29 Mar 2006, 5:52pm
club culture news media subculture
by jordan

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seattle afterparty shooting: reflexive discourse in the rave scene

in less upbeat youth culture news, apparently a gunman opened fire late last Friday night/early Saturday morning at an afterparty for a zombie-themed rave, killing six partygoers and then himself. the event, and subsequent news coverage, has provoked nervous responses from the local electronic music scene, which are unsurprising in some ways, yet don’t seem entirely warranted. the initial news reports actually seemed pretty even-handed to me — no wild speculations about the gunman being a drug-addicted Marilyn Manson fan who secretly worshipped Adolf Hitler and was an occult-loving loner (as opposed to how the media first described the Columbine shooters, or Scott Dyleski).

but at least some kids in the local scene (dubbed “rave” culture by the media) are worrying that their subculture will be blamed, classic moral-panic style. which is understandable — both the media and public officials have a bad habit of looking to youth culture as depraved and destructive in order to explain these kinds of incidents, demonizing KMFDM or MySpace or whatever else is a convenient way to get parents worked up about their dangerous teenagers. because pathologizing adolescents is apparently easier than actually addressing the causes of alienation and disaffection in society.

in this case, though, the local scene’s concerns seem more based in fear than reality. Rave, goth and other subcultures are targeted so easily and often that now we expect it regardless of how the media or local community might actually be responding. i have to wonder if amplifies this effect to have subcultural youth feel defensive anytime something dramatic like this happens. for the moment, at least, the police seem to be treating this as a freak shootout, possibly premeditated, but not precipitated solely by drugs or alcohol or dance music.

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