Monday, February 12, 2007

Should all of society really be made safe for children?

So, next week I’m going to see my favorite band. One the one hand this is a wonderful thing. I love live shows, I love Dir en grey. So what am I complaining about?
There are children going to these shows. I don’t mean 17-year-olds, I mean actual children. Whose brilliant idea was it to make this tour all-ages? Because my foot has a date with their ass.
Someone is planning to take a 10 year old to the Fillmore. The fucking Fillmore. To see a metal/industrial band. Are these people out of their minds?
First there’s the issue of physical safety. There are moshpits at metal shows. There is pushing, shoving, random crowd surging…hair gets pulled, feet get trodden on, ribs get crushed against barriers, elbows meet heads. Even for adults it’s a little dangerous. And people have been waiting to see this band in the USA for ten years. According to all reports so far, these shows are fucking nuts. Most of them are sold out. Does anyone sane really think this is a safe environment for a child? Some of these kids plan to camp out that night before, too. In the middle of major metropolitan areas. Yeah, that’s really smart. I’m sure the junkies and the dealers will be delighted to make their acquaintances.
Then there’s the obscenity issue. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m actually rather a fan of obscenity in general. I have no major issues with porn other than worrying about whether some of them people involved in it did not end up there willingly. I watch horror movies. I swear like a sailor. But…
Obscene material is intended for adults. It is not family friendly. It is not meant to be seen or heard by children. Not only that, but its continuing availability for those of us who are old enough to understand and appreciate it is dependent on its being kept far, far away from kids.
Right now we have a government that would just love to make our entire society safe for 5 year olds. Do any of us really want that, other than the religious wackos? OK then, we all have a shared interest in keeping the questionable stuff away from the kiddies if we want it to continue to be available at all.
Which brings me back to Dir en grey. This band is not suitable for kids. In face, I have a hard time thinking of any band less suitable for kids. Typical songs deal with child abuse, suicide, murder, war, corruption in government and the media, BSDM…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t get much less family friendly than DEG, folks. Last year’s big single contained the immortal line “Some day I will fuck your parents”. During their opener the crowd chants “Kill! Kill! Kill!” along with the intro. And people want to take 10-year-olds to this show?
And then there are the videos. They’re playing the uncensored version of one during the show, apparently (for the song Obscure). Freaky-looking geisha in g-strings, bizarre mecha dildos, naked drummer in a bathtub full of blood, one guitarist pulling his bloody, still-beating heart out of his chest, the other guitarist stabbing himself through the throat with a samurai sword…fun for all the family, huh? Not to mention that the singer carves his chest up until he’s covered in blood and shimmies like a stripper. At the last show I kind of felt like I should tip him, given that he was essentially giving us a lap dance. His live performances make Iggy Pop look like The Telletubies.
So, I repeat...does anyone with any brains really think that kids should be allowed to attend that kind of show? Apparently Ticketmaster didn’t quite realize what they were getting into given that “this show is for mature audiences” warnings went up on the website after the first few shows. No shit, genius. A quick look at the band’s website could have made that pretty clear.
I still don’t understand why these shows weren’t made at least 16+ right from the beginning. I suspect that the motive was money, though – no age restrictions increases the number of people who can buy tickets, and the band have a lot of very young fans who came to them through seeing pictures of their early days on the internet, back when they were pretty boys in eyeliner and miniskirts. That was a long time ago, though, and they get darker and more disturbing with each album. I’m willing to bet that if most of the parents of those kids had any idea what they were in for they wouldn’t let their little precious anywhere near these shows.
And that’s another problem. Kids are turning up at these shows with their parents. Parents who then get all pissy because oh my god, there’s blood and violence and sexual content and bad language. If they had decent parenting skills they would have known that already.
Of course the fact that having scowling, disapproving parents getting in everyone’s way is a huge pain in the ass for any attendee old enough not to have a curfew is worth noting, but there’s a bigger problem. What happens when one of these parents gets upset that little precious wasn’t protected from all this nasty obscene behavior? What if they decide to sue? What will that mean for future tours? What if one of those kids actually gets hurt? The girl taking the ten year old was planning to take her into the pit. Which is nuts. Hell, I could very easily get hurt in the pit and I’m 33. What happens if that kid gets hurt? Who do you think the parents are going to blame?

Now, as I’ve already said, I’m very much fond of a lot of material that could very easily be described as dark, disturbing, and unsuitable for minors. That doesn’t mean that I think said material should be accessible to minors. It shouldn’t be. Every society maintains a barrier between children and adults, and a certain part of its culture that is forbidden to anyone under a certain age. That’s the only way to do it, really. That barrier is there for a reason, and it needs to be well guarded, because the alternative is a society scrubbed clean of all deviant art, of all deviant behavior, of anything that might upset a toddler. I don’t want to live in that kind of society, and I’m willing to bet that anyone who I have more than a passing acquaintance with doesn’t either.

So, as much as it vexes the kiddies to hear it, they don’t belong at concerts. Or at horror movies, or in clubs, or watching porn, or in any other space designed for adults. It’s not only for their own safety; it’s for the safety of everyone who doesn’t want to live in Moral Majority-land.


