Smashing windows and burning police cars – modern boy’s rite of passage?


By now many people have heard about the shameful rioting that took place in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup loss last week. Is this the modern boy’s rite of passage I’ve been writing about on my previous two postings?  Smashing windows, burning cars, making out in the street? Some pathetic idea about self-aggrandizement and ruling the street?

Although some are calling it the work of anarchists – a wholly unsubstantiated claim – many others say it is simply the act of a generation of mostly boys and young men who are pumped up on their own egos, looking for attention, and lacking in any sense of social responsibilty or pespective on their privileged position.

Is this the event that will mark the passage from boyhood to manhood for these guys and make them think about their place in the world or will it just highlight the fact that forever young and irresponsible can be the men in our society?

Here is what Kamela Todd wrote on a local homeschooling list about it.  She’s hit the nail on the head in my opinion – calling a spade a spade and cutting through the crap that the mainstream media is (once again) overlooking.

It (was) like a house party out of control. I think it’s pretty pathetic when the police chief tries to pass this off on a group of extreme ‘criminals’ and ‘anarchists’. Ha! Sure, there were a few destructive types who did go down with the intention of causing damage–it’s probably their thing that they get off on.

This is not some radical fringe. These were real true blue Canuck fans, everyday boys who were simply engaging in what society has sanctioned as normal male behaviour–aggression, drinking, living it up, getting caught up in the “Canuck fever” and all of that stuff. Boys gone wild. Pissing on the car fires (those were nice images, weren’t they?!?!), beating each other up, getting off on the thrill of smashing and destroying. The games themselves, the frenzy, the hype are all part of the spectacle culture. And how is the violence on the street really any different than the sanctioned (encouraged?) violence of the games? To me it’s all problematic.

They are the sons (and some of them, the daughters) of normal, mainstream, ‘respectable’ people. They are the ‘good kids’ in many cases.

It was easier (in 1994) to blame these “Thugs” as fringe losers who are not “real” fans or “real” Vancouverites, than to face the fact that perhaps we as a society are promoting this kind of male aggression. That the consumerist, narcissistic, life-is-a-party drinking lifestyle that is promoted everywhere is part of the problem. That’s not to say these guys were not idiots–they certainly were behaving like idiots!! And why is it that most people did not feel the need to punch someone or light a car on fire?

I was disgusted by the behaviour of those guys, and they are morons and thugs to me–but their behaviour is the same kind of violent, it’s-all-about-me behaviour that we see day.  It’s in the extreme forms when men rape and kill Aboriginal street workers, when every single image of sex out there shows us that it’s all about men getting off, when men pursue their own greed and self-satisfaction through digging up, tearing down, and polluting the land for profit. And so on. Things got extreme because of many factors (in addition to the intensity of the game and the anticipation)–the booze, the media cameras, the pent-up aggression, etc.

I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do believe that this event is simply a reflection of some of the ugliness at the core of our society–that we, as a society, really need to address (and writing off the losers as simply losers, rather than products of a dysfunctional society will never help us get to that core).

I believe that a society that honours women, that sees the earth and all its creatures as sacred, that takes care of its elders and children, that listens to its elders and children, and so on–would not have this kind of anger and rowdiness erupt in such a violent and ugly way.

This entry was posted in Aggression, Child-rearing, Ethnocentric, Games, Hockey, Organized sport, Peace, Rites of passage, rituals, Sons, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Smashing windows and burning police cars – modern boy’s rite of passage?

  1. Belinda White says:

    You’re right, edgymama, Kamala has it dead on here in my not so humble opinion! I’m tempted to add, if I may, “I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do believe that this event is simply a reflection of some of the ugliness at the core of our society–that we, as a society, really need to address (and writing off the losers as simply losers, rather than products of a dysfunctional society [apparently designed specifically to ‘produce’ such ‘losers’] will never help us get to that core).

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