Hands up, it's the moral police!
Over the weekend, one of Thailand's biggest music events, Big Mountain Music Festival (BMMF), drew huge crowds.
Now in its sixth incarnation, BMMF's fan base has changed somewhat, and I am not quite sure if it's for better or worse. The age range for BMMF attendees appears to drop on a yearly basis. This year, most of the participants looked to still be in high school, and some, judging from their haircuts and fashion sense, were in junior high.
I've never missed a single BMMF, and there are things that I'm not particularly fond of about it. But I still believe that it's a good festival even though I don't appreciate the heavy traffic, trash management, younger crowds (now that I am growing older) and sometimes the mundane line-ups.
This year, in particular, BMMF was extremely young, and the kids certainly let it all hang out. Complaints regarding underage drinking, collective drunkenness, sexual activity on campsites and smoking have surfaced since Monday. The haters are calling for some sort of state regulation and the demise of BMMF. They cite the festival as a breeding ground for evil and corruption of young minds.
Wait a minute here.
Last time I checked, non-underage drinking, smoking cigarettes and consensual sex are not illegal activities. They occur everywhere in the world where there are music festivals. This is what people do, and if it doesn't harm anyone else or create problems for society, I don't see the need to shut anything down except the naysayers' closed minds.
I'm not advocating a hedonistic lifestyle, but who made you a member of the moral police?
Underage drinking at BMMF is problematic, don't get me wrong. Also,
I don't enjoy being surrounded by thousands and thousands of drunken youngsters who decide it's a good idea to pass out around 8pm, as they can't handle their alcohol.
From what I understand, BMMF adheres to usual practices seen at music festivals anywhere in the world for underage festival goers. The young ones get different-coloured wristbands to signify that they're not of drinking age. BMMF, however, could benefit from more strict bar staff. Then again, those kids could easily ask their older friends to buy truckloads of alcohol — people will find a way to drink if they really want to.
The moral police blame it all on the festival, which in their minds caters to all vices. I get that it's disturbing to see the young ones engaging in these "unbecoming" activities, as due to their age, they still don't know how to control their urges.
But it's parents' job to educate their kids, not yours and not mine. They should teach their kids about responsible drinking, the dangers of smoking and the downsides of having sex too young — the physical and emotional pressure it entails.
If I had teenage kids who wanted to attend music festivals, I would just go with them, sulking in the corner, rather than expecting organisers to protect my offspring from what I deem to be dangerous. I would also teach them what's appropriate for their age, and help them to understand how to do things in moderation. Then I could only hope that my parenting made sense to them.
I don't understand why the moral police brigade choose to attend BMMF. After all, the festival is known for its lively, partying atmosphere that can sometimes be a bit over the top for those who are not accustomed to this lifestyle. If you want a serene festival, you should look somewhere else, or stay at home.
As a thinking human being, you should always understand or research the festival you're spending money on, not just blindly go and be disappointed.
If you don't like BMMF for what it is, then simply don't go, as you can't expect it to cast out people you don't want to associate with.
I don't work for BMMF, and I think that they could be more strict when it comes to selling alcohol to minors. But at the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own actions and our children.
Onsiri Pravattiyagul writes about music and contemporary culture for Life.