Politics, Metal and MetalSucks
(Or Hateful Asshole Reacts to Imbeciles, or #MFW #MetalSucks should #STFU)
In a recent editorial on Metalsucks, editor Matt Goldberg (a.k.a. Axl Rosenberg) decided to give his two uninformed cents on the issue of whether politics have any place in heavy metal. Although he claims that this genre of music has always been political (a claim with which I agree), he quickly goes off the deep end.
I get it. When you’re busy running a magazine committed to hard-hitting reports on topics like “Selena Gomez Fans React to Metal” (the explosive follow up to “Bieber fans” and “classical music fans” react to metal), regurgitating whatever idiotic ramble came out of Corey Taylor’s mouth that week, or a video series devoted to important issues like “The Most Metal Comics and Characters of All Time” and “Metal Vocalists as Pokémon,” it can be pretty taxing to actually write something moderately rational. I mean, I can barely name like 40 Pokémon tops, and that’s only out of the original 150, so I absolutely don’t mean to diminish his editorial prowess.
It is not that I have a problem with Goldberg’s point; on the contrary. A simple analysis of the roots of heavy metal shows that it had very political origins, and that politics have played an important role in shaping it. The problem is that, after guesstimating a list of political songs and bands, he presents this uninformed nugget of wisdom:
“Do most of the songs mentioned above lean left? Well… yeah, of course. I never understand why anyone is surprised that creative people are predominantly liberal; thinking outside the box is what they do, so naturally they’re not gonna jibe with any traditionalist worldview. So while there are definitely exceptions (the aforementioned “Critical Acclaim” by A7X, for example), no duh these songs tend to be anti-conservative.”
First of all, let’s give credit where credit is due. It cannot be easy to suck your own dick like this. Clearly Goldberg’s ability is the result of a lot of practice and, of course, commitment to his craft. Few people are able to say “all the cool people predominantly agree with me” so effortlessly, and he deserves all the credit he can get for that massive blowjob he just gave himself.
Since what Goldberg did was to simply come up with a conclusion (“cool people are liberals, just like me”), he basically started to look for whatever evidence he could find in order to confirm it. Not only that, he also went ahead and just deliberately redefined concepts like “left” and “right” wing, so as to make sure that the results were something along the lines of “left wing good, right wing bad.” If you are against the abuses of the state, against war, against religion, you are from the left; if you are in favor of the state stomping down on everyone, you love war, and you are obsessed with religion, you are from the right. Really, it’s the kind of deep and nuanced political thought that you usually encounter in a stoner who just got back home after his first semester in college (Che Guevara and CCCP t-shirts included).
It’s also ridiculous to note that in his urge to align himself with every popular musician he could think of, “Axl” included some pretty well-known right wingers. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, for example, became a nutty Republican supporter and was “born again” into whatever Christian sect decided to admit him; Pantera’s Phil Anselmo is regularly called a Nazi by “Axl’s” own Metal Sucks (including the Woodward & Bernstein-level reporting of realizing his record label might follow a right wing channel on Youtube), but his band is included among the left-wing luminaries all the same. Hell, In Rosenberg’s mind, Marilyn Manson, who favored George W. Bush over Al Gore in the 2000 US presidential elections (although he later said he was totes being ironic you guys!), is even part of this lefty club of “creatives.”
What is more, with his sucking up to the political left, in one simple stroke, Goldberg has basically dismissed a big part of black metal; you know, that genre that Metalsucks is happy to exploit for cheap clicks whenever a local idiot on Youtube gets some corpsepaint and a cross. It is undeniable (and Moynihan & Soderlind’s authoritative research on the topic confirms it) that black metal was, at least in its origins, inherently associated with some of what “Axl” would call “right wing” sentiments. And yet, because this is contrary to his barely thought-out point, he conveniently forgets that whole genre. Hell, he even references Wikipedia’s section on hardcore music and politics, ignoring the fact that it even mentions the existence of “right wing” hardcore. It’s bad enough to use Wikipedia as a source, but to be unable to read it is just amazing.
The problem here is fairly easy to see. Goldberg wanted to place himself next to those he considers “creative,” and the only way he could achieve that was merely by association. Since he does not create anything, he does not have any personal claim to fame as a “creator,” the next-best-thing is to simply pretend that liking the same stuff as those he admires somehow puts him in the same level.
What I find particularly repellent about Goldberg’s comments is his idiotic, freshman-level idea that the left is always about “thinking outside the box,” about telling truth to power, while right wingers are all about getting systematically fucked by state and church. This is a downright dangerous idea, and which actually goes against what Goldberg seems to believe he is all about: fighting the status quo.
By apparently assuming that liberals are inherently more moral that conservatives, always thinking “outside the box,” Goldberg places himself in that proud leftist tradition of overlooking abuses as long as their guy is the one committing them. If George W. Bush bombs a defenseless country on trumped-up charges, he is a war criminal; if Obama engages in a policy of collective punishment via the use of drone warfare, he is just a visionary. If Dave Mustaine likes George W. Bush, he is an idiot; if Rage Against the Machine continue to voice their support for the tyrannical Castro regime, as well as admiring a murderer like Che Guevara, they are just “thinking outside the box, man”. When they do something, it is criminal; when we do it, we are morally justified. Of course, this kind of hypocritical behavior is not exclusive to the left; on the contrary, left and right wingers are in a constant race to the bottom on this issue. The problem is that Goldberg decided to place himself and his coreligionists as moral authorities.
Perhaps the funniest thing about this article is not Axl’s desperate and pathetic attempt at trying to place himself among artists; it’s not even that the editor of a site that systematically pushes dumbed-down, lowest-common-denominator content, pretends to have a claim on creativity and “thinking outside the box. Instead, it’s the fact that his whole point was to combat what, in his mind, are people who argue that metal should not be mixed with politics.
I think that the top-rated comment on that page said it best:
“Nobody said politics shouldn’t be in metal, they have said that this site is too incompetent to talk about it.”
Listen to your readers, Metalsucks, stick to Pokémon.