So I just came across this short article on the events of a recent Rascal Flatts concert. Basically a load of kids were arrested for underage drinking (or rather possession with intent to consume) in Darien Lake, NY, during a gig. Country’s always advocated the good-timin’ individual, the Honky-Tonk, etc although for some reason country has often harboured a rather conservative reputation. Perhaps it’s because they’re not quite as wild as rock and metal acts (although the line is significantly blurring) and because the ‘official core values’ of country remain domesticity in a patriarchal society, full of nostalgia for the ‘good ole days’ of a rural existence that was never a reality. Compared to that other genres can appear quite non-mainstream and forward-thinking. Add to that the accusations of racism and homophobia that often accompany country music’s history, although I think the racism argument can be put to bed now in light of further study into the advent of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
So country music’s conservative? Because of this reputation I think a lot of people have ignored just how hell raising country wants to be and has been for many years, just take a look at the lives of half of our legends. Hank Williams? Heavy drinker and womaniser. Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard? Spent time in prison. A large proportion of country songs are based on the Honky-Tonk tradition, hell an entire genre was named after a drinking and good-timin’ establishment.
Having said this I wouldn’t have said that Rascal Flatts are upholding that tradition. It is common knowledge that they are the more pop side of a pop-orientated Nashville, and having owned many of their albums for a number of years I can’t think of a song that glamourises a Honky-Tonk and drinking lifestyle. They produce mainly love songs, combined with bouncy, teen, summer, good-time songs which are more about going on a fun road trip with the gang than getting drunk.
However, fans of Rascal Flatts are fans of other country artists who do produce those heavy drinking songs, and even having said that it’s more a sign of teenagers being teenagers than the music they listen to. I hate people who say that rap makes kids kill people and stuff like that. It’s just not true. In addition the article does not say how old the kids were, just that they were underage. In the UK the drinking age is 18 and it is deemed perfectly acceptable to be drinking at concerts at that age. Personally I think the US age is bizarrely old just to drink alcohol and there comes a point where kids become interested in alcohol and can use it maturely so they really shouldn’t be bothered by things like this.
Either way, there is a drinking culture in working class America, and what the article probably doesn’t report is that this kind of thing no doubt goes on all over the place all the time. Because high schoolers drink, it’s a fact. And if they can use alcohol maturely I don’t see why not.
So I don’t country is a bad influence, but it certainly isn’t perfect. And if America thinks that drinking at gigs in your late teens is bad, it should take a look at its culture and reputation a little more, because that’s what’s to blame, not country music. I, for one, don’t think it’s a problem and think the drinking age should be lowered. You guys have bizarre logic, that’s for sure.
Although none of this accounts for the random acts of violence also mentioned in the article, that’s just acts of idiocy and dickheads.
(RE: a message I received, I neglected the part the venue has to play. I didn’t know its reputation but it seems this kind of thing happens a lot there and though I think my point still stands no doubt the nature of the venue and the area and the type of people who frequent it initiate this kind of behaviour.)