Wednesday, 30 April 2014
METAL IS NOT TO BLAME
Following the tragic stabbing of the much loved teacher Anne Maguire at a Leeds high school, many media outlets are picking up on the fact that the boy responsible was both a metal fan and an avid gamer. Since the metal genre was born it has been blamed for all manner of ills in the world, murder, rape, crimes of every description, the warping of youth, the perversion of ideals and possibly even the downfall of civilisation itself. Well, what utter nonsense. You could just as well blame biscuits or flatulence for those same things.
Yes, metal often has a negative outlook, but it's more as social commentary and personal catharsis rather than a call to arms to slaughter people. If people are unhinged to start with, some loud music with confrontational or tasteless lyrics isn't going to tip them over the edge. The edge has already whizzed past them long ago.
The argument that metal causes crimes and mental disorders is as old as the music itself and remains unfounded. What about hip hop? Video games? Ultra-violent films? They don't create lunatics. None of these things do. The lunatics are already there, right around the world, and metal or any other media played no part in making them act a certain way. High profile court cases involving acts like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne went nowhere in the 80s, and still the accusations come up whenever something terrible happens. The Columbine shootings come to mind as well, considering the media's association of the lunatics responsible with alternative culture.
It is all part of a pathetic need for sections of the media to find a reason, a scapegoat which can easily have the finger pointed at it in order to give a reason where there really isn't one. Society creates its own monsters. Be it a lack of medical and psychological understanding in our communities, a lack of compassion for people in need of serious help, or just plain old ignorance, the blame for these atrocities isn't to be squared at music or art or tomatoes or race or shoelaces or reality TV.
If people want to bring up the early 90s and the Black Metal controversy involving church burnings, murders, assault and the rest, then they're welcome to. The people involved in those occurrences were already psychologically troubled. Some issues with society can indeed be traced back to the media output that people consume, such as body image issues and unrealistic lifestyle aspirations through reality TV and fashion magazines, a skewed sense of monetary value, views on gender, orientation and suchlike are all being directly screwed up.
Niche genre music doesn't cause social ills. If anything it helps to prevent them. Metal is a genre which offers positivity through a negative release, catharsis instead of incitement. Exploration and entertainment rather than instruction. Art isn't a cause. It's an outlet. It's not a reason for terrible things happening, and yet once again it is being brought in as a scapegoat.
How can one of the most technical, intelligent and nuanced forms of musical expression be seen as an element in the cause of a terrible incident like this? You can bet a lot of our government doesn't like metal, and they go to war to murder thousands of people at a time. At home they ruin the lives of the country with misguided policies and well-documented corruption. Can we blame that on something too? Public school? An upper class out of touch with reality? Metal isn't to blame. Music never is.