NEWS BLOG: Rochester’s fights are a hit on YouTube

BY TIM LOUIS MACALUSO

Rochester is known for many things –Kodak, lilacs, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass, for starters.

But go to YouTube.com and type in a search for Rochester, NY, and you’ll see that Rochester is popular with viewers for something else: teen fights.

The second group of videos the search will offer is titled “Rochester fights.” Click it and you’ll see about a dozen 2- to 6-minute videos of young Rochester teens, mostly African-American and Hispanic boys, going at it.

The videos are disturbing on many levels. The language is raw, and the violence is so senseless that it’s hard to believe what you’re seeing. In one video, kids are seen viciously kicking someone who is down on the ground. In another, a crowd cheers as one kid’s punch sends his opponent flying a few feet. Some of the clips have thousands of hits, and even though the fights break out between young people, some videos show adults being casual observers.

The fighting has even attracted two young teens who have made a comic parody of the mayhem, posting their own mock fight video.

But it’s hard to find the humor in any of these videos. They seem to document a Clockwork Orange-like breakdown in civility.

It’s hard to imagine a college offering acceptance or a company offering employment to a teen seen in some of these videos. Their behavior defies easy explanation, and the risk of inviting violence into the workplace or the campus is bound to be a concern for many officials.

It’s hard to know what the videos say about Rochester and our youth. We all know young people get into fights. Maybe we’re seeing teenage impulses intersect with the age of new media, where almost anything can be recorded and broadcast.

But it seems like we’re watching something much worse.

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