In Australia, hardly anyone has "just a few drinks”. In 2008, former prime minister Kevin Rudd launched a $53 million (£28.5 million) campaign to tackle what he called a “binge drinking epidemic”, but the country's brutal boozing habits have continued to this day. In recent years, a series of alcohol-fuelled tragedies in Sydney have put the nation's drinking culture in a grisly light. But even that hasn't been enough to change the culture – Australians seemingly just can’t give up on getting shitfaced.
So it's probably unsurprising that young Australians have come up with creative ways to get wasted and tell the internet that they're getting wasted, which is what "neknominations" are all about. In its simplest form, a neknomination is the act of necking a beer and nominating someone to match your feat. And just as the one-up mentality made the selfie olympics a thing, social media has fuelled some ridiculous neknominations and encouraged people (mostly young people, for obvious reasons) across the globe to participate.
The centre of the neknomination culture is the Best Neknominate Video's (sic) Facebook page, which posts bizarre videos that are an inspiration to creative drunks everywhere and has amassed over 175,000 followers since the 7th of January. I caught up with the man behind the page, Jay Anthony, to find out how this all came about.
VICE: Who created neknomination?
Jay Anthony: A group of guys in Scotch college in Western Australia. One of them skulled a beer and said to his mate, “You’re next." It became a trend, and then when my page went up it kind of snowballed. It moved through Australia, then New Zealand, and now it's even gaining traction in Europe.
What led you to make the page?
It already had some momentum in my circles. I realised it was pretty catchy, so I wanted to make a place to share the most innovative videos. I’ve got a fairly large amount of social media contacts, which helped get things rolling. I made it clear on the page that I’m against any video that exhibits animal cruelty, drunk driving and violence. I wanted to create a platform where neknominaters can congregate.
What are some of the weirder videos you've seen?
I saw a video of this one guy who skulled a beer upside down from inside a toilet bowl. And not that I condone it, but there’s this one Welsh dude who bit a baby chicken's head off. There’s an abundance of weirdness to choose from.
From what I've read, it seems like the fad is receiving some attention from the authorities.
That’s correct. There was one guy who was driving and skulling a beer. He got some attention from the local police, and – surprise, surprise – he got arrested. Then there’s one that was uploaded today that made it onto the local news – it involves two guys, a Ferrari and a helicopter. I believe the aviation authorities are looking to suspend the bloke's license.
Do you think binge drinking is a greater threat in Australia than the rest of the world?
No. We may have a slightly higher percentage of binge drinkers, and it probably does need to be addressed a little better. But people get white-girl wasted all over the world. It’s a threat wherever you go. Also, the drinking culture in Australia is pretty unique. I mean, the media labelled our ex-prime minister Bob Hawke as a legend when he skulled a beer at a cricket match. Of course we’re going to vibe with a new drinking game!
How do you feel about the negative media coverage?
I understand where they’re coming from. They need to sell stories. Ultimately, though, we’re trying to keep it relatively responsible. If we can cut down on the dangerous content, then the media will lay off our backs a bit.
Planking killed at least one person, and that was pretty much just lying down flat somewhere. I feel like there’s more room for error in neknominations.
We obviously never ever want that to happen. I want to emphasise the safety factor – the people who died from planking did it from irresponsible heights. I didn’t start this movement, but I encourage responsible neknominations. Innovation should be the driving force.
Where do you see things going from here? Are we looking at neknom apparel? Licensing? Customised liquor?
In due time. The official website is coming in a day or two – it’s called bestneknoms.com. We’re also speaking with sponsors at the moment to hook up our best videos with prizes, which gives those posting a bigger incentive.
Well that's good to hear. Thanks, Jay.
More stuff about drinking:
WATCH – Cornershop Cocktails