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The link between metal and violence needs to be broken (an essay)

Discussion in 'General Metal Discussion' started by Brutally Brutal, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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    Since its inception, metal music has been closely associated with violence and since then crimes have been related to or blamed on the aggressive genre. Some artists promote this unfortunate by-product of metal, instead of the genre’s power to release violent urges which would otherwise be manifested in real life. Music does not simply make people violent, yet metal, video games, and movies are easy scapegoats for atrocious acts committed by sick persons. In the case of a great deal of metal, most listeners cannot even decipher the lyrics, let alone act upon the images. The words and actions of the artists themselves are much more powerful, and unfortunately some metal artists are completely and totally deranged. Metal is a powerful outlet for many fans who never commit an act of violence, and it must be separated from the satanic and violent aspects that are wrongly associated with it.

    Metal fans being pinned as violent individuals is ironic because in countries like Iraq fans of metal have been persecuted just for their music tastes. Metal serves these people as a healthy outlet for aggression just as it does for the countless fans across the world in societies that are more accepting of the subculture. The lead singer of an Iraqi metal band called Brutal Impact explained to a USA Today reporter, “The youth in Iraq are searching for some way to release their anger, their sadness, and heavy metal is the only way for them to do that”. The Iraqi youths find solace and an outlet for their aggression in metal, so much so that they refuse to hide it regardless of the implications it might have. The Iraqi fans are targeted by both Sunni and Shiite groups because of the typical metal fan’s standard black t-shirt and scruffy facial hair (USA Today). Fans of the genre in western nations take the ability to utilize the therapeutic qualities of metal for granted, but youths in other countries are not as privileged. Lucky for American metal fans, there is no need to flee from anything other than the scornful prejudicial associations of violence and Satanism.

    Despite the constant negative press coverage and use as a scapegoat in horrendous crimes, metal provides a healthy medium of expression for youths around the world. In a recently released documentary entitled Global Metal by anthropologist turned documentary filmmaker Sam Dunn, underground scenes across the world are explored. These tight-knit communities exist in highly surprising countries with oppressive regimes and constant danger like China, Indonesia, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. In the case of the Muslim countries Iran, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, metal fans are under constant attack by religious police who will detain them, beat them, and shave their heads without charging them with a crime. Metal is seen as sacrilegious, “anti-moralistic”, and subversive and thus its fans are treated as outcasts and are prohibited from purchasing any metal CDs or T-Shirts. Despite the absurdly strict treatment they receive solely based on their music tastes, these fans find solace and release in the great tension relieving power of metal. One Saudi Arabian fan explains, “When you have tough times, which, in our country are not so scarce, it’s a relief for you” (Global Metal). In these countries it also serves as a way for the youths to speak out against their oppressive governments, another Saudi fan says, “You wanna speak out and there are not as many outlets as there should be to do this. We’ve found this in metal” (Global Metal). Regardless of the positive benefits that it has for these young men and women, their societies as well as ours will continue to view metal with disgust.

    Regardless of the positive role metal plays in the majority of the genre’s fans’ lives, there are those few individuals who direct the media’s attention toward the negative aspects. This makes it much easier for opponents of the genre to claim that metal motivates its listener to kill, while ignoring the fact that no studies “have ever found solid evidence correlating violent actions with interest in music that has violent themes” (qtd. In Purcell 138). Yet people still find the need to have an external influence to blame criminal acts on, as evidenced when a group of black metal fans in England went on a church and graveyard vandalism spree. The incident garnered a plethora of media attention, and a former exorcist and friend of the leader’s mother, Reverend John Banner, blames their delinquent actions on the music: “I have no doubt the Black Metal and Death Music and its teachings is 95 percent to blame for this” (Moynihan and Soderlind 320). There was a strong backlash against the black metal scene in the United Kingdom, and many were calling for it to be banned as a whole. In fact, the four vandals were directly inspired by an article printed in Kerrang! Magazine not the music itself. In it Varg Vikernes, a black metal musician from Norway who was incarcerated for murder and the arson of churches said, “If these people claim to be influenced by me, then that’s fine” (qtd. in Moynihan and Soderlind 318). Once again it is one severely disturbed individual who influenced a very small number of similarly disturbed persons, not the music.

    Varg Vikernes is the perfect exemplar of the insane individuals who are drawn to metal and eventually commit horrific acts which are then inseparable from the music itself. Vikernes participated in burning down some of Norway’s greatest architectural and religious relics, all in the name of “work[ing] against all these organized religions that were in Norway – Chrisitanity and also the new ones like Islam” (Moynihan and Soderlind 71). He is simply a psychopath who loathes everything that embodies happiness, beauty and love. But Vikernes was not alone in his home country in Norway, there were plenty of other angst filled youths waiting to join the ranks of their so called “Satanic Terrorist” (Moynihan and Soderlind 100) group. Vikernes was obviously aware of his possible influence on the young fans of the black metal scene when he commented, “We convert the souls of kids with our music” (Moynihan and Soderlind 100). He is in the very small minority of metal artists who promote acts of violence or vandalism, and are bolstered by the knowledge of their occurrence. Bands like Venom and Slayer use Satanism as a gimmick as well as for its scare value (The Abyss), but these fans deliberately ignored any entertainment value and took it as gospel. This is not the fault of the musicians, or the music they create; these sick individuals are to blame for their actions, and no one else.

    It is truly a shame that the radical beliefs of a small minority of metal artists and fans have tarnished all of the extremely varied sub-genres that fall under the metal umbrella. There are a staggering number of metal artists who’s lyrics do not touch the occult realms of Satanism or the brutal violent imagery so often associated metal, especially the death metal sub-genre. In fact, one of the largest and most popular metal labels, Solid State Records, signs only Christian bands, or bands with Christian members who promote positive music. To the untrained ear this music might sound equally as aggressive and extreme as death or black metal, but in fact it is usually very spiritual and emotional. One band that is signed to Solid State called August Burns Red has a prayer circle backstage before they go out to perform in front of a room full of expectant Christian and non-Christian fans. On the Solid State Records web site they proclaim, “Solid State is home to the most important heavy bands with positive and creative artistic viewpoints operating in the scene today.” I cannot agree that they have the most important heavy bands, but they are definitely the vanguards of the positive heavy metal movement which is quickly gaining more followers every day. This incarnation of metal is especially important because it draws in fans from every background by not excluding Christian listeners with Satanic or absurdly violent imagery.

    Blaming violence and suicide on metal is easy, but it is only a scapegoat that distracts from the real issues that cause these acts: psychological disorders and the countless violent acts portrayed in the media every single day. I personally do not believe that video games can lead to violent behavior, but how could listening to a song incite more violence than controlling a character in a near-perfect model of the real world in which you slaughter and steal freely? This is so obvious to me and to many metal fans, but somehow people continue to attempt to scapegoat society’s ills on a single genre of music. One female metal fan comments, “I am in a tiny minority of women, in a room full of men wearing black -- which should seem scary, but it totally isn't. The men hold doors open for me and apologize if they bash into me. They are basically really meek and polite” (CNN). So, why does mainstream media along with the help of parents and religious officials continue this false social stigma? It is because it is much easier to blame one’s child’s horrendous actions on a particular band rather than factors like their upbringing and mental health.
    As a metal fan and a completely sane individual, I find it painfully obvious that metal produces much more peace in the world than it does violence. Unfortunately for the genre and its fans, it is still viewed by some to cause the crimes committed by the small minority of listeners. Fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and totalitarian regimes like that in China continue to see the music and its fans as dangers to society. David W. Cloud of the Fundamentalist Baptist Information Service believes that metal, and all rock for that matter is detrimental to society, and he writes, “The fact is that Rock corrupts. Rock injures. Rock maims. Rock kills” (Way of Life). A female metal fan quoted in a local Alabama CBS news article would strongly disagree with Cloud. She quite correctly states, “If you’re a violent person, it doesn’t matter. You could listen to Barry Manilow and go beat somebody’s ass” (CBS). The fact of the matter is that persons who are going to commit violent acts might be attracted to the more brutal genres of metal, but all the rest of the fans of the same genres will carry on normal, healthy lives. Metal should serve as a scapegoat for society’s ills no longer, and instead individuals need to take responsibility for their actions.

    Violence will always exist in this world, and there are a plethora of possible scapegoats for this sad truth, the least valid of which is metal music. Metal inspires violence no more than turning on the nightly news and watching the countless reports of brutal crimes. It allows the listeners to experience feelings that would otherwise only be available through actually committing acts of violence. Metal provides community and a creative outlet for feelings of rage, allowing its listeners to be healthy, productive members of society. The false attribution of violent actions to aggressive music needs to be stopped, and people need to realize that violence is caused by the psychological problems of the individuals who commit the crimes.
     
  2. The Ozzman

    The Ozzman Melted by feels

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  3. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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  4. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus Tyrants and Slaves

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    Good paper. I completely agree with the argument that violent music can attract violent individuals, not that the music itself makes them violent.
     
  5. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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    Thanks. Well I got an A, and it makes me want to start integrating my major (Psychology/English) with one of my greatest interests (metal, obviously). It is such an interesting subculture that is so tight knit yet pictured as a group of insane individuals who all wallow in death and suffering of innocent peoples.
     
  6. Tonka Time

    Tonka Time Guest

    Call me retarded, but i like that there are violent individuals/people with radical beliefs within metal.in a way it makes it more interesting.

    good paper.
     
  7. Manic Ferocity

    Manic Ferocity Active Member

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    ^

    I honestly agree with this. No matter what happens they can't take away freedom of speech so I could care less what the minority of metal musicians do on their free time.
     
  8. Donnie Darko

    Donnie Darko Destroyer of False Metal

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    very well written
     
  9. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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    Thanks :)
     
  10. XSASweet

    XSASweet Member

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    good read, where's the article with the female fan? link?
     
  11. no country for old wainds

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    whilst i agree that metal is used wrongfully as a scapegoat and that if anything it probably prevents violence more than it causes it, i also think most of the people who discriminate against metal have ulterior motives for doing so (i.e. it is an affront to normality, dishonesty, passivity etc, both in terms of musical experience and subculture), and even if it was somehow proven to lower levels of violence such discrimination would still widely occur. people grab at whatever ammo is handy in order to serve their own agendas, and metal is by nature in conflict with most of those agendas, even though this conflict usually does not manifest in physical form.
     
  12. Vegard Pompey

    Vegard Pompey ALLY TO GOOD, NIGHTMARE TO YOU

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    It was probably a good paper, didn't read the whole thing.

    Anyone who seriously believes metal is responsible for violence and such is just a moron, though. But like billy, I don't mind that there are violent individuals with radical beliefs, one of the cool things about metal is that it's a medium where you can express just about anything.
     
  13. challenge_everything

    challenge_everything Active Member

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    Generally a good article, although there has been plenty of research looking at links between violence and particular forms of art. It would have made for a stronger argument if more of these had been cited (I think the one by Purcell was the only one cited).

    Plus it contains some unsupported assertions. To name one, the comment that Vikernes is "a psychopath who loathes everything that embodies happiness, beauty and love" is at best a trite and unsubstantiated allegation and at worst, factually incorrect. Having read some things written by Vikernes, I doubt he is insane and he certainly does not loathe everything that embodies happiness, beauty and love (he wants to get out of prison to see his family for example).
     
  14. supseudonymous

    supseudonymous &

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    What and where do you teach?
     
  15. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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    Read Lords of Chaos. How can you not think he is insane? He fucking mailed an Israeli black metal band a bomb because they wrote a song about the holocaust. Right before he was going to be paroled, he broke out of jail, raided a military barracks, and then was pulled over with a car full of assault rifles, laptop, gps, explosives, etc. He obviously doesn't give a shit about getting out of prison to visit his family.
     
  16. Brutally Brutal

    Brutally Brutal New Metal Member

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    He fits all the clinical criteria of a psychopath, thus why I used the clinical nomenclature.

    Oh, and the quote from the female fan is from this:
    http://www.cbs42.com/news/local/18952904.html
    or this:
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/09/metal.violence/index.html

    I'm pretty sure its the CBS one, but its early and I'm running off to class so I can't double check.
     
  17. SheisMySin

    SheisMySin Member

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    Pretty hilarious essy when you think it was written by "Brutally Brutal" who has a burning house as his avatar. lol

    Not ironic at all!
     
  18. just metal

    just metal Member

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  19. Portrait_of_Death

    Portrait_of_Death New Metal Member

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  20. challenge_everything

    challenge_everything Active Member

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    This is all consistent with extreme political views rather than insanity, and insanity was never run as a defence to his crimes. And don't take Lords of Chaos as gospel.
     

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