Johnny Moore: Boy racers or stupid kids?

JOHNNY MOORE
Last updated 06:00 09/01/2014

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Johnny Moore

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OPINION: In big news the New Normal is becoming like the Old Normal.

As the hysterical tone of earthquake news begins to ramp-down, reports of no-good boy racers are on the rise.

In December they were mooning helpless residents and setting fire to the hills. Now after being sighted at various Facebook-shared parties over the break they have outdone themselves by crashing a stolen car on Bealey Ave.

Who are these mysterious boys and why do they never grow up? Or is "boy racer" just another dumb label for stupid kids?

If you asked me to define "boy racer", I would probably say a young bloke driving a hopped-up Japanese car. But this doesn't seem to be the case, as evidenced by the label being attached to some muppet who stole a Volvo.

Add to this the fact that most cars stolen are more than 10 years old and it's not just a Volvo, but probably an old Volvo. Hardly The Fast and the Furious. More like the Safe and the Dependable.

But somebody slaps the label on and before we know it we're being told about all the trouble these rascals have been up to.

Have we learned nothing about placing inaccurate labels on young people? I'm a car enthusiast - one of the highlights of my life was driving a 750HP car around Christchurch one afternoon - but I'm pretty sure I'm not a boy racer.

Or what about the middle-aged blokes getting around in hopped-up Holdens and Fords? These cars tick all the obnoxiousness boxes but I wouldn't think you'd call their drivers boy racers.

How about "hot rodders"? They've been gleefully losing traction since the 1950s; nobody would dare label them as boys.

If you're young, however, it seems it's not what you're driving, it's your age that defines you. Thus, some moron in a stolen Volvo is suddenly a boy racer. I'd think the only reason to steal a Volvo would be to ensure you can drive your kids to school in a safe and orderly manner.

As a nation we are obsessed with putting young people into boxes and the more you tell someone they're are a menace to society, the more of a menace they become.

So while I'm not defending dropkicks who hassle people on the outskirts of town with their wheelspins and Woody drinking, I'm hoping that we can see the problem for what it is and look at ways to turn it into something positive.

It wasn't so long ago that skateboarders were the biggest troublemakers in the city. But by working with them to create a positive solution, we now have a healthy skate culture and public animosity to skateboarding seems to have dissipated.

For reframing of an old problem, look no further than the Rise street art festival on at Canterbury Museum at the moment.

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What was once an issue that provoked many angry calls to talkback has been repositioned in a positive light. People were lining up to see the show over the past few weeks.

We just need to find a way to look at young people and the car culture around them and make it as safe and fun as possible for everyone. Who knows? Maybe in the future we will be looking at different burnouts mounted on a gallery wall and calling it art.

- The Press

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