Being independent doesn’t mean being out to shock. Liverpool’s vein of independence is vital to its culture and identity but a culture of idiocy is making us the same as everyone else, says Laura Brown.
Independence in Liverpool once was finding a derelict warehouse and setting up a club culture on the qt that suddenly went global. It was watching what was happening in the corridors of power and snitching. It was a culture built on the psychology of Adrien Henri’s happenings, of having the right to voice a view and doing it articulately, persuasively, powerfully and often with a song.
Now we’re tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting, chucking it all in to become guerrilla filmmakers, spending more time online than off it, thinking we’re the story, but failing to come up with any original narrative outside pulled pork, posturing and sideburns.
So what happened? Where’s our real counter-culture spirit now? As we knock down historic building after historic building and turn it into student flats/apart-hotels and rentakit homogeneous developments where’s our corner of weird kids? Our samizdat spirit? Where are our real outliers and mavericks hiding?
When did we start mistaking anarchic chutzpah with Meat Liquor rip offs, networking-as-social-climbing and slactivism independence sloganeering? Want to sell more hotdogs by using a woman’s disability and ability to dislocate her jaw as a PR puff? Why not? What about banning girls from the clubhouse? Done. How about using death row as the inspiration for a diner? Why the fuck not?
Under a veil of independence these places play on the offensive to secure press coverage. I guess it’s the likely outcome when you have more PR agencies and marketing academies in a city centre than creative outlets, cinemas or galleries.
The problem is that these idiots (because idiots they are) dress up their independent status as a subversive counter culture when it’s anything but. They whip up a storm of publicity because that’s their social-media-buzzing objective. Not being independent.
It doesn’t make people think. It promotes offence. The “no girls aloud” story prompted the most vile and misogynist comments underneath it on the Echo’s Facebook page. They moderate as best they can but once you’ve seen it you’ve seen it. It appropriates a sexist and patriarchal language and culture that feeds into a community that believes online and offline are men’s spaces that women are being allowed to use. It’s walking through a gang of lads, one of them with their hands down their pants, and trying not to be scared. I’m sure the barber shop in question never thought of it that way. They probably never thought about it at all.
This Death Row Diner concept though, is both revolting – and drearily unoriginal at the same time.
Why wouldn’t you want to think of botched executions, of post-execution exoneration, or affronts to human dignity while you’re chomping down on a burger and cocktail?
Because let’s not forget what death row is – the cornfed cherry on the top of a racist, unjust justice system in the US. Oh, and do you want fries with that?
Being independent is about being informed. You can’t reject the mainstream narrative if you don’t understand it in the first.
Young people have to explore their own culture, of course they do, they have the internet when all we had was hanging outside the Palace and Probe on a Saturday before buying some lip gloss and heading to Chavasse Park with a butty from Quiggins cafe.
By just appropriating someone else’s independent culture (London’s, Brooklyn’s, Manchester’s) you’re not being independent, you’re as pulled as the pork.
And for Liverpool, sorry but it’s just not good enough.