Quarta-feira, 21 de Julho de 2010

Festival violence: gentleness and decency will survive these vile attacks

... por lá...

 

To see the violence that marred T in the Park and Latitude as some awful fall from innocence does the festivals a disservice

 ... por lá...

 

... in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/21/festival-gentleness-decency-survive-vile-attacks

... por lá... 

 

More than strawberries at Wimbledon, rained-off Test matches and politicians' holidays, one image is now solidly built into the British understanding of summer: as seen in just about every current commercial break, a festival crowd, joyously jumping around to anthemic indie-rock and rejoicing in the apogee of modern togetherness. Strange to think, perhaps, that the tangled roots of all this go back to events – from the original, police-free Glastonbury, through illicit acid house parties and beyond – that the straight world tended to greet with a mixture of panic and hostility. Now the promise is of family-friendliness, a visit from Prince Charles, and unending coverage on the BBC.

 ... por lá...

 

This week, then, has brought particularly unsettling news. A week after an alleged sexual assault and two attempted murders at Scotland's T in the Park, last weekend's Latitude festival saw two reported rapes and an incident in which a girl was harassed and chased by a pack of "drunken yobs". At any event, such news would be grim, but part of yesterday's massed gasp of shock was traceable to what Latitude is: a self-consciously high-end event, keen to attract a more mature kind of attendee, and a byword for cultured relaxation rather than lairy excess. Hence one of the choicest quotes from Melvyn Benn, the chief executive of Latitude's organisers, Festival Republic: "It is difficult to find any nastiness or aggression at Latitude. This is shocking."

 ... por cá...

 

It is, but a few points demand to be made. One is about the rather naive view of festivals that defines whole swaths of the summer's media coverage, much of it put together in comfy backstage compounds by people whose experience of the nitty-gritty is limited, to say the least. Breathlessly enthusiastic satellite news reports ("Dave from Wrexham – is this your first Glastonbury?") and the obligatory Saturday morning pictures of girls astride their boyfriends' shoulders do not quite convey what anyone who has spent three days out in the fields will know: that once tens of thousands of people are temporarily living cheek by jowl and many are set on joyously losing their minds, the festival experience can sometimes go awry.

... por cá... 

 

Often thanks to their chemical intake, I know plenty of people whose summer weekends have at least partly been defined by fear, disorientation, and brushes with unpleasant people who were there for something other than the vibes. At 1994's Glastonbury, for instance, I can well remember the fear spread by a shooting on the Saturday night, as well as subsequent news that someone had been slashed in the face (on the Monday, the Guardian's headline was, "Music festival peace and love marred by overdose death and gun attack"). It doesn't quite fit with what might be called the BBC3 worldview, but it's an obvious enough point: there is a certain part of the festival milieu – or, rather, the illicit economy – that will always teeter into nastiness, and worse.

 ... por cá...

 

Quite apart from that kind of incident, the news from Latitude points up something arguably even more uncomfortable. Consider again an account of that aforementioned girl's experience at the hands of those "yobs": "They had stuck their hands down her top and pinched her bum. She hid in the toilets so they wouldn't know where she was staying before coming back." There is not much organisers can do about it, but perhaps this is what occasionally happens once festival culture has become everyone's property. It'll sound hopelessly sniffy, but what the hell: back when some of the big festivals were defined by a sense of countercultural esprit de corps, many elements of the human zoo were present and correct – but you rarely encountered what might be called the stag weekend demographic.

 ... por cá...

 

Still, in response to the current festival-related headlines, no one should get too carried away. In late 1969, when an 18-year-old named Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels at the Rolling Stones' infamous outdoor concert at Altamont in northern California, the incident entered rock lore as the Death of the Hippie Dream, rather than a stupid consequence of the band's decision to contract-out "security" to pool cue-wielding thugs. Similarly, to characterise the events at T in the Park and Latitude as some awful fall from innocence would suit the over-excited terms in which such events are reported but do a disservice to the underrated revelation that burns through each year's festival season.

 ... por cá...

 

Our take on the modern outdoor ritual is coloured by understandable nostalgia for the glory days of Hawkwind and free admission, and a hyperactive culture often stops us realising which aspects of contemporary living are truly remarkable – but our festival culture definitely is. It is some token of most human beings' capacity for gentleness and decency that the season usually passes without serious incident; moreover, it's fascinating that as our everyday lives seem to find us ever more atomised and terrified of each other, so millions of people feel an ever greater need to spend weekend after weekend in each other's company. Rather than the odd ugly incident, it's that story that deserves our attention, and it should be a cause for nothing but (outdoor) celebration.

 

... com música, entrega total, amizade da boa... é mais bonito, não é???... Sherpas!!!...

 

publicado por sherpas às 19:12
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