In the 1968 American cult classic Wild In The Streets, disenchanted youth are motivated to take over the nation’s streets as rock singer Max Frost is swept to the Presidency on a platform of reducing the voting age to 15. Once in power he further reduces that age to 14 and makes 30 the mandatory retirement age. Anybody over 35 is dispatched to a re-education gulag and permanently dosed on LSD.
It’s a scenario mocked as ludicrous and outrageous when the movie was first released but almost a half century later, and on the heels of the meanest Federal budget in decades, we have to ask – could it happen here? With massive cuts to education and health and the prospect of being penniless if you are booted off the dole, it’s the current teen generation who should be thinking seriously about their future in the decade to come.
Whilst we are not advocating the kind of street turmoil witnessed in The Arab Spring, we would love to see a political mobilisation of Australian teens and a genuine demand for the voting age to be dramatically lowered. We are sceptical about rock stars aspiring to Federal Parliament but maybe Aussie youth do need a Max Frost (or Maxine Frost) messiah to champion their cause.
It might sound bizarre but why not select this potential leader with an Australian Idol/The Voice-style talent contest? Where teenage contestants would be assessed on their political acumen as well as their vocal prowess. The process would at least be democratic, with a popular vote (restricted to the under 20s) deciding the winner. And please note – SBS or the ABC would need to host the series to keep Kyle Sandilands off the judging panel.
Once the new teen leader was chosen, a bill would be introduced by the Greens to lower the voting age to at least 15 followed by mass rock festival-style rallies across the country to support the proposal. Finally, with the support of Clive Palmer and a reluctant ALP the bill would sweep through the Senate. Freshly franchised teams would flock to voting stations at the next election and the Coalition conservatives would be thoroughly trumped.
Whether anybody over 35 should be dispatched to a re-education gulag or permanently dosed on LSD, like in the movie, remains to be seen, but the retirement age would definitely be pegged at 30 and made compulsory. This would end the political careers of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey and leave LNP’s Wyatt Roy as the only remaining member of the old Parliament.
In the original movie Max Frost and his cronies go on to create an almost utopian, albeit youthfully hedonistic society, that soon spreads throughout the world. The only sour note is the hint that future intergenerational warfare is looming on the not-too-distant horizon from an unexpected source – children of 10 years and younger!