Sunday, 29 June 2014

Don't be a Glastonbully

It always makes me slightly uncomfortable to see people writing, Tweeting and whinging about the Glastonbury Festival.  The current trend, as with everything, is to disparage and mock - and I guess that's fair enough, if that's your thing.  But the sneering and snobbery can be pretty unedifying.

Brendan O'Neill makes an interesting point in The Spectator about Glastonbury's move towards regulation, green policing and health-and-safety countermanding the festival's original principals of freedom and sticking two fingers up to 'the man' - but the issue I have is with those who eschew Glastonbury because it has become 'too middle-class', or 'too corporate'.

Ignoring, for a minute, the obvious quandary of defining such 'problems' in the first place (how 'middle-class' is 'too middle-class'? And in today's complex society, what is or isn't 'middle-class' anyway?), it baffles me how people can utter such things and not consider themselves snobbish and élitist.  What people are really saying with statements like these is: "Gastonbury is not for you. We don't want these sorts of people coming 'round here!"

What would be the reaction if, for example, affluent golf club members were seen to be complaining that their club had started letting in 'the wrong class of people', and that this was ruining the atmosphere of the place?  Not good; but how is that any different, in principle, from some festival-goers' attitudes towards Glastonbury?

Surely the founding ethos of a music festival like Glastonbury is that it is an inclusive and welcoming community, and that the usual conventions of an often divisive and cut-throat society do not apply?  By denouncing Glastonbury as 'full of the wrong types of people', those expounding these views have become everything which they would normally profess to hate - élitist, classist, prejudicial snobs, looking down their noses at people for being different from them.

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