I belong to a group in this country that is fast becoming culturally ascendant. In the birth of our identity, 'mainstream' was and still should be, the lamest thing you could ever call anyone. You know who I'm talking about: The Grunge Generation.
I've seen those 90s retro-parties break out aaaall over town. It's our time, baby.
It seems redundant for me to comment on this 'excluded-from-the-mainstream' outrage issue when the demographic status of most people in this country renders Brash’s comments absurd. All I want to ask is this: When the hell did people start being so proud of being mainstream?
I don’t seem to be able to find a photograph of myself between 1992 and 1994 in which I am not wearing a Badmotorfinger t-shirt. I tried to go Goth, but wasn't pale enough. Remember 89X? When I was in form three, that station was like, so alternative. This meant it was a good thing. It wasn't really a very alternative radio station, it was actually totally mainstream. Which means it was lame. Remember ‘alternative’? Before we were old enough to realise we should be saying ‘indie’ or even just 'bFM'? When women were grrls and no-one had to worry about tailoring? It was a great time to be a young teenager with no wardrobe allowance.
Mainstream was for suckers, Rock Stars were for Killing. Kurt Cobain shot himself on my sixteenth birthday. Probably just as well. You can never go mainstream if Kurt Cobain shoots himself on your sixteenth birthday.
Recalling my simplistic grunge revisionist music history now... the baby boomers rejected The Mainstream Establishment, punk reacted against the smug complacency of boomer hippies (who everyone knew would sell out), and grunge was a reincarnation of punk, reacting against the now fully sold-out Mainstream ex-hippy baby-boomer Establishment. Oh yes, that's right. Now I remember. Baby-boomers have mainstreamed themselves, but are guilty about it. But I think Don Brash totally missed the 60s.
You could take this all as an allusion to being an ethnic minority. Substitute mainstreamed boomers for the post-Cold-War liberal-internationalist consensus, Grunge for the Western-raised children of the postcolonial coloured diaspora, and Kurt Cobain shooting himself in the head for the the 1996 general election, and you have the makings of a truly hideous and fascinating extended metaphor. Would Rushdie's 'Imaginary Homelands' be The Trip Volume 1?
OR you could think about my next question: Was anyone else quite surprised at the utter repulsiveness of (blogger) David Farrar on the Tax Debate TV thing? Kind of freaked out by that one intense spurt of bitterness and vitriol against people getting better tax breaks than him through Working For Families “just because they choose [as one would pick out a package holiday] to have children”? At the air of total disgust for human reproduction? You really, really wouldn’t want to let him near your child. I can see it now. “You’ve devoured my tax break! I will devour YOU, filthy woman-spawn! AAARHGHERERRGH!!!” Still, the silver lining was immediately apparent – Mr Farrar obviously isn’t choosing to reproduce anytime soon. It was kind of the lacklustre equivalent of the ‘Great Race Debate’ “bloody Maoris eating people” moment, which shows how much less exciting tax is than race.
There will be plenty of other comment about the show from more qualified people I expect. But aside from the pall of pointlessness that lay over the set, given the Opposition Finance spokesperson being totally unwilling to talk about any details of his policy, it also seemed Simon Dallow was having real problems controlling the debate (maybe Margaret Wilson would have been a better choice). The only person he seemed able to cut off was the only person who was prepared to politely outline a party tax policy that we didn’t already know, but could certainly have benefited from hearing: Professor Whatarangi Winiata of the Maori Party. He was just too much of a gentleman. The only (no, wait, there was one other) woman present, from the NZIER, was also very polite, self-effacing and knowledgeable, and wasn’t into shouting over anybody either. So we didn’t hear much from her. Looks like the Maori and the Woman just weren’t mainstream enough for that.
Increasingly, it seems mainstream must mean loud and rude. This, shockingly, is where my Grunge vs Mainstream analysis really does break down. Grunge is loud and rude, and ALL about the shouting. Crap, it looks like grunge is more mainstream than I ever wanted to admit. Help us Kurt, what are we to do?