That Damn Etiquette - The Jose Vilson

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 …

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Dakar May 14, 2008 at 9:52 pm

I, too, was glad to hear she had been arrested. I honestly hope she gets the help she needs, but I really hope that boyfriend of hers gets an English tutor.

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aulelia May 15, 2008 at 9:47 am

From your post, I can note a correlation between what is going on here in the UK and the US then. It seems that a lot of young people feel *entitled* to act however they want because they *want* to. It is the most ludicrous way of looking at the world quite frankly (but perhaps Mr. Bush agrees with it with his conduct).

“Code of Conduct” is an excellent idea. Firstly, it would ensure that all the people who have given up £5 to go the bloody cinema get to hear all the words the actors are saying! I find it just ridiculous at the way a segment of teenagers feel like they created the pavement.

The Anti-Social Behavioural Orders (ASBOs) was Tony Blair’s attempt to deal with the supporters of noise in the street and general trouble makers here in England. However, what ASBOs did that was bad was they diluted the concept of what you were talking about how about how a village raises a child. I think that is an inherently ‘black’ or ‘african’ trait and with the fear of generalising across the seas, from your post, it looks like it is pretty much all but vanished.

In today’s climate where parents get murdered outside their homes for telling certain young groups of teenage boys to stop screaming and drinking cider, the etiquette you are talking about is desperately needed.

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AngelaMichelle May 15, 2008 at 3:19 pm

I had absosmurfly no clue about this store until someone mentioned it on Twitter, and after watching the video for the first time today (thanks… I think), as well as the interview with her mother, I definitely have to say… WTHP? I’m not as aghast as most due to the child’s antics, because it’s clear she has psychotic issues. In addition to that, it’s clear the child has a mother who has maintained the delusion that meds alone are a cure-all for the child’s disorder, and has left the child in charge of her own treatment. This episode goes far beyond the “typical” rebelliousness of children. It speaks of a failed system within that family structure to get the child the help she needed, and then unleashing her on the public at large.

and for the record, “fuck that shit” is way too light of a response for “cloverfield”. i call for an angry mob and pitchforks.

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Ensayn May 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Soulja Girl is mentaly ill, she turned herself in to the police at the urging of her mother. The senior she verbally assaulted is refusing to press charges against Soulja Girl, as she says she realized the young lady was ill and didn’t fear her. Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority is leaving charges to be filed by the senior but as I stated before she will not. But, this is only one that it truely ill. There is no excuse for the rest that act so rudely!

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Jose May 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm

You know, I think AM definitely pointed to something I was semi-getting at, and that is, yes, she might have been mentally ill, but medications alone don’t account for some children’s behaviors. There was a study that showed that if you speak to many of these children that have “mental issues” like normal people, a lot of those problems start going away. In other words, we also need to supplement those meds with actual behavior adjustment.

aulelia, ASBOs really sound like crap, only because of the concentration on African / Black people. I don’t mind some of the noise, for instance, made on the train. When it’s too quiet, I start wondering what happened to that exciting NYC, and sometimes the graffiti really brings to life those dull-ass trains. Nonetheless, when I’m at a movie, I’d like some quiet so I can fully enjoy the movie. That’s really what I’m asking for, and that goes for people of all races, not just one.

J, that’s real talk. I think we need to have appropriate consequences for people’s acts. She’s lucky she’s not getting charged.

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bygbaby May 16, 2008 at 10:29 am

I could not believe what I was seeing & hearing. What is more disturbing was that none of the older people on train did nothing. Not sure what i would have done but damn. When she got up & dance, i was like she is unstable & I’m happy to see that I was not wrong & her mom made her get help.

The ending was a mess. You the dude that raped me, where my doo rag…

I may have to post this on my blog!!!

Bygbaby

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Shelly May 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

>>“Fuck that shit” is not an appropriate reaction (unless it’s Cloverfield, then go right ahead).<<

Lol I couldn’t agree more!

Seriously though, after watching that YT video I was, like most people, shocked and horrified. And saddened. That young girl is obviously lost and full of rage. This speaks to me of where we are – ALL of us – in terms of the ongoing responsibilty we have to continue working on our societal and familial structures.

As Aulelia said, there is an increasingly serious situation in the UK regarding violence, selfishness and general loss of respect. Not just with young people but across the board. A code of etiquette would be a good start to managing things but a much deeper communication and healing is required.

Great post Jose, thanks.

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Amauri T. May 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

Well glad there were some consequences for that insanity. I agree that this medication stuff is overdone. Kids have been bad and loud forever, why is it only now in the 21st century that every behavior is a syndrome requiring chemicals? Next they will want to drug the parents as well…oh wait, that is already going on.

I had a chance to interview some execs from the biggest theatre chain. Theatres make tons of cash hand over fist even with piracy, retarded prices, etc because we all need a place to go….the ONLY business problem they face is behavior, according to the execs. There must be some way to address it with technology; maybe require IDs and then start banning/suspending ppl who can’t control themselves.

BTW you are all haters for shitting on Cloverfield.

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mzvirgo May 17, 2008 at 10:24 am

Dare I say that I haven’t been in the movies in a long time for reasons that you have stated? LOL. Other than that, there aren’t any good movies anymore.

I listened to the audio of that Soulja Girl. It is disturbing. But what is more interesting is the technology we have today, to even use camera phones to record that and upload it on YouTube. Is that what it comes down to, when a crime is taking place, to reach for your camera phone and record it instead of calling 911? I wonder about that. Because stuff like that happens in New York all the time, but no one is reaching for their camera phone to record it.

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