Sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll: young people as consumers

Authored by: Mary Jane Kehily

Youth Justice Handbook

Print publication date:  October  2009
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9781843927174
eBook ISBN: 9781315820064
Adobe ISBN: 9781317821755


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‘Pint of lager, a whisky and an “E” please’ orders Lip as he beats a path to the bar after a little local difficulty in the domestic sphere. The young character in the Channel 4 series Shameless seeks solace in the pub where the bar staff supplement their income with a spot of in-house dealing. The routine drug use of working-class life, as represented in the television series, conjures up a scene in which alcohol and ecstasy can be ordered at the local as an everyday event of no great significance to the unfolding drama. On the Chatsworth Estate drink and drugs exist as an integral part of everyday life, illustrating in a beautifully excessive televisual performance the shock and humour generated by a sustained focus on the unrespectable poor. Narrating the opening sequence of the programme, central character Frank Gallagher chants: ‘Make poverty history – free drink and drugs now.’ Drugs and alcohol were, in his account, kindly invented to facilitate working-class life – to keep us all going and calm us all down. Drunk, high and father of nine, Frank is proud to announce that Chatsworth residents would ‘come on yer face for the price of a pint’.

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