Straight Edge

So National Geographic last night had a show about a youth movement called Straight Edge.

This group of kids claims to be about finding a place for loners to belong, and opposition (sometimes violently) to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and casual sex.  Oh, and every social gathering depicted on the show (many, across multiple years and several cities) was about thrash punk and violent “dancing” (the technical term is “moshing”).  And they were all festooned in tattoos.

The show was organized around a central question: is Straight Edge a legitemate youth movement that’s good and healthy, or is it a violent group or even a gang?

Given their confused philosophy and mixed premises, the show’s producers were not able to grasp the essence of the questions they really need to ask, nor the methodology required to answer.  They showed a series of out-of-focus segments, some about kids who want to be “good”, and others who want to “clean up” the place.  To these kids, cleaning up seems to be about forcing others.

The show never asked why these kids felt like they had to be so immersed in what they considered to be a corrupt youth culture.  Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid a bad scene than to deliberately go seek it out in order to commit acts of violence?

These kids feel that they are the victims a malevolent universe.  Different subgroups of them react to this in their differing ways.  But they do have in common a social scene based on violent “music” (noise), violent “dancing” (that even the narrator admitted looked like martial arts), and a sense that they are being made into victims.

The show never asked if it was possible to live a positive life with this belief.

The producers of the show seemed genuinely confused about whether it is “inevitable” that a youth movement would have a violent “arm”.  That obviously depends on what common idea unites the group.  Normal groups do not have a violent arm!

Straight Edge unites kids that feel the world is a horrible place that victimizes them, that drugs and sex and booze and cigarettes are fundamentally powerful and therefore need to be “fought” (as in a war), that it is “fun” to thrash violently, that you show respect for your movement by permanently inking your body, etc.

No, they are not a gang.  Straight Edge is a religious group, a cult.  Not all of its members are frothing fanatics, but then neither are all muslims.  Muslims, too, avoid alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.  Muslims, too, commit violence while fully sober in the name of what they consider righteous.

The nature of the idealogy and the group is what it is.

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2 Responses to “Straight Edge”

  1. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

    Robert Michel

  2. […] Ragnar Danneskjold placed an interesting blog post on Straight EdgeHere’s a brief overview […]

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