I came to this bombshell of a conclusion the other day when I stumbled upon a video posted on Facebook by an old friend. It was a segment of “Donahue” (what a damn terrible show that was) from 1995 that talked about the horrifying dangers of the new trend of slam-dancing. One whole child DIED when he (shockingly) fell down. I mean, he FELL, you guys. There are absolutely NO other circumstances, Phil Donahue seemed to suggest, under which a 17-year old could fall and die. THESE MOSH PITS MUST BE STOPPED!
Enter Marilyn Manson and two other yahoos from his band that I probably could once identify, but now at my age just look like assholes. Mr. Manson, as he agreed Donahue could call him, suggested that indeed, throwing one’s body into a crowd of hyped up concert-goers could be dangerous, but that it was the danger that made it appealing. It’s a thrill of a different sort — fueled by adrenaline, hard music, camaraderie, and maybe just a teensy bit of weed.
As a 37-year old adult, I kinda wanted to punch that Twiggy fucktwit next to Manson who only “spoke” via a tiny Walkman with some weird recording on it that he occasionally held up to his stage mic. As a kid who was 18 in 1995 when this moshing phenomena was rolling along (and who MAY have partaken in a pit or two herself) I thought that this whole thing was just goddamn ridiculous. Take your fear-mongering elsewhere, 20-years-ago-Donahue, you look like a douchebag right now.
But here’s the thing: all of the adults in the audience were shocked — SHOCKED, I SAY! — that kids would call this abomination of God’s earth “dancing.” They were about 30 seconds away from getting the town pastor to abolish all dancing altogether (except for one brave kids who would save the day after a long routine of gymnasti-boogie in a warehouse, I assume).
Indeed. And that’s the thing, right? Since pretty much, like, forever (or at least since my parents were born, which was sooooooooooooo long ago — Hi, Mom! Love you!), the goal of youth culture is to fuck the establishment, right? Nirvana throwing their guitars in the air, NWA even having the name “NWA,” Madonna dry-humping a stage, Pink Floyd shaving eyebrows (and nipples, do I remember? I try to block it out. I was traumatized by “The Wall”), Ozzy eating bats, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” “NOT” being about hallucinogenics, Elvis’ hips, and so on — it was all just so youth culture could separate itself as much as possible from the established adult “normalcy.”
In the aforementioned video clip, Donahue mentioned, as he looked at the shirt-and-tie-clad father of the young man who had died in a mosh accident and the leather-clad Marilyn Manson seated next to him, that never before had there been such a sharp contrast between generations.
I disagree. If you put a guy in slacks and JC Penney neckwear next to, say, Flavor Flav, Robert Smith, Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious, or any of the members of KISS, you might notice that there are some differences.
And, I, of course, am a mom and a high school teacher. I roll my eyes when my students say they like Miley Cyrus or Lil Wayne because, you know, I don’t personally love overexposed brats or misogyny, but their goal is likely the same as was the goal of Henry Rollins, Tupac or Rage Against the Machine.
Only, now I am the establishment they’re trying to fuck.