What do Amnesty International, the Packers, and the “scene” have in common?

So there was this show last night. A benefit show for GHS’s local chapter of Amnesty International, the Packer game was (unfortunately) scheduled to be played at the same time. So they brought TVs in to play the game so people wouldn’t have to miss it. I understand that many people are way more passionate about football than music, but I can’t believe that there were TVs playing the game.

If you don’t know my personal philosophy concerning pro sports, I’ll outline it quickly:

1. The athletes are paid too much, plain and simple. People argue that it’s because their careers are so short because you can’t expect older people to play sports on that level. I say let them go get real jobs once their done playing sports. Many people have multiple careers throughout their lives, why not athletes? Don’t even get me started on risk. Many other people risk their lives and health more frequently in their professions and are compensated on a much less grand scale.

2. Spectators, especially those who watch on TV, are too obsessed over the outcomes of the games.

a. Do you know the statistics involving domestic abuse on game days? Look it up. It’s astounding.

b. Pay attention to conversations around you at work, at school, while shopping, etc. How often are others discussing sports? Compare that to how often they discuss important things in life like ideas, personal achievements, etc.

c. Can you say “fantasy” leagues? Ugh!

3. Sports are much more exciting to watch in person than on TV, but the best way to experience a sport is to play it. So get off your asses and play a goddamn game yourselves (you might find yourselves getting more in shape if you do it regularly).

4. If you really like to watch the game on TV because you are that boring in your own life, try a college game (or a minor league, if they have one) where the players are actually trying to play well to achieve goals.

5. Pro sports grab people’s attention so much that they forget the importance of other things and spend entirely too much time focusing on the game, the team, the league, or the players. It can ruin lives – I’ve seen it tear apart relationships and families. I would even venture to say that the phenomenon is capable of destroying nations and societies, but I guess we’ll have to see what history says about that on in the end.

So you can see that I dislike pro sports with a passion. And I’d say I make a pretty good case for that.

So, when I looked over at the TV and saw that the closed-captioning that exclaimed that “the Giants are going to the Super Bowl” I was so happy. As one of the few people opposed to pro sports on the planet, I get very frustrated that the local news turns into 4 minutes of actual news sprinkled in amongst what can only be described as one half-hour full-on Packers pep-rally orgy. Don’t people realize that the world doesn’t stop turning just because a team is playing a game? Real news continues to be made, whether or not people are watching.

I wouldn’t be so opposed to pro sports if people weren’t so obsessed about it. I wouldn’t mind watching a game for fun every once in a while, as long as I wasn’t expected to react to everything about the game and team as if my life were on the line. But that’s how people act and that’s how they want me to act. And pro sports will NEVER be that important to me. Never.

*Now that that’s out of the way, let me finish my note on Amnesty, football, and the “scene”.*

I’m going to guess that the crowd wasn’t representative of a regular crowd at a local show. (I don’t really know because I have felt for a few years that I’m too old to be present at these things for the most part.) I guess this is the case because the show was really only publicized to GHS students and the people to whom the performers promoted. Usually, from what I remember, shows were much more widely promoted than that. And audience members came from a much wider base than being either students at a particular school or a band’s most immediate contacts.

Being that the audience was probably atypical for a local show, it’s not really fair for me to judge the audience in comparison to the types of audiences that attended local shows while I was in high school, but I will anyway because I have to.

When I was in HS, we had a bunch of shows all the time and there was a very eclectic group of people that attended them, though it was not the most diverse group of kids I guess. The things that brought us together were our love passion for music and our need, due to that passion, to experience it live on a regular basis. We idolized musicians who broke the mold and took risks, musically and lyrically. We didn’t attend football games, track meets, basketball games, or pep rallies (even mandatory ones). We didn’t like being told that those things were more important than what we valued. People wearing baseball caps were rarely seen at a show. Girls in spandex (or spandex-enhanced jeans) were rarely present. Common: hooded sweatshirts, flannel, baggy jeans and t-shirts, old damaged clothing, and cheap shit we got from Goodwill or St. Vinnie’s. Common: nasty hair-dye jobs, cigarettes, contraband, dinginess. Not common: prettily manicured fingernails, perfectly made-up faces, shoes other than the dirty kind with laces. It’s much more like a fashion show now. We never cared how we looked. And to us looking good meant something other than what was present on magazine pages or on screen (TV or movie). We liked comfort and no fuss. It seems like comfort is out the window and fuss is all the rage now.

Anyway, at the show, I knew I had to do something to find out if anyone like us was in that audience. So when I heard a band announce that the Packers lost, I seized my opportunity. I let out a good “woo-hoo” that, when I was a kid attending shows, would have only made others chime in to vocalize their disregard for the world of pro sports. It felt good. A girl attending the show shouted “shut up” and shortly after apologized saying “I don’t know you”. It didn’t bother me. She should really learn to be herself and unapologetic about it, but that’s another post altogether. Her response was the only one I got. Not even one person had the gonads (yes, the word is a unisex word – look it up) to show a disregard for football or the Packers (even though they were at a show instead of a Packers party). That’s a huge difference. In the audiences of the ’90’s, the football fans would have been at home, there would have been no TV during the show, and the “woo-hoo” would have been a community holler. In truth, no one would have announced the game’s outcome because the bands and the audience just plain didn’t care. Period. It didn’t matter to us except for that we wouldn’t have to hear about the Packers 24/7 anymore.

All in all, the show’s audience wasn’t typical, I expect, but it probably wasn’t too far off. See, it was a playoff game and I’m sure many people stayed home or went to a Packers party instead of attending the show. (Trust me Amnesty members, they wouldn’t have been any fun if they came anyway.) Plus, all those people showed up without advertising/promoting to a wide audience. So the scene must be more mainstream now than it was when I was a kid. Waaaaaaaay more mainstream.

It even came through in the music. Many of the bands were very pop-based, with a cover band being one of the highlights of the night. The music played at equivalent shows in my generation was raw, loud, original, unconventional, and usually very dark. Last night felt very peppy, poppy, happy, and fun. Those are hugely different experiences.

Basically, the scene is dead. It’s morphed into something the members of Yellowcard (and their parents) would approve of. Maybe the death of the scene is sad, but I’m willing to bet those kids were doing something else last night. To know what that was is to know what future student council members and football fans will be doing in their spare time. Whatever it is, I hope it’s as edgy and exciting as I want it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. There were parts of the show I enjoyed. Those people, I assume, know who they are. And I am not going to share, because I think that it’s quite unkind to point out my, uh, “lack of excitement” about specified performances. I respect all who played last night. It’s hard to get up in front of others and seek approval like that. It’s risky. And all the performers were good at their specialty. It just happens that most of what I used to enjoy about local shows is now out of style and replaced by pop.

And what have I to say about Amnesty? Only awesome things. I love Amnesty and its mission. I was a member in HS and have participated in campaigns ever since. I definitely think that the ideals of a group like Amnesty complement those embodied in music much more closely than those found in sports.

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