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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

gc scooterererers « Previous | |Next »
March 12, 2008

Something of a reprieve from the current panics around young people, internet porn and binge drinking.

Over the past few years the Gold Coast City Council has built a network of skate parks with a view to giving kids something to do and keeping them out of other public places. Very successfully too, although for 'kids' read 'boys'.

With anything like this the provision of the thing isn't anywhere near as interesting as what people do with it. Over time different cultures have developed at different parks, and some kids will skate, ride, be driven past several to get to the right one. Some things though, are common to most, if not all of them.

Where teenage boys congregate you'd reasonably expect teenage girls to follow, but they don't. My occasionally reliable sources can't explain this. At the one I'm most familiar with some bright spark placed the rubbish bins miles away, so council employees are kept busy picking up rubbish, but they're generally fairly clean places, in contrast with your average youthful bedroom for example.

The most striking thing though, is the level of cooperation among these kids and a general air of goodwill in the absence of supervision. Kids who threaten to spontaneously combust if they can't have the newest touch screen mobile phone right now become monuments to patience. They wait their turn through beginners and aces alike. This remarkable phenomenon is one of the subjects of a collaborative research project between Griffith University and the council. The website notes "plans to upgrade and extend facilities", some of which is already happening.

According to my occasionally reliable, scootering, main source, his own haunt is about to get a shade shelter and a foam pit. That's a big foam-filled hole designed to prevent injuries to people learning new tricks. He also tells me that the only tensions occur between different species - BMXers and scooterers apparently don't share well. The council wants to grow the facilities and include other activities, but the occasionally reliable source thinks mixing even more species would be a mistake.

Like anything else generation dot com does, this is all documented on YouTube. I'm not inclined to spend hours sifting through the clips for footage illustrating their remarkable commitment to cooperation, so this offering is the choice of my occasionally reliable source who is more interested in spreading images of himself as far as possible.

We're raising a bunch of death defiers who are incidentally learning a variety of skills associated with film making and marketing. There are two logics here - get your head on the internet, and get sponsorship. The production of these clips is a collaborative process aimed at perfecting the production in an effort to attract corporate attention. Sales and marketing people occasionally turn up at the parks and hand out stickers, which fires up their hopes of sponsorship. The ultimate aim is something along the lines of this, put together by the sponsored dude who features.

Lagettie is a minor deity who does everything apart from perform in the soundtrack. He's admired for falling off in public, so his status derives partly from a hairy masculinity, partly from tech savvy and partly from ordinary vulnerability. A pro who makes scootering for a living seem achievable.

The reality is that the scene is more likely to produce a Peter Weir than a pro scooterer, but in the meantime there's much to be gained from watching what these kids actually do, as opposed to worrying about what they might do left to their own devices with an internet connection.

| Posted by Lyn at 10:51 AM | | Comments (6)


Great story, Lyn.

There's an air of youth-moral panic in Snug, Tasmania (20 mins south of Hobart) where I live, and talk of building a skate park. I hadn't thought of the media-cultural spin offs and multimedia skills enabled by such a space.

Don't worry, people will still panic. They always do when young people congregate, which is what they do in skate parks.

There are other spin offs too. These scooters weren't meant to be treated this way and tend to fall apart with fairly mild provocation. The boys all carry around toolkits and spare parts, so they learn a bit about rudimentary mechanics, maintenance, taking care of their own tools and anticipating problems.

There's a strong sense of community even among rival groups. Two of the kids from our local were killed recently in a car accident and there was a kind of mobilisation of grief for two of their own which spread beyond people who knew them.

I am no fan of the dubious concept "moral panic." I have yet to see the phrase used for any other reason than closing down social facts that people find upset their ideological hideboundness.

But if you can't beat 'em...

One "moral panic" I am growing tired of is the panic over the white working class 'racist.' The latest is that these evil 'Hansonites,' 'Aspirationals,' 'Howard Battlers,' have the gall to rebuff their superiors by "fleeing" to private schools!

Of course, it had to be the truly excerable SMH to inflame this trope with a par for course dogs-breakfast of critical and quantitative reasoning from one of their never-ending stream of innumerate scribblers.

There are plenty of other things wrong with the way the term is used. A lot of the time they have little, if anything, to do with morality. Panic rarely spreads beyond the media and maybe 5 Letter-to-the-Editor writing citizens. An issue that dies with the end of a 24 hour news cycle is hardly a panic, even if it is confined to media.

Still, it's a handy way of describing an exaggerated response to something. At least we know what we mean.

there is a skate park in the Adelaide CBD that is very successful. I've always thought that it would be an ideal place to have a free street art wall that shows different work every month or so; or more creatively built a public pizza around it so that other people can hang out and converse with on another.

There was an article in the local paper about street art walls. Such things are considered to be criminal graffiti filth around here which is a real shame. A street artish mural was recently applied to a building at our local. I say 'applied' because whoever did it, did it somewhere else and literally glued it onto the building. The kids responded badly to it because it has gang themes, which they think is asking for trouble they don't want.

The parks are built with the deliberate intention of keeping the kids and the 'nice' public apart. On one hand the kids love showing off, so an audience, public mingling kind of affair would be great. On the other hand, being away from adults is part of the attraction. I imagine adults with video cameras would be a different story.