To the outside world Heavy Metal is leather, spikes, shaved heads and bloody knuckles. The music itself is loud, in your face, aggressive and all of the lyrics include themes of death, drugs and satan.
National and Global Media can sell a hell of a lot more newspapers and adspace showcasing the dastardly church burning antics of Scandinavian satanists than spotlighting the good deeds of charitable rockers who come together united by a greater cause than themselves.
This past week, the news story about a tribute show called the "DIMEBASH" began with a quick piece about Dave Grohl joining former band members of Pantera to offer a musical tribute to their deceased band member Dime Bag Darrell. It was newsworthy because Dave Grohl in many media circuits is a big hearted rock star who writes great rock tunes that even your parents will enjoy.
By the weekend, Heavy Metal suffered yet another black eye in the form of a racist salute and shout on that same very stage. Through social media, fans seemed to immediately square off in wall of death, tearing each other down over which side they fell on this controversy. "Loyal" fans who would forgive Anselmo even if he drove over their own parents with a tank accused "Social Justice Warrior" fans of not having thick enough of skin when they began calling Anselmo's "Sig Heil" and "White Power" shouts racist. Other metal musicians like Robb Flynn felt that the incident warranted a response and called out the Pantera front man for being a bully.
I responded during the weekend on our social media page with a short post. I decided to use subtlety rather than call out any of the parties involved by name. I asked the metal community to move forward but to also realize that Anselmo's (I left his name out) actions were not something we should gloss over. He was wrong, no matter how much you love the guy, he was wrong. Several hours later, Anselmo himself would post an apology backing away from an earlier response where he blamed the incident on an inside joke. He asked for the forgiveness of his fans and anyone hurt by his actions.
The reaction from fans over this incident has been just as big of a black eye as the actual incident itself. While I've always felt Metal music can affect change and unify people of various backgrounds, cultures, sexes and ethnicity, the overall picture I got from reading the various racist rants of fans turned my stomach. Is loyalty to your favorite musician reason enough to treat others so terribly for having differing opinions? Especially when it comes down to condemning an artist for a racial tirade? I had high hopes that the majority of fans would call Anselmo out on his poor judgement and show the world that we are much more than what the media around the globe likes to represent us as. Unfortunately, too many folks are playing up this controversy to act out on latent prejudices and racial views.
My last thoughts on the matter as I move forward and try to discover more bands from around the world and various cultures. Be the change you want to see in the world. Stand up against hate and remind those artists you support that it does matter what they say and do on stage. This is the only way we succeed as fans and as people.