To describe the terror attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester as heartbreaking would be an understatement. No words could describe the atrocity of what has happened. How any human being could calculate a plan to target and murder a mass number of people, including such young, innocent children, is something that we will never be able to understand. We live in a world where a person can wake up one day and decide that today is the day they are going to take lives. To take childrens’ lives and futures away from them. To take children away from their parents. We live in a world where any sick fuck can take everything away from us at any time. It’s sick and it’s incomprehensible but it’s a fact.
Ariana’s fan base consists mostly of teenagers. The arena will have been filled with teenagers. Music plays such an important part in all of our lives at any age, it is with us consistently throughout our lives, but music for teenagers is vital. In our teenage years we are constantly looking for things to relate to as we are going through the confusing time of discovering who we are. Teenagers latch on to their favourite musicians whose words and voices are now, more than ever, accessible 24 hours a day thanks to social media and streaming apps such as Spotify. Their music can make them feel part of something and understood at times when they’ve never felt so alone or misunderstood. Pop Divas are often latched onto and have some of the largest, strongest followings of teenagers. As a teenager, I latched onto Britney Spears and Rihanna. For the current generation Ariana has proven to be an extremely popular choice.
Thinking back to my teenage years, all of my best memories were made at concerts and music festivals. The excitement of these events wasn’t just about music, it was about the freedom. Nothing provided me more joy than rushing home from school to secretly make a customised ‘I kissed a boy’ t-shirt, then meeting my friends at Lime Street to go get the train to Manchester for Katy Perry’s first tour. Leeds Festival 2010 remains the best week of my life. Concerts and festivals are the escape every teenager needs to step out from their parents’ shadows and go to these events with the people that they love to just be themselves and have fun. That’s all these events are meant to be. Fun. Music is made to bring people together.
This is what I don’t understand. Did this vile murderer attend the full concert? Did they stand in the audience alongside everyone else? Did they watch the joy on these innocent childrens’ faces and hear them sing? All the time knowing, they were about to take their lives, their joy and the joy of their loved ones away from them. I just don’t understand. How you could witness this and feel their energy and still carry out this unforgivable act? How could someone get to that point where they have absolutely no humanity or empathy left inside of them? It’s absolutely terrifying.
A lot of music snobs will only know Ariana as the girl with the ponytail who looks like a child trying to dress sexy and that she licked a doughnut that one time. To her fans she is so much more. Ariana and her music have a very simple message; a message of acceptance, empowerment, equality, liberation and love. Ariana is a strong, opinionated young woman who consistently uses her voice to call out bullshit. She attended the Women’s March in Washington. She paraded the LBGT flag on stage. She incorporated all forms of love in her music video for Everday. Yet, she is still often criticised for not being ‘the perfect feminist’. Who the fuck is? She is an activist in her own right and to many of the people who attended her concert last night she would have been a positive role model that brought them so much joy.
This tragedy is not about Ariana. The guilt she is probably feeling, due to drawing these innocent people into the place where they have so devastatingly lost their lives, cannot compare to the pain that the victims’ families will be going through. Or the pain of the survivors. Just to make it very clear, Ariana is in no way responsible for the tragedy. Full responsibility lies in one person and one person alone. However, people are still taking the opportunity to take a cheap, vile shot. Boston ‘journalist’, David Leavitt, saw it as the perfect time to tweet, “Last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too.”. Blinded by the opportunity to make fun of a woman, his tiny little mind probably didn’t even consider the victims, their families or the wounded survivors. Take a look at your surname David and fucking leave it. It’s not the time and it never will be.
It is however the time to do what we always have to do and do so well in these times. Unite. As of 9 minutes ago, people in Manchester have already donated enough blood for the victims of the attack. Taxi drivers turned off their metres after the attack to transport people to safety, free of charge. The people of Manchester opened their doors to the concert attenders. People on Facebook are frantically trying to reunite families through sharing their posts. Everyone is doing their best and that’s all we can do.
Unfortunately, we can’t rid the world of the vile people who commit these despicable acts and we can’t promise something like this will never happen again. But we also can’t live in fear. We’ve got to carry on doing the things that we love. Concerts, and their security, will obviously now change forever but we can’t not attend them out of fear. Just like we can’t avoid the London Underground forever. Or LBGT night clubs. Or Paris. We have got to carry on living. Living and remembering the 22 who had that opportunity stolen from them last night. Evil will always exist but so will love and strength.
Also, now is not the time to voice racist opinions. Keep them to yourselves. A time of fear does not make it acceptable to use a whole community as a scapegoat. Regardless of the race/gender/religion/sexuality, whatever this murderer may have been, they do not define every other member of the community that they may have belonged to.
Keep singing. Keep dancing. Keep living.
Missing People < click the link for a Telegraph article including details of missing people – Share.
Greater Manchester Police Emergency Hotline: 01618569400