sell out stadium-sized arenas across the globe and it all has very little to do with dance music culture, underground or not. To blame anti-social behaviour on a type of music is one thing, a wrong thing, but to do so without any knowledge of the music itself is plain ignorant. Of course, it’s all to do with “today’s generation”.
Mr. Boyd assumes some massive difference in how people consumed their drugs of choice 20 years ago and how they do now without quoting any evidence to the fact. People are still just as “blissed out” on pills or MDMA now as they were during the height of the Madchester years. If anything, it could be the wider proliferation of cocaine that is the main problem on the drug front, it being a drug far more likely to breed aggression, especially when combined with alcohol. Either way, it all has very little to do with the music and its fans which he seems so keen on talking down to. It also probably has very little to do with the incidents of violence on Saturday night.
And you know, reading the article is “blah, blah, boring for a 21-year-old heading off to a dance show”. Unfortunately, the article is not just boring, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because it is filled with elitism, condescension and ignorance and it is being printed in a national newspaper. Thankfully, the comments below the article online show that no one is believing what they’re reading.
Liveline yesterday afternoon was largely similar in tone to what was discussed above, with various callers blaming it all on the alcohol, blaming it on the drugs, blaming it on the youth, blaming it on the music, blaming it on the promoters, blaming it on the “scumbags”, blaming it on the police, etc. Blaming it on anyone but themselves basically.
Meanwhile, we continue to glorify alcohol and to mystify drugs, keeping the realities of both hidden behind some grossly hypocritical moral grandstanding. Until we can openly discuss and educate people about the effects of drugs, including alcohol, the carnage will continue. Whether that’s young (and not so young) professionals acting the twat in a field down the country or kids falling over themselves outside the clubs on Harcourt Street, it makes no difference. We will never be able to police drug taking on an individual level, nor should we. It has to come down to personal awareness and responsibility, and that can only come from grass roots education.
From Dalkey to Darndale, misinformation, ignorance, frustration and over-indulgence are problems that are not going to go away once blame is self-satisfyingly apportioned. As Emma Quinlan said on Liveline, there’s a rough element to us. We will have to confront that harsh truth before anything changes..