The Netflix doc of Woodstock ’99 is called Trainwreck. And that about sums it up.
Of course, you wouldn’t have caught me DEAD at that concert. I was 26 years old, and even then, was not a fan of relatively mild outdoor concerts. The heat. Nowhere to sit. Port-o-potties. $20 lemonades. No. Thank. You.
The headlines about the doc say it’s where the Millennial vs. Boomer face off began… um, once again, HELLO GEN X HERE – THAT’S OUR MUSIC. WE’RE STILL HERE. CAN YOU SEE US? HELLO?
What up with Gen X treated as a smear of mayo in the middle of a generational sandwich?
Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The whole thing looked like a war zone by the end. John Scher and Michael Lang (who has since passed) deny just how bad it was, and also deny all responsibility, blaming a few bad apples for what went very wrong (why does that line of argument sound so familiar?), even as they put the conditions in place for disaster—not nearly enough security, amenities, or necessities. Fire hazards. Toxic drinking water. Bathrooms that became a mud slide of human waste.
People were harassed and raped too—many of them underage, and unconscious, girls. What did John Scher say about the rapes?
That the number that occurred were probably normal for any group of people that size. !!!
I just can’t. I can’t.
One of the concertgoers who lived to tell the tale (and kept his mullet for some reason), claims he’s never had a better time in his life, not before or in the 20 years hence. Wow.
Why? Because as he said he felt so free: “I could do whatever I wanted, with no responsibility.”
What does that say about our culture that the prospect of growing up and being an adult in it is so terrifying, repugnant, or dreadful, that the only way you can get a break from it is to destroy things and set them on fire? That it’s so bad that you need anarchy to experience true freedom?
This isn’t just a lesson in crowd control, nor could they have prevented it with better bathrooms. It drives home the reality of toxic masculinity, entitlement, and greed, which is very much alive today—and the concert goers were as much the victims of it as they were perpetrators.
If, as one of the talking heads said, the prospect of growing up and becoming adults in this culture is so horrific that they’d choose anarchy (or allow it to be chosen for them, see also: mob mentality), something’s really wrong.
Because this wasn’t political protests, or Black Lives Matter, this wasn’t about fighting for basic human rights.
This was a concert that (mainly) white men paid $150 (in 1999!) to attend, not including the exorbitant cost of food and water. A demographic who, let’s be honest, had far more options available to them than to most. It’s weird–it’s almost like they were railing against the patriarchy too. That’s making my head spin.
It’s worth a watch, only to be reminded that we’re always a hair’s breadth from madness—even when the goal is…a fun summer concert, let alone an attempt to recreate a historically peaceful event.
In light of what is actually happening in our country right now, it makes you wonder what we’re capable (and incapable) of, what forces contribute to it, and how rage ignites, and compels.