Wisconsin’s ‘Herd Immunity’ festival is scientific proof that there’s no cure for idiot

It's a very bad idea, and tells us three things about the return to live music, America's approach to the virus and, yes, general human idiocy

It’s almost impressive that with everything 2020 has thrown at us so far, it still seems to have limitless reserves of curveballs – curveballs which comprise a squashed together amalgam of idiocy and human excrement – to lob at us from various directions, all of them hitting us squarely in the face. This is, I think, a fitting description of the so-called ‘Herd Immunity’ festival, held in Ringle, Wisconsin this weekend.

There’s a strong argument that we as a species deserve it – if you go for a dance in no-man’s land wearing a fluorescent jump suit and singing ‘tra-l’la-l’la, you can’t get me!’, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you get pelted with life threatening projectiles from multiple directions. There are still plenty of people who are willing to die on the hill of stupid, and, at time of writing, there is no known cure for this.

One particular country that seems to have leant into the kamikaze philosophy, is outgoing world superpower the United States. Not only has their richest state (California) just been forced back into lockdown, but their President – an overfilled colostomy bag wearing a red tie – has only just started to wear a face mask, though according to the man himself (and I use the term ‘man’ loosely), he’s always worn a face mask… in fact, he invented them.

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For a nation that’s still probably somewhere near the peak of the outbreak, the US is in a mad rush to open up again quickly – well, never really properly shut down. It’s only fitting then, that it is in this country – the petri dish of the free – that almost every stupid move that led them to being number one in the world for Covid-related deaths (does Trump think he’s winning something?) should be brought together in one big celebration. And guys, it’s actually happening – the Wisconsin shindig kicked off yesterday.

This Static X-featuring dolt-fest, which makes the organisers of Fyre Festival seem astute, might not have drawn so much attention worldwide had it not initially been called ‘Herd Immunity Fest’ (the name was changed to July Mini Fest when a band dropped out in protest). That’s right – they’re donning those fluorescent jumpsuits and goading a pandemic to come at them with everything it’s got. Promoters surprised everyone by using words consisting of more than one syllable for a statement: “We are only selling 20% of [capacity] so anyone has the choice and ability to social distance.”

What we have here, then, is an experiment with two many facets. The first is an analysis of general human stupidity. For quite a few years now, our species has not acquitted itself well in this department, and I have previously speculated that this virus has been one cosmic ‘sending us to our room to think about our behaviour’. Just like a grounding; we’re are being allowed out again with certain restrictions, with the understanding that we’ve learned our lesson. We haven’t. We’re back in the bus shelter spliffing up.

The second is a scaled-down version of the American reaction. It’s as if the organisers have been given the homework of constructing a realistic diorama of their own country – a country that seems to view believing in the virus as subjective as believing in God. Maybe if they shoot at it and say the word ‘freedom’ enough, it’ll go back to its own country?

The third is a test of the reintroduction of live music. As we know, all over the world, festivals have been cancelled, gigs postponed, tickets refunded. The live music world is in freefall, and venues are under threat. Everyone is simultaneously scared for the future and raring to get out there again. Mostly though, the industry has been a picture of caution – The Big Moon have just delayed their autumn (yes – autumn) tour until next spring. Even the drive-in gigs featuring bands such as The Streets, Dizzee Rascal, and Wiley, which were planned for August, have been cancelled for fear of new lockdowns and human stupidity.

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You may have gleaned from this that I think this festival is a bad idea. But the sad thing is that, although I would have been shocked to hear about something like this even a year ago, yesterday it was met with nothing more than a sigh and a shrug. In a way, we can’t blame them. If our leaders are showing zero restraint (or leadership), sending mixed messages about where we can go, what we can do, who we can see and where we should and shouldn’t wear a face mask, then feeling our way seems like the best option. After all, didn’t Michael ‘no such thing as experts’ Gove say only the other day “I trust people’s good sense”?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go for a drive – my eyes are a bit blurry and I’m scared that I won’t be able to see my good sense for much longer.

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