Over the past several months, my Facebook feed has been punctuated with many sharing, signing and liking the “Petition to Save the Palace”; Melbourne’s on-going fight to prevent one of the city’s iconic rock n’ roll venues from turning into a luxury hotel. Like most, I’m in the general category of those who wish to see The Palace continue on as a great place for rock n’ roll heathens. However, as I suspected, the collective of keyboard warriors and e-protesters continue to do what I’ve long been against; doing a lot of shouting and talking on the internet without actually doing anything worthwhile about it.
TheMusic.com.au reported yesterday the rally to “save the Palace”, held on a sunny Saturday afternoon, drew “between 500 and 1,000 people” (how vague) after the well-meaning organizers aimed for close to 30,000. A paltry sum in reality isn’t it? There are more than 30,000 “likes” to their Facebook page and over 25,000 people have “signed” their e-petition, but less than 1000 people showed to actually try and do something about it? (And let’s face it, when organizers say between 500-1000 people show up to their even, it’s more than likely closer to 500 than 1000).
We’ve seen this before of course, on a much larger scale. In the recent Australian elections, I was constantly bombarded with pseudo political Facebook rants, silly memes and links to petitions and protests in fear of a Government’s inevitable rise to power. The conclusion? Let’s just say their politicking seemed to dry up as soon as the election results were in. Did they continue on their fight and actually go out there and do anything? I’m not even sure half of them actually voted, and during the times of their loudest protests, could not string together valid and tangible reasons as to why their supposed “preferred party” would be the best to lead the country outside of marginal debates.
This, like much of Generation Now’s inability to translate internet gasbagging to actual tangible results is very much part of the problem. I asked a few of my friends who I know signed the petition whether they went to the rally and I was met with a mix of results that included,
“I didn’t know it was on”
“I wanted to but my girlfriend/boyfriend had something on in the park and it was such a nice day”
I don’t have working answers to save the Palace but I know that signing stupid online petitions and liking Facebook pages won’t do the trick. Heck, just showing up in person to an actual event may at least be worth something. And after perusing the Save The Palace website, it doesn’t appear that the organizers have a plan either. Perhaps we should rename ‘Save The Palace’ to ‘Organize the Save The Palace Rally’?
The Palace is a great place and on many occasions I’ve spent nights in the pit, soaked in booze and sweat being serenaded by my favorite bands. I’ve been backstage for shows I’ve been part of organizing and believe the venue is worth saving. Just as long as the people who are trying to save it know what they’re doing. If the venue is saved, I’ll be happy for those involved, but if the Palace ends up being a fancy hotel, I won’t be fussed. Everything has their time and place and in the tangible world and it all comes to an end. If you don’t have the money and resources, then you’re only going to go so far.
Unfortunately for The Palace, the people trying to save it have to try and coral a group of individuals who tend to be furious with their words, but in practice and in action, go only as far as clicking the mouse.
In the end, it’ll take more than what these noble organizers are doing. It’ll take actual money, business acumen and real world thinking if the venue is to be saved. Developers don’t care about rock n’ roll history or art, they care about making money.
We’ll see what happens over the next few months, but don’t bet on The Palace being saved on the account of these people, no matter how noble their intentions are. Generation Now needs to know that you have to do more than sign an online petition or like a Facebook page to activate change in reality. And that’s too bad for the venue, which may soon end up being a place of all talk, and no rock.