The ’90s were fucking stupid. Anyone who has nostalgia about the decade — mostly about stupid cartoons, like Powerpuff Girls, I’ve noticed — obviously forgets the vapid emptiness of those dark ten years. Only now can we mock our own past with the bitterness it deserves, even if the 2010’s turned out to be far more darkly dystopic.
That’s where this 1993 Today Show report comes in. The three-second clip about Madonna (‘She brought you sex! She brought you erotica! Now she joins Brian Blah Blah for an exclusive turd…’) proves everything about my point above, but never mind that. In this six-minute featurette, an undercover reporter, Jill Rappaport, who tells about this ‘underground explosion raging across the country.’ She sounds like a PR person for Doritos. Jill goes to a rave, where she interviews a large amount of ‘young people’ about what raving is about. It’s kind of endearing.
But here’s the thing: every single one of those kids in that video is obviously high as fuck.
Watch it. Tell me I’m wrong. The fact that the late Harold Hunter (two years before the skater starred in Larry Clark’s Kids and later died of a cocaine overdose in 2006) appears at the 2:55 mark says it all, as if the jittery behavior of these teens says anything else. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Doing drugs (responsibly) is fine, especially when the drugs are as safe as MDMA (commonly called ‘ecstasy’ by dumb people). Yet, watching these kids try to hold it together while stoned out of their minds is precisely what makes this pop-culture corporate TV turd so entertaining.
It’s strange to think the girl grinding her teeth and fixing her hair at 3:20 is (probably) a mom today. The bulging eyes, the twitching, the obvious effects of some pill… The reporter blissfully misses all those petty details.
But this video program is out of touch for other reasons.
First of all, raves aren’t new. What Jill describes as ‘the ’90s version of the ’60s Love-In’ also existed in the ’70s and ’80s, and way before all that too. The drugs may have changed, but secret parties where kids get high and dance all night have existed since, well, Dionysus.
You can’t help but giggle as Jill tries a so-called ‘Smart Drink,’ blissfully unaware (or maybe completely aware, who knows? Jill almost seems to wink at the camera) of its purpose, which is to help the body replenish nutrients lost via, as Erowid puts it, “physical stress that can frequently be caused by … all night dancing at high BPM’s.”
So even though these kids like “Dennis the Menace” are saying things like ‘If you can’t enjoy [a rave] without doing drugs, you have a problem’ or ‘The music is the drug,’ they are obviously lying, while also rolling balls. Which is hilarious.
Of course raves are about friendship and community and PLUR and all that shit too, and the intoxicants are secondary. The point of raves are to be underground and rebel against the mainstream idea of thirdspace, i.e. bars and clubs and exclusive art galleries.
But raves are also about drugs and there’s nothing wrong with that. We should advocate safe, responsible drug use, but also not ignore it, either. Surprisingly, only Katherine Couric in the video seems concerned about raving. Similar news reports would be quick to turn this topic into an anti-drug PSA, furthering the War on Drugs agenda.
Someday, drugs like MDMA will be legal and we’ll look back at idiotic news reports like this one and laugh even harder.
Chitral Hays is a pot and drug blogger from Tempe, Arizona. Email him at [email protected]
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