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That Damn Etiquette

by Jose Vilson on May 14, 2008

in Jose

When I read about the recent arrest of the infamous “Soulja Girl” (synopsis: she harassed an old lady on Atlanta’s metro train system, and the video got viral. for more info, watch here), I applauded. No really, I applauded all by myself in front of my computer. This was a situation that shows, really, the degradation of our youth. That huge sense of entitlement and unharnessed lawlessness really gets on my nerves with these kids. Whether it’s at the movie theatre or my schools, many of our youth have become more superficial, less integral, more belligerent, and more careless with themselves, more than anything.

While it’s easy to point at the parents, I’m of the belief that the village raises the child. When communities as a whole set a standard for how their neighborhoods like, for what their children should know, and how their offspring should behave in any given environment, I strongly believe that translates into higher success for the communities in general. There are clear examples of that in many communities of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, but the poorer ones rarely get highlighted. I also believe that there are neighborhoods that don’t have the social, fiscal, and/or experiential tools necessary to make that happen, but even the little things make a huge difference.

For example, at the movie theatre, I proposed to my girlfriend and partner-in-movie-watching that maybe theaters should establish a “code of conduct” at the movies. After the last few debacles at the movies, teenagers screaming curses at the screen for no apparent reason, others playfighting at the front of the movie screen, and others still hushing the people who were trying to quiet them down, I honestly wanted to dropkick at least a few of these teens for ruining these movies. Yes, they have as much right as I do to be there because they paid their 12$ like I did, but there’s an understanding that we’re all going to be quiet while the movie’s playing unless it implicitly elicits a crowd reaction, such as laughter, crying, or the occasional scream.

“Fuck that shit” is not an appropriate reaction (unless it’s Cloverfield, then go right ahead). Yet, when the movie theatre does not have appropriate consequences for dealing with people who interfere with the crowd’s movie-viewing experience, then they’re allowed to do as they please. They’ll make fart noises all throughout, get on their cell phone during the movie, or just find little ways to annoy you, thus leaving the chastising up to the patrons who are just there to enjoy a movie.

But Jose, this is coming from someone who’s a bit of a rebel rouser.

Yes, but I also understand the power of timing and purpose. Interrupting people’s subway ride because you want to scream some nonsense or act like you’re Mary J, but can’t even hit one of her lower notes is not conducive to anyone’s argument for the improvement of the proletariat’s condition. If you’re at the Kanye concert dancing to” Gold Digger” but you’re trying to sit on the stairs of a lower section than the ones you bought (and you’re the same chicks I catch at the club who never come with cash but an open hand), then you’re not really helping the situation out either. Retro Kids and hipsters crawling my stomping grounds making a whole lot of noise about the latest small-and-subpar hangout spot also make me sick. These group of people often make the noise I’m not trying to hear.

Then, I check that Soulja Girl video again, and she’s emblematic of the hip-hop movement these days in general: style without substance. At first glance, she’s reminiscent of how the young hip-hop kids would rebel against their elders through the use of music, and bucking the older generations’ culture and standards in favor of new trends and a sense of independence. Of course, that prose comes crashing down when you watch it again, and she probably doesn’t think about these implications as much as us philosophers, too. She’s probably just as annoying and trifling as she seems. And her mother said that she “didn’t take her meds that day.”

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. That excuse lacks substance for me, too.

jose, who definitely wrote a thinly-guised educational post here …

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