Before YouTube removed it earlier this week, most of the Phish community had seen a video of a Phish fan at SBIX under the influence of what appears to have been a psychoactive substance. The man was sitting cross-legged on the concert field during "Crosseyed and Painless," by himself, harming no one, and taking in the music. The person responsible for posting the video on the Internet also supplied some editorial commentary - which amounted to little more than speculation - about what was happening between the subject's ears.
I can only imagine that the purpose for posting the video was to mock and embarrass its subject, and perhaps rack up cred in the form of page views or subscribers. But I have to wonder whether the videographer considered that mockery and embarrassment may have been the least among many negative consequences this choice may have visited on his subject. What if the man's employer happened to watch the video? What if the man's significant other, or even children, happened to watch the video? It isn't hard to imagine a scenario in which seismic life consequences could have been visited on that man as a result of the videographer's decision to have a good laugh at his expense.
Let me concede this up front: nobody in 2011 has the right to expect that they can engage in any kind of unusual behavior in a random crowd of people and not wind up on YouTube. Posting a video of a stranger on YouTube is not a crime. That's the meta truth and the general context for this.
But what about at a Phish show?
How many people do you know who go to Phish shows because it's a place to feel free, and to cut loose, and to put normal workaday decorum in the fuck-it bucket for a few hours? Conversely, how many people look back on their favorite shows with a sense of gratitude that fans made sure to capture other fans engaged in behavior worthy of a little cheap ridicule? Who among us has more fun at a Phish show knowing that at any given time somebody might be capturing their behavior on film for posterity and broadcast?
This community, such as it is, has gone through plenty of ups and downs. There are factions within our subculture that don't always accord each other the utmost respect. But this candid camera bullshit - and it is worth noting that this is not the first such example - is beneath all of us. It is beneath what ought to be a common sense of dignity. None of us know the circumstances that led the man in that video to that captured moment, and many of us have moments very similar to it in our not-so-distant past. Most importantly, it bears repeating, he wasn't harming a soul.
If you can't bring yourself to respect that, at least find it within yourself to let it be.
Or stay home.
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August 19, 1992
25 years ago
Pima County Fairgrounds
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