Heavy metal has had a bad beat since the dawn of the genre onto themusicscene. Slipknot, Ozzy Osborn, Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest, and Slayer are just some of the household names on the metal scene to have come under fire for supposedly incitingsuicide, and in some cases murder. It’s a fire that the media has been more than happy to stoke, quick to insinuate links between the brutal lyrics and acts ofviolence.
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To quote Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider, “ Every time a serial killer, mass murderer, Satanists, or any “ evil” person in our society… anytime the media’s found out that they’ve listened to heavy metal music it has been blown up as the reason for why this person is doing the things that they do” (Dunn). And he couldn’t be more right. As in the case of Marilyn Manson and the Columbine shootings, the media is more than happy to stoke the flames of controversy, even if the evidence points to the contrary. Violence has been around a lot longer than we have,” says Corey Taylor, lead vocalist and lyricist for the band Slipknot. Though violence and heavy metal seem to be intimately intertwined there is a difference between seeing and doing. ” I have listened to enough metal for me to essentially be a serial killer,” says James McMahon from UK music magazine NME, ” But there’s something in me that says no, that’s not whatI believelife is about. Serial killers existed before Slayer, you know.
I’m a big fan of horror movies but Hostel, Saw, those torture-porn films, I find myself repulsed… metal is pantomime comparatively. ” As one young Norwegian metal fan told the UK’s Guardian newspaper, ” It’s all fantasy… none of this is real… you can’t take this seriously… it’s just like a movie. ” According to Sam Dunn, anthropologist and director of “ Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”, “ People look at heavy metal and label it for all sorts of things because we need easy answers to complex questions.
I think that it’s easy to target a heavy metal band for inciting violence or making kids turn to a cult than it is to actually look at real problems in the real world” (Dunn). So what REALLY causes violent acts amongst teens? According to William Fleeman author of ” Managing Teen Anger and Violence,” teen violence is a growing problem in the United States and many of the underlying causes have nothing to do with musical preference. For instance, Fleeman states that abuse of drugs and/or alcohol contributes to teen violence.
Violence among teens often stems from actions taken while intoxicated as well as crimes committed to obtain drug and/or alcohol. Another possibility is teens afflicted with mental issues. Metalhealthissues and conditions often show an inclination for violent behavior. Fleeman also states that teens living in unstable environments in which parents are neglectful and/or abusive tend to act out violently due to first hand exposure to violence and/or neglect.
And as in most cases some teens are motivated to participate in reckless and violent behavior as a result ofpeer pressure. They feel the need to fit in do to whatever reason and as such act out to look “ cool”. Also, and this is possibly the most surprising reason of all, many teens that tend to do poor scholastically are more likely to behave violently in and outside of school. They feel undermined, even “ stupid” and as such tend to act out as a way to gain acknowledgment (Fleeman).
While Fleeman’s research depicts teen violence to be at an all-time high research done by the FBI from 1990 through 2007 has shown that rates of serious violence amongst youths under the age 18 has plunged by 49%, including unprecedented declines in murder (down 66%), rape (down 52%), robbery (down 32%), and serious assault (down 28%) (FBI). Furthermore, large-scale surveys such as Monitoring the Future and The American Freshman have found students today reporting higher levels ofhappiness, optimism, leadershipinterest, and volunteerism and lower rates ofsmoking, drinking, depression, dropout, and materialism.
And if that’s not enough to blow you away, the youngest teens showed the biggest improvements. So what causes teen violence? Is the media to blame? Is it drugs, metal health issues, neglect, peer pressure, or even bad grades? There may never be a satisfactory answer, but as far as metal is concerned, sociologist Donna Gaines had this to say, “ For young people, it’s a place to belong where you can experience other possibilities and transcend everyday life in a very glorious way… Is heavy metal a sacrament? For some people, it is.
If it keeps kids alive, if it gives them hope, if it gives them a place to belong, if it gives them a sense of transcendence, then I believe it’s a spiritual force. I believe it’s a pipeline to God” (Dunn). And according to Dunn, “ You either feel it, or you don’t. ” Works Cited 1)Dunn, Sam, dir. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Writ. Scot McFadyen. Warner Bros. Entertainment, 2006. DVD. August 27 2012. 2)Fleeman, William. Managing Teen Anger and Violence: A Pathways to Peace Program. Impact Publications, 2008. Web. 3)U. S. government & U. S. Department of Justice, Stats and Services, www. fbi. gov