On Phil Anselmo’s Non-Apology

A few years ago, at Dimebash 2016, Phil Anselmo yelled “white power!” The backlash was immediate and, to an extent, over the top. As we reported back then, Anselmo’s stupidity was used as a symbol of some kind of powerful, prevalent and somehow undercover “racism in metal,” with the likes of Machine Head’s Rob Flynn using the event as a fantastic opportunity to engage in performative activism. Standing up for the brave and controversial position of “racism is bad, mmmkay?”, every single major metal publication published some kind of denunciation of Anselmo, lamenting what they saw as a dangerous and enormous Nazi (or at least very racist) presence in heavy metal.

From the moment the controversy started, Anselmo demonstrated that he didn’t really understand why people were so bothered by his words. Making matters worse, he failed to offer even a half-decent explanation as to why he yelled such a thing. First, he said that it was an “inside joke” about the fact that he had been drinking a lot of white wine before going on stage… then, he changed his story and said that he actually did it to get a rise out of people in the front row who were calling him a racist (certainly a bizarre strategy). Eventually, he apologized. He groveled. He called his own words “ugly” and “uncalled for,” adding that he was “a thousand percent apologetic to anyone that took offence to what I said because you should have taken offence to what I said.” He added “I am so sorry, and I hope you just … man, give me another chance to … just give me another chance”

Phil Anselmo at Hellfest with Scour

Now, after 2 years, in his latest interview with Kerrang! UK, Phil decided to change his story once again, placing a big part of the blame on those who were offended or bothered:

“I feel like it’s ridiculous. I made an off-colour joke and ‘Boom!’ – it’s like I’m literally Hitler! I’m not. I take each individual one at a time, in the way that any logical individual will. I have love in my heart. Over the years I’ve learned to take the first step with love and to put good faith first. I get along with everybody. If there’s any doubt about my political leanings, people should get it out of their heads. I was raised amongst a dazzling [cast of characters] from the theatre, from the mental hospital, from all walks of life – all colours, creeds and kinds. It’s absurd to me that anyone in this day and age would judge anyone by the colour of their skin, their heritage or their religion. I’m a harmless guy. I’m a reactionary, not a troublemaker.”

Phil’s braggadocio (and about which Kerrang! UK had absolutely no follow-up questions) is a very big jump from what was his almost tearful apology. And, to be honest, that makes him come off as a coward. He exhibits the same attitude that is most often found among kids who are trying to seem edgy. First, when confronted, and afraid of what might happen to them, they offer tearful apologies. Then, as time passes, and they feel less afraid, they pretend that they are tough guys that didn’t do anything wrong.

I can make no judgments on whether Phil is a racist or not. In fact, I agree with him regarding how some people exaggerated the seriousness of the situation and painted him as some sort of extremist, suggesting that this alcoholic high-school graduate was some sort of ideological far-right leader in the metal community. Following that same ridiculous line of thinking, his band’s shows in New Zealand were cancelled in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, as the promoters and venues were wary of the kind of message that such shows would convey to the local communities. Although many applauded the cancellation, in reality they seem to have been a completely exaggerated and disproportional reaction to what seemed to have been nothing more than edgy words blabbered by a drunk. After all, no one can claim that Phil‘s outbursts or idiotic “jokes” have ever instigated violence, or that they could reasonably be assumed to have violent goals.

Phil Anselmo at Hellfest with Scour

To err is human. We all make mistakes, and we should learn from them and improve over time. By constantly changing his story, Phil is doing a disservice to no one but himself. He doesn’t need to get boycotted or to have his shows cancelled. He seems to be doing a good enough job at sinking his own career on his own.


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J Salmeron
Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J's interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson "totally represents me, man") eventually moving into the realm of power, black, and death metal. He is a practicing attorney, and a lecturer on commercial law. He is also a terrible guitar player and martial artist, and someone who enjoys coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.
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Soundview
Soundview
11 months ago

I don’t believe Anselmo is a racist. He did something stupid in venue he thought was full of friendly faces. Have we forgotten Dimebags confederate flag guitar? Anselmo got a ton of shit for it and rightfully so and he apologized sincerely. But it clearly peeved him that people are continue getting publishe trashing him. You’re right that he should have reiterated his apology but it seems to me like the bullshit backlash has made him childishly defensive. I say move on. People fuck up. He apologized already. If you keep asking the same questions trying to mine for new… Read more »

Jamba Bamba
Jamba Bamba
11 months ago

Big respect for his answer in Kerrang interview.
This article is so pathetic and stupid. OMG Some people are terribly brainwashed by political correctness.

J_MetalBlast
11 months ago
Reply to  Jamba Bamba

How so? Why don’t you elaborate on your point, and that way people can make fun of you in a more thorough manner.

Jamba Bamba
Jamba Bamba
1 year ago
Reply to  J_MetalBlast

That was just a hand gesture. Calm down. Take a deep breath.

ragman
ragman
11 months ago

Phil did nothing to apologize for, other than spending the last couple of decades making shitty music.

Metal is supposed to be obnoxious and offensive. Nowadays though it seems it’s only acceptable to be offensive to white people who don’t want to be doormats for the rest of humanity. Any other group is considered sacred and must be not only respected, but revered.

Yes, Phil is pathetic. But not because he said “White Power”. He’s pathetic for apologizing for it.

J_MetalBlast
11 months ago
Reply to  ragman

I disagree. Yelling “White Power!” at a Dimedash was a stupid thing to do, and it was good that he apologized

Jamba Bamba
Jamba Bamba
1 year ago
Reply to  J_MetalBlast

Why people must apologize for bad joke?

Grizzly
Grizzly
11 months ago

I think the backlash was hypocritical. Sure Phil did something offensive, but look at how many bands base their entire careers on offending Christianity.

Behemoth’s schtick for example consists of completely slandering and insulting the deeply held sincere beliefs of millions of people, yet nobody calls for them to apologize. Phil makes a single drunken mean comment and hand gesture? Break out the torches and pitchforks!!!

Nobody cares about the song “Kill The Christian,” but if somebody re-recorded it and changed the lyrics to “Kill The Homosexual” or “Kill The Jew” or “Kill The Muslim” there’d be hell to pay.

Tommy Boy
Tommy Boy
11 months ago

LOT of edge in these comments.