Watching Vincent Browne on Monday night I was once again unsurprised to see four people over the age of 40 discuss the current ‘Necknomination craze’ that has swept the country over the past two weeks.
While discussing the problem of young people and alcohol, it was very noticeable that there wasn’t a young person on the panel to give their side of things. What you had were four people, who are not involved with the peer pressure that comes with ‘Necknominations’, lecturing people about it. This concept is as ridiculous as the notion of having a group of men over 50 discussing abortion issues, or heterosexual men being the people who discuss homosexual issues. Oh wait… Nevermind.
We have allowed a culture of ‘We know best’ to flourish within Irish society, a culture where the people affected by certain issues are the people who are not listened to. I am not writing this with a solution to the ‘Necknominations’ craze, or the problems that young people in Ireland face with alcohol, but I do think the way these issues are approached can be changed.
As Marilyn Manson responded when he was asked what would he have said to the children at Columbine after the tragedy that happened there: ‘I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they had to say… and that’s what no one did.’
This is what happened on Vincent Browne on Monday night.
It is very easy for media organisations like The Mirror, The Sun, RTÉ and TV3 to slam ‘Necknominations’ and vilify Irish drinking culture, especially amongst younger people, but these organisations always neglect their own responsibility when it comes to these issues. When it comes to these organisations, it is always the case of pointing the finger of responsibility at somebody else and never turning the finger of blame upon themselves. For instance, right now they are slamming drinking culture in Ireland, but what do they do when one of the world’s biggest political AND cultural icons in Barack Obama comes to Ireland? Give him a pint of Guinness and put him on the front page!
In the case of TV3, it’s great for them to have a discussion on ‘Necknominations’ and the problems that young people in Ireland have with alcohol, but is it ever discussed on the station, that they are the one who broadcasts ‘Tallafornia’? A show that is aimed directly at young people and involves people going to clubs with the sole intention of getting absolutely smashed all for the sake of cheap Friday night entertainment? Don’t be so silly, of course it isn’t.
That is not a direct shot at Vincent Browne, a man whom I greatly respect; it is a shot at the hypocritical nature of media in Ireland.
This hypocritical nature of Irish media and politics is rife and it is always the same people who are under-represented. Young people are not listened to in these scenarios because politicians do not fear them like they do older groups. Politicians feel like they can walk all over young people because they think younger people are not bothered to vote. That is why younger people are the main victims of ridiculous ideas such as JobBridge and are targeted by acts of ageism, such as dole cuts for under 25’s. Politicians simply do not care – but they should. There is a changing tide in young people’s view of politics. Young people are involved now more than ever, and with the Internet, are clued in more than ever and are ready for change. The voiceless will be heard.