Violence is not about style

Recent youth clashes are being seen by many as a war of stylistic differences. The «cool» kids beating up on the «emos.» Next, we will embark on an analysis of each trend or the subculture to which each belongs. But this approach harbors many dangers. First, we begin by looking at violence as a matter of aesthetics, a lifestyle conflict. It is that, but only partly. It is like the clashes between hooligans that have sometimes even ended in death – and are not just about the color of one’s jersey. No 17-year-old living in Athens who has been witness to such incidents has any doubt about what to call those of his peers who attack emos with scissors and switchblades, hack away at their bangs and beat them in the face: They are bullies. Pure and simple. You may even hear something about the packs of semi-feral teenagers prowling neighborhoods on their noisy mopeds until a lone long-banged kid walks by. «What are you looking at?!» That’s how it begins, and sometimes it ends in a vicious beating. The pack mentality and senseless violence are characteristics of a youth that is full of rage, that lacks a smooth process of assimilation or passage into wider society. With schools degraded, a society that doles out hypocrisy and insecurity, a professional outlook that is limited to delivering pizzas or becoming a night watchman, with ideological hatred being vented on every Internet site, teenagers, and especially these semi-marginalized teenagers, are pushed to aggression, to blind competition, to the exclusion of all «others,» to forming packs within which they have an identity. Bullies, of course, have always been around. But in cases such as these beatings, in Glyfada and Syntagma, their pack mentality puts them on a par with the lumpen hooligans. Violence is not just a matter of aesthetics.