What is it about certain cultural zones that bring out entitled rudeness in people? How does that happen?
For example: in writing about “queer poor aesthetics” yesterday, a cute millennial queer wormhole opened up to rebuke a share. There was something so entitled about the reaction, no element of tact or understanding: just demanding. Just “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND: LISTEN TO US!!!!” Of course this came from a place of listening. It was a moment where you realize that your own people can be…morons, that sometimes you can’t see yourself through yourself.
This isn’t new, though. The same smart cultural zones that you think are safe let you down, revealing ugly pettiness regardless of context. You’d think a place like, um, a Kraftwerk concert would be safe since it attracts music nerds and dance music enthusiasts to appreciate the first mainstream electronic act. A show like Kraftwerk’s should be a haven for open fun, for people to come together to celebrate the music of robots and the future.
Somehow, that doesn’t happen. Kraftwerk shows bring together a band of public policers to…a concert, a place for people to let loose and have fun. This notion of Kraftwerk concerts being policed started trending last week when Beyoncé’s sister Solange lamented how she was harassed at a Kraftwerk show.
Imagine, although the kids are interested, they are still 11, unfamiliar, and would rather be spending their Friday night differently. You and your husband are always talking to your son about expansion and being open to other things and experiences, so you guys make the Kraftwerk concert a family Friday night.
You get there about 10 minutes late, but lucky for you, as soon as you walk to your box seats, the song that you just played for your son in the car is on! It’s a song his uncle sampled, ” The Hall of Mirrors.” You haven’t even sat down yet because you just walked to your seat and you’re so excited to dance to this DANCE MUSIC SONG.
You are too into the groove and let your husband handle it and tell the attendant that the children are 11 years old, and it’s actually the two grown white men in front of you guys who were smoking them.
You are annoyed and feel it’s extremely problematic that someone would challenge their innocence, but determined to stay positive and your husband has handled this accordingly.
About 20 seconds later, you hear women yell aggressively, “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now” from the box behind you. You want to be considerate, however, they were not at all considerate with their tone, their choice of words, or the fact that you just walked in and seem to be enjoying yourself.
You feel something heavy hit you on the back of your shoulder, but consider that you are imagining things because well….certainly a stranger would not have the audacity.
Moments later, you feel something again, this time smaller, less heavy, and your son and his friend tell you those ladies just hit you with a lime.
Yes, that happened. It’s insane and frustrating and the kind of scenario where you wonder if people have lost their damn minds. It’s not unique to just that Kraftwerk show though as Sunday in LA brought a less-gross-but-still-gross situation at a Kraftwerk show.
Bobby and I arrived at the show as the band was starting after some ticketing issues (Ticketmaster stupidly doesn’t let you show the “print at home” tickets on your phone, forcing you to waste paper when you arrive at the venue.) and sat down behind what seemed like normal people. The scene of the show was abnormally quiet: everyone was sitting and staring at the band as sterile yet fun electronics played. It was a hoot! But everyone stared forward as if mechanical themselves. There was no screaming or clapping or dancing: it was a bunch of people staring.
We settled in with some wine and snacks to enjoy the show in a venue where this is the norm. At a certain point, I turn to Bobby to relay a funny anecdote that shouldn’t affect anyone because we’re at an outdoor concert. “This is so funny,” I projected directly at his ear. “This is what I listened to in high school.” It was a silly realization, as I recalled wandering through Borders to scour out this German music I had read about on the Internet.
After that quick chatter, roughly fifteen words, the man in front of me and his female counterpart in his 3D glasses turn around. He makes a request: “Can you please be quiet? We’re trying to watch the show.”
Cool. First, this is a concert. Second, we are outdoors. Third, I wasn’t speaking that loud nor was I even near your audial periphery. Chill. The request inspired shock and talk about the audacity. Sure, yes, we’ll be quieter—but the fuck? It’s a Sunday night at a hot late Summer night electronic music show: this is not a church.
After an annoyed forty minutes, I watched more of the man’s head in front of me than the actual show, playing my enjoyment against his. People all around us were chattering but no one was being policed. After an interlude of “We Are The Robots,” with the band returning to relieve actual robots of their performative tasks, it happened again: the man turned around to request we be quiet. This time we our response was less kind.
“You are aware you’re at a concert, don’t you?” we asked. After a mild back-and-forth, mostly to say, “Suck it up.” He turned around in a huff, shaking his head at his girlfriend, assumedly remarking that we were gay terrorists. While the show was fun, the charm was lost. This interaction paired with the monotony of the show inspired us to pack up and leave, calling to the guy that he’d enjoy the show more as we exited.
So what happens with places like Kraftwerk shows? What happens in places online too steeped in intellectual chatter? Are these entitled reactions to other people, these forwardly rude requests, part and parcel of smart talk? Of participating in the creative? Does elevating in culture bring chips—currency of obnoxiousness—to rest on our shoulders? Who are these people who would demand and police other people in such tacky ways? Have I or you or your friend been that rude ass smart ass?
The sentiment is understandable—provide credit, quiet down—but both come from a strange, dramatic police force. Both could have gotten across the same idea by leveling in a different way—but neither the online kids nor Kraftwerk guy did. Perhaps both situations really are examples of millennial demands or millennial guilt. Or maybe this really is the era of watchdog culture, where you can’t amplify anything without dissection. What a sad state that will be.