Australia is in the grips of a public health crisis and warehouse parties are to blame. Or at least, that’s what the ABC wants you to think.
The humble nitrous oxide bulb — also affectionately known as a nang, whippet or bulb — was the subject of no less than three stories by the ABC yesterday. For those unfamiliar, nitrous oxide is an anaesthetic commonly used by dentists and available commercially for use making whipped cream; inhaling the gas results in a 20-second high. They’re sold freely at supermarkets and corner stores.
Most injuries from gas bulbs use largely stem from people falling over under the influence or damaging their lungs by trying to inhale the compressed gas. But according to the ABC, recreational use of nangs is “back with a vengeance” and “a critical public health concern” that’s causing nerve and brain damage in users.
In a report aired on 7.30 and an accompanying online article, the ABC fearlessly broke the news that nangs aren’t actually good for you (who’da thunk it?) — featuring the story of a student who sustained nerve damage from inhaling 360 nangs a week (?!), and interviewing a doctor about on 20-year-old patient whose brain had “the same level of damage as an alcoholic who had been drinking for 40 years”.
They report that nang use has spiked over the last two years and that the Westmead Hospital’s Poisons Information Centre has seen a “doubling” in calls relating to nitrous oxide exposure. Nangs can cause death, but the ABC concede it’s rare — since 2010 there have only been two recorded deaths from recreational nitrous oxide use in Australia.
To really drive the hysteria home, the ABC also ran a story infiltrating a recent warehouse party from techno savants Motorik.
The reporter described seeing party-goers suck nitrous oxide out of balloons — a sight so shocking the ABC contacted Motorik head honcho and former Bang Gang identity Angus Gruzman for comment. The response they got back will go down as one of the greatest moments in local dance music history: “Have a nice life you loser,” Gruzman replied.
Unsurprisingly, the internet’s reaction to the ABC’s reports has been pretty much this:
this quote makes nangs seem much much better than they actually are pic.twitter.com/yctkFacbS6
— j.r. hennessy (@jrhennessy) October 16, 2017
the abc discovering nangs is literally the funniest thing that’s happened all year https://t.co/drRx80YmtQ
— maddison connaughton (@madconnaughton) October 17, 2017
Of course, this isn’t the first time the mainstream media has tried to whip up hysteria over nang use. In 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that nitrous oxide use was “on the rise”. Then Channel 7 branded it the “frightening” new drug craze at dance parties and music festivals.
You can probably expect this moral panic to resurface in another couple of years — until then, call us when this country decides to do something about pill testing.