WAM's Aarom Wilson discusses an unprovoked assault that left him hospitalised
WAM’s Marketing & Communications Officer, band manager (KUČKA and Scalphunter) and ex-Editor of The Music Perth, Aarom Wilson writes exclusively for The Music about an unprovoked assault hours after the annual WAM Festival Saturday Spectacular had come to a glorious close last weekend, leaving him hospitalised.
So late last Sunday morn I went to a late night bar with some friends to have a few drinks celebrating what an epic WAM Festival Saturday Spectacular had just played out. Then just before 4am I swung by a kebab store on way home to ensure I had enough sustenance to get through the fourth day of WAM Festin'. Some guys started hassling me for no known reason other than appearances. Somewhat used to such base targeting, I gave them an innocuous serving of 'whatever'. Unfortunately they decided to follow me and serve up the ol' one punch to the back of the head number, as made famous in recent times by oft sensationalised media coverage. This landed me face first into the pavement and unconscious, awakening in an ambulance and wondering why instead of tasting kebab-goodness in my mouth, I had only broken teeth and blood. Now that the head's becoming cleared, but the body is too embarrassingly beaten to venture outside, I've spent some time thinking about what the experience has taught me…
So how did this occur? Well, seeing as fellow journo Travis Johnson was also assaulted that same night, perhaps there was a thugs' revolt against scathing reviews… Or maybe they were annoyed the jalapenos had run out (essential for an A+ kebab experience)… More likely though, I'm putting this down firstly to intolerance. I can't go into details as the investigation is still happening, but let's say this attack party didn't consist of Australian middle class stereotypes of well-educated, well-to-do Caucasian males. I'm guessing the perpetrators themselves have been victims of their (un)fair share of racism, received abuse and negative stereotyping before. So for them to immediately be hassling me when I walked in, with no beef directed towards them, I'm guessing it's their own angst against society's treatment of them that's ironically caused them to treat me in just the same way – identifying me as someone different from the norm, most likely because of my hair.
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Whilst finally getting over flabbergast phase over what could possibly make random strangers decide in a matter of seconds to beat the living daylights out of someone they didn't like the cut of their jib, the next logical lesson progression that permeated from this situation was that people are different, and we need to embrace these differences. How boring a world it would be if everybody looked, acted and spoke the same! Yet always wars are about differences. I'm not justifying these low life douchebags' actions in any way, but the sad truth is that perhaps it was the very society that was first to criticise them so harshly that may have actually created them in the first place. Their place in society as minorities likely resulted in these actions. So there are more people to blame than them, but blaming will never solve anything, so let's just celebrate our differences and start peace-ing the world back together again.
Whilst sounding all hippy and shit… My, er, 'unique' hairstyle may well have been the reason why the guys picked on me in the first place (though the reasons are still unclear), but the dreadlocks also no doubt saved me from more serious damage as they softened the impact of the blow. When I finally cut it, I've now vowed to make a protective helmet. And hit the go carts, fearlessly.
This experience radiates the need for greater education about what long-standing effects these kinds of actions can have are essential. It concerns me that for such a thoughtless act, these guys could spend time in jail, which is unlikely to do much positive for them, instead probably just generating more anger towards society. I'm extremely lucky to come out relatively unscathed in comparison to many one-punch attacks, but, either way, I'd still be advocating education of these youths all the way. These issues start in the playground, and predictably often the perpetrators are those who suffered abuse, vilification or psychological mistreatment when young, so these are issues as a whole that society needs to hit head on, in perhaps the words of the rather inspirational Danny Green. That dude deserves some funding to further his cause, as he punches in a way that's going to have far more impact on these sorts of criminals in the making than some ex-journo hack…
I've been out pretty much every Friday and Saturday for almost 20 years and never witnessed any unprovoked violence at a venue where people are specifically there for the music. WAM Festival had over 10,000 or so music lovers going off with not a single problem over the four days that weekend, providing more evidence that with increased live music and music specific events this city could be a better, safer place. Why the authorities impose such strict live music laws is beyond me. Who in their right mind want to fight when mid dancefloor move? Open the city to more music-based events and violence within these venues will surely be minimized. And as long as there are ways for people to get home and not be left bored and frustrated on the streets, violence overall will be greatly reduced. Thanks to Uber in this respect, I feel they've helped this issue on the streets.
Still in a concussion haze, I agreed to do an interview with Channel 7 News. Surprise, surprise, it resulted in a 'story' that contained NO news angles. It was one of the top bulletin stories, an exclusive, yet was just a simple reporting of a man that "got bashed." It completely avoided any of the opinions on society, culture etc I offered in half an hour of being interviewed, all whilst nursing a headache and experiencing pain every time I moved my mouth. As a journo, I'm already well aware of many of mainstream media's puffy coverage tactics, and that the selection of detail would be miniscule. But seriously, there wasn't a single interesting detail selected, let alone anangle. I should have known better (I'm blaming the concussion), but I did the interview as thought C7 News was a great platform to reach the masses that most need to hear such opinions, and have preconceptions challenged. But instead it was just another 'Going out is bad / nightclubbing is dangerous / the kids are out of control' story. In doing so, they only reinforced negative and misinformed stereotypes, and only continued to perpetuate the same problems. Take some responsibility media, and start trying to make a difference!
Just to re-iterate, this had nothing to do with WAM Festival. This was a random senseless act of idiocy that would have been difficult to have occurred during the good times that took over Perth for easily our best #WAMFest ever. Pretty proud of what the team achieved, my hats off particularly to the legendary coordinating efforts of Claire Hodgson and Greg Sanders. I may have been passed out for 25% of it, but from what I saw combined with all the wamazing feedback we've received, WAM Festival 2015 really stepped it up and exceeded all my hype. And as their Marketing & Communications person, I put a lot of hype out there. So it was superb for it to be justified, and then some! Thanks to all the incredible music-loving, non-violent peeps who celebrated WA music last week! Has made me smile ever since. Which is fucking annoying as it hurts like hell… xx