While this series may be titled clickbait cop, we’ll be using this title to explore pieces of music journalism or news that we feel needs criticised to some degree, even if the headline in question may not be ‘clickbait’.
By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)
While it may feel weird to start off a piece such as this praising the creator of today’s culprit, credit must be given where credit is due. In this Guardian piece, titled ‘are the days of the moshpit numbered?‘, writer Hannah Ewens begins by reminiscing on her days of getting bashed and sweaty in numerous moshpits during her youth, a stark contrast to ‘journalism’ we’ve covered before which came off as mindless moaning about staples of gigging.
In fact, the first few paragraphs actually start to weave something of a strong narrative, exploring the concept of safe spaces at gigs which aren’t inherently laughable as shown by the example of progressive, talented bands trying to implement such a thing. It’s a strange old world when a left-leaning newspaper is producing better music features than something like the NME, a former cornerstone of the market.
It’s not until we get to the eighth paragraph, about two-thirds of the way through the piece in question, though, where your bobbing head will start to become a stern shake from left to right. The quote in question that will incite this isn’t the one you may expect the white man writing this reply to get angry at, “biggest defenders of moshpits are usually straight men“, rather it’s the following line which reads:
Most women I know who go to shows are either agnostic or hate them.
This is the point where I started to question what I was reading more than usual. To use the same thinking as Ewens, most women I know are on the complete other end of the spectrum when it comes to pits, notably twitter user @leerkat who said “it’s like people don’t understand there’s a whole world of moshing between toxic hypermasculine crowd killing and pits you can find at PUP or Menzingers”. She’s not alone in thinking this as many users seem to disagree with this piece, noting that people other than men can go just as hard in pits as them and feel like, in a sense, that it is their safe space. A particular comment that I’d like to point out comes from the Guardian’s very own comment section from user Hazelthecrow:
To build on leerkat’s aforementioned point, Ewens seems to be unaware, whether this is intentional or not I don’t know, of the progression made in terms of moshpits. No longer is there a laissez-faire attitude of trying to hit everyone around you and letting anyone who crosses you fend for themselves on the floor, covered in all sorts of liquids. Instead, a lot of it is far more polite while still maintaining that adrenaline of cathartically moshing around, forgetting all of your problems: one side doesn’t negate the other and it’s still possible to just let loose while still respecting those around you, especially women. In addition to this, moshpits are purely opt-in, opt-out: it’s as easy to get into one as it is to get out and it’s not hard to know how to spot one when a huge opening in the middle appears for a circle pit. There’s a total sense of camaraderie that is unprecedented in the live scene when it comes to modern moshing and to brush it off as nothing but a cesspool of toxic masculinity is both naive and foolish.
One other thing worth mentioning is the example of Code Orange’s gig where a man wearing steel toe-capped left a woman with a broken jaw amongst multiple other injuries. This instance is absolutely deplorable and represents another type of moshing known as hardcore dancing, or HxC, another topic for another day, but one that doesn’t link into the type of scene the examples Ewens is using. From what’s been said, the whole aim of these types of pits is to intentionally hurt those around you but is only really seen in metalcore and deathcore shows which isn’t to excuse the instance, rather point out a narrative flaw since the piece seems to be talking about good old rock shows than these.
Many replied to this piece already, stating that there are already safe spaces at gigs such as up near the back, beside the sound deck and near the barrier right by the security. While these people aren’t totally in the wrong, maybe venues should draw more attention to these areas so that those who want a safe space can have so without damaging the experience of others. On top of this, security should be given the relative training to deal with instances of assault which sadly still happen far too frequently. Sexual assault at gigs is a major problem and I respect the fact that it seems to be the reason behind Ewens thinking.
The honest truth though is that mosh pits aren’t the reason for it: it’s entitled, gross sacks of shit guys who are. Removing moshpits not only would do nothing at all to prevent assault but would instead punish the usual gig goer and many women and men who feel safest in there. Everyone wants others to enjoy going to a gig and the sooner we stamp out this epidemic of assault at gigs which organisations such as Girls Against are helping to do, the better. In the meantime though, let’s keep a staple of gigs alive, support our brothers and sisters in the pit, not look down our nose at an entire gender who love to mosh just as much as everyone else and stomp out any slimy, sexist pigs in our scene.