Friday, September 15, 2006

What is offensive and what isn't?

The other day VH1 had another RockUmentary, this time entitled "Metal: a Headbangers Journey". This guy who was 13 in 1986, when Metal was actually accepted for a short time, grew up as a cultural anthropologist and decided to try and chronicle the Metal culture and to find an answer to the question, "Why is Heavy Metal music seen as evil by so many?"

A part of the film touched on the (in)famous Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), also known as the Washington Wives led by Tippy Gore. They wanted to ban some albums (big black vinyl things that came before CD's) and the vast majority of them were from the Metal genera. There were even hearings on Capitol Hill where various musicians came to testify. These included Frank Zappa, John Denver and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister (among others). The best part of these hearings, though, was how the musicians made fools of these idiots. Zappa was a passionate defender of the 1st Amendment. His arguments were rational (for him) and his knowledge quite extensive.

Dee came in dressed in full makeup, jeans and a t-shirt. This was also when he had his front two teeth filed down into points. The senators were expecting him to be a dumb, obscene psycho but he just ripped them a new one in a calm and eloquent way. He even made Al Gore all flustered when he was able to pretty much prove that Tippy had her mind in the gutter.

But the best of them all was John Denver. The committee brought him in expecting him to side with them and denounce this cursed music that was destroying our youth. Well, Mr. Denver lit into them like a righteous flame! Cutting down every argument that was brought up against the music. He so deflated the whole farce that it should have been dead and buried right there and then,

However, before the hearings were even finished, the RIAA (the most useless and dangerous organization against artists next to the MPAA) already caved in and started putting the stickers on LP's. We should have known then how the RIAA was going to be the greatest force to crush music and artistic freedom.

Long about this time Ice-T's Rap/Metal band Body Count released the song "Cop Killer" unto the masses. Oh what fun that was. But there were lots of groups and albums banned before this and many more since. The thing you'll notice is that Heavy Metal has a disproportionate presence on the list of banned material. Hell, there are songs on the radio now that make the stuff from the 80's sound like nursery rhymes, most notably Rap/Hip Hop. Yet it is Metal that is pointed to as the devils music and the destroyer of souls. How many times has it been blamed for some teen committing suicide? Judas Priest and Ozzy Osborne, among others, were sued because it was said their songs and music drove the kids to kill themselves. OC, the massive amount of drugs and alcohol consumed by the kids had nothing to do with it.

The afore mentioned film gets close to the answer. But the bottom line is that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, in all it's vast sub-genera's, are different from everything else in that they give more positive feedback and a sense of belonging to anyone who is feeling lost or abandoned by society, The funny thing is that anyone who listens to this kind of music is the least likely to kill themselves. The most significant trigger of suicide is a feeling of hopelessness. If you listen to Black Sabbath "War Pigs", Iron Maidens "The Trooper", Motorheads "Ace of Spades", anything by AC/DC or any number of artists of the same ilk, there's no possible way you could ever feel hopeless.

Just try. I dare you.

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