木曜日, 1月 05, 2006

Barking up the wrong tree

after reading about the recent furore on the raid at paul's place in KL over an alleged black metal gig, i sometimes wonder if this was a typical example of knee-jerk reaction from an ill-informed public leading to the tip-off. the raiding of a music establishment by the local authorities is not a new phenomenon. the zouk incident a year ago was one worthy of a mention.

i will not try to put forward an argument against whether music can subliminally influence one's mind. rock music and its heavier/darker ilk have always been the alleged root of all evil. a kid committing suicide listening to ozzy's suicide solution. the columbine killings committed by students, one of whom was a fan of marilyn manson. what if you had a serial killer with a complete collection of mariah carey CDs? then again, i have no problem having her branded as evil. haha.

nor will i try to defend the acts of genuine psychos, who are few and far between, which include church-burning in scandinavia and murder. psychotic antisocial behaviour is not limited to the association with black metal. some radical skinheads still hold on to nazi beliefs, and they are into punk music.

are these extreme music genres are to blame? the west memphis three is a sad example of such prejudice.

music had always been utilised as a symbol of rebellion. the shaking hips of elvis presley was perceived as being unsightly by the standards of a more conservative era of the 50's. the calmly serene guitar-infused tunes of bob dylan and joan baez were filled with anti-war angst and criticism of the american government. rap music by the likes of NWA, with their anti-police stance, was a representation of the deep-rooted frustrations with the ill-treatment of the minority african-american population.

i strongly believe that music is not to be solely blamed. ice-T didn't incite the post-rodney king LA riots. ozzy didn't tell that kid to put a bullet in his head. it may be naively simplistic, but to blame, say, punk music as a reason of racist behaviour in a skinhead is like saying his leather biker jacket or knee/ankle-high doc martens are influential just as well. music has become an unwitting accessory. an image appended to the fcuked-up psyche, if you will. can you imagine brutal thugs having a penchant for justin timberlake?

the hardcore norwegian black metal scene was rooted in anti-christian beliefs seen in a small number of youths. it was a statement to revive their norse roots. music by mayhem and emperor may contain pagan elements but it couldn't have solely be responsible for the burning of churches. ideologies like these are borne out of sinister factors deeper than those of screeching vocals and high speed guitar riffs played over blast beats.

it is interesting to see how the local media reports on this. the header read 'mereka akan memijak al-quran' in a local tabloid reporting on a raid on a seremban metal gig last december. the report did include a general write-up on the activities of a 'typical' black metal scene (as i did above), but then appending one of these activities as a header, which i must add, wasn't likely to have had occurred, was misleading. if i were to hypothetically rally a group of people to worship ol' horned uncle nick, i wouldn't book the local community hall and start black mass in the afternoon, would i?

facts need to be got right (black mental[sic] - sheesh) if the general public is to be aware. even my 71-year old dad knows of franz ferdinand (the scottish band, not the assassinated archduke of austria) but that doesn't mean he knows who count grischnakh is. just because i wear a black tee emblazoned with the name iron maiden doesn't make me a black metal psycho-fanatic. one doesn't need to be associated with any kind of music to drink and do illicit drugs.

the root of the society's problem ain't music, it's somewhere else more obvious. please leave the musicians and us decent music-loving public alone.

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for a more detailed account of the paul's place brouhaha, go to jeff ooi's screenshots.