There are no politics at IDentity Festival, only endless, nonstop logos and catchphrases. The actual term YOLO (“you only live once”) is only on a handful of T-shirts I spot, but it’s the guiding principle. Everyone seems to be trying to outdo everyone else in the “I don’t give a fuck” sweepstakes. That’s what teenagers do, of course—tell the world what utter bad-asses they are. These kids aren’t necessarily advertising their own wantonness so much as advertisingthat they’re advertisingtheir own wantonness. But the depth and degree of it is enough to make me queasy.
The operative word is RAGE. Two booths are set up to sell items with that phrase; others had it in their arsenal. Hundreds of kids parade the term; one shirt crosses the V out of RAVE and inserts a handwritten G. Is that what people are going to start calling these things now?
Maybe that’s the right word. Better that than the other words I see everywhere: SLUT, BITCH, WHORE. This crowd is mostly 14 to 18; there are some college kids, but not nearly as many as high schoolers (or junior-high schoolers). Seeing girls that age peacocking around with that stuff written on them is disorienting, and not just because my own rave years coincided with riot grrrl, where writing those words on the body was a form of radical rebellion. Here, in a sea of neon Daisy Dukes, it’s more like wearing a logo for the sake of being cool, because your clique at school will give you a hard time if you don’t. I feel sorry for all of them.