Zan said...

Seriously. I don't understand the thinking behind some people. I mean, I'm a pretty damned liberal person and I have no aversion to darkness. However, I also have common sense. I wouldn't take a kid to a concert like that. I wouldn't take a kid to most concerts I like. Because, hey, these are adults performing for adults. And a 10 year old in the pit? What the? Has this person ever actually been in a pit before? That poor child will get clobbered. And then she'll be all "but why didn't they watch out for her?" Uh, because they're not her parent? It's not their job?

This is something I've been thinking about with my niece, actually. I mean, some of the music I listen to, she shouldn't be hearing just yet. Not that she'd understand what it means, but I can just imagine my family's horror if she were to be sauntering around singing "Fuck police brutality" or something. She's a little mimic at this point and frankly, there's something to be said for keeping her world as happy as possible. Life is gonna get bad enough later. But that doesn't mean we go around banning anything that would upset her. It means we do a good job parenting her. How hard is that to understand?

belledame222 said...

Eh, I just figure that a good 80% of the time, the people who're all "but think of the chilllldrennnnn" are really talking about y'know -themselves.-

but they hide behind the (abstract) kids, and their supposed concern for them.

because, hey, it's a lot harder to defend yourself if you're "hurting the children" (hey, who wants to hurt children? who even wants to have to be -accused- of hurting children, or being callous to their needs?) than if it's just some adult bluenose yutzes who want to shut or water you down because it makes -them- uncomfortable.

Cassandra Says said...

Zan - I still think that the reasoning behind letting the kiddies in was a combination of greed on behalf of the band's management (people who've met the band after the shows have commented that they themselves seemed a little confused to see the younger kids there), and ignorance on behalf of the promoters/bookers. I figure the business types were thinking Japan = cute fluffy sparkly Puffy AmiYumi! They probably had no idea that what they were going to get was Ministry meets Metallica meets vintage Alice Cooper. But, you know, with more sex and more blood.
I'm still horrified by the 10 year old at the Fillmore, because I'm going to be at that show and now I'll be looking around playing concerned parent myself and dammit, I shouldn't have to do that. And the security aren't paid to be babysitters, and if she gets hurt people could get sued, and it all could have been prevented if both kid and parents had any common sense.
Yeah, I have a 13 year old nephew and a almost 3 year old niece and there's no way I'm exposing them to some of the stuff I'm into yet. The boy's into anime, so the SO and I do buy him anime-related stuff, BUT I'm not buying him hentai any time soon. Even though I personally kind of like some hentai - not when he's 13.
It all does come down to smart parenting in the end, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening and I really don't want to see anyone adult's freedom curtailed because kids were allowed to be someplace they shouldn't have been in the first place.
PS The ten your old is apparently being taken by her 15 or 16 year old cousin, so no surprises that she doesn't see the problem...attempts to talk some sense in to her have failed utterly.

Cassandra Says said...

Belledame - true, but honestly my rant was more inspired by and aimed at the kids themselves. I've seen all kinds of stupid shit from kids who have actually gone to these shows and then been all "OMG it was so loud and so crowded and people were pushing me and everyone is so mean! And Kyo (singer) got his blood on me and ew!" even though concerts are always noisy and crowded, they wouldn't have been pushed around if they had stayed out of the pit like everyone warned them to, and Kyo cuts himself up at every show. So, the whining is annoying me, and I don't want some concerned parent filing a lawsuit as a result of it.
The other thing is that I know for a fact that many of these kids really aren't ready to deal with this kind of material in a mental/emotional sense. There's this one song that's about rape and I've actually seen little girls write stuff like "OMG I want Kyo to rape me!", which is a little disturbing, no? Apparently the whole rape is a bad thing message went right over their heads. In fact, the song they're talking about is actually all about how young girls are overly sexualised in Japan and how it leads to child abuse. Which message was apparently completely lost on the kiddies, which is why I'm saying that they're not equipped to deal with this kind of material. Normally I'm not a fan of the "warping innocent minds" school of thought, but some things really are beyond the mental processing capabilities of children, and some of them really are misinterpreting things in quite worrying ways.
And then there's the fact that having little kiddies plus parents at shows is a huge downer for everyone else.

FoolishOwl said...

I've been spending a lot of time in an online roleplaying game. One of the basic premises of the setting is a conflict between a racial supremacist feudal theocratic empire that practices slavery, and an adjoining interstellar state founded by former slaves who successfully rebelled. There are players on both sides.

You could imagine this as a straightforward, and rather trite and boring, good-versus-evil conflict, but it's richer than that, because the designers of the game and the roleplayers make serious efforts to roleplay fully developed personalities with ideologies to justify their actions.

This depends on a considerable amount of maturity. Players have to be able to negotiate how their characters interact, and have to understand the difference between what a player's character believes and what the player actually believes.

I shudder to think of how easily a child could misinterpret much of what goes on in roleplaying. Fortunately, children are (most likely) put off by the complexity of the game mechanics, long before they'd encounter the complexity of the roleplaying.