A short anecdote from a grumpy old man. This evening as we walked around the village we came upon a couple of kids, perhaps twelve years old, chucking an opened drinks can between each other. They laughed as they showered each other with sticky mess, and we were quite glad to be on the other side of the road. Then, drink all gone, they simply dropped the can into the gutter and walked on. I didn’t shout, but those who know me know I can adopt a projecting voice, and I said “son, you’ll be wanting to pick that can up now then”. After the inevitable to and fro of ‘it’s his can’ and ‘he started it’, there was closure and the can was binned and all was again peaceful.
Forty or so minutes later, and Janet and I are coming back into the village again, passing the playing field and the £60k Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA). I know it cost £60k, I signed off the cheque… So the same two kids are now playing ball in the caged and marked out tarmac and beside them their radio is playing. It’s rap, loud and beaty, and every other word is motherfucker, or fuck that, or fuck you, or some variation on gun and death and shooting. And I wonder, how are we as a society feeling right now?
I’m not a fan of censorship, or of rules and constraints. I’m also aware that the pop music of my own generation was filled with hidden meanings circling around sex and drugs and racial stereotyping, but hey, it had a tune… But how do we address the loss of relationship between young person and community when the mainstream media is filled with self-hate and nihilism. And when those young persons, immured in and immune to antisocial song lyrics, have children of their own, will those have any idea at all of the world that was denied them?
We had to tune our transistor sets to foreign or offshore stations under bedclothes late at night. Records and entire bands were banned from mainstream radio for obscenity. Now, no-one bats an eye at lyrics that would have put us in borstal, or in line for brutal punishment, if blasted out into the community. I wonder what the next generation will be listening to… and all this from a drinks can!