Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let's all wear black forever

I don't normally get upset by events in the news. I'm not a very political person; I've just about figured out that we're supposed to disapprove of Margaret Thatcher (that is right, isn't it?) and am beginning to pick up similar signals about some 'Blair' character...

Add to my indifference a level of desensitisation. A child soldier stares at me/a camera, relaxed in some kind of western leisurewear, a gun slung over his shoulder, not bothered. I stare at him/the TV with matching disinterest. Vast and seemingly immovable forces hold us in our positions.

So it is marked that I've been very emotional about the slaying of Sophie Lancaster by drunken young men, apparently because of her and her boyfriend's goth-like appearance. Like many, I'm distressed by the senselessness of the murder, the innocence of the victims. Added to that, I feel a distant kinship with the goths and alternative folks - they're in my tribe, at least more so than people in high-street sport-related outfits.

Identity, it seems, can be a matter of life and death.

There are desolate voids in society where there's nothing better to do than attack the Other.

In anger, even an educated gadabout like me becomes more tribal. Right now I have opinions not dissimilar from those expressed on the Sun discussion forum (hang everyone etc.) This will pass, but beyond that there is something I fear, that I'm struggling to describe but that isn't easy to dismiss. I think it's the underside of mainstream culture, of the nexus of sport, fashion and alcohol that provides brutality and ignorance with a tone, aesthetics, and emotional fuel. I'd like to simply diabolise the whole lot; posit a malign Sport & Alcohol Industrial Complex, a style council for hate crime; say any baying mob is as bad as another, whether it's a football crowd or a BNP rally. Turn off the TV, read poetry and drink absinthe, sneer at anyone in a tracksuit on general principles... To do so would be to abandon reason and relax into comfortable prejudice, to retreat. A palliative measure, and one that would go against the spirit of Sophie's memorial campaign against 'prejudice, hate and intolerance'...

So I'll resist the virus of easy prejudice. Perhaps the answer (gulp) is to engage with politics after all...

No comments: