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 genres 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 fans 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, its 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. Weve 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 genres fans lives, there are those few individuals who direct the medias 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 leaders 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 thats 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 Norways 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 whos 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 societys 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 ones childs 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 youre a violent person, it doesnt matter. You could listen to Barry Manilow and go beat somebodys 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 societys 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.