Docs That Rock

Songs That Can Kill

I have heard the complaints that this blog has ignored Norwegian Death Metal for far too long. But this post will rectify that. The film Until the Light Takes Us has been making the small cinema and festival rounds and may be playing in your area now. It focuses on the musicians behind the horrible headlines from Norway where the black metal scene engendered church burnings, mutilations and even killings.

The New York Times called the film “absorbing” and said it “illustrates the Norwegian context — cold and dark, liberal but ultra-conformist, increasingly globalized — in which these diffident, smart, polite young men came to feel alienated and racially and culturally oppressed.” But ace music blogger Carrie Brownstein (formerly of the band Sleater-Kinney) disagrees, writing that the movie left too many questions unanswered: “Who were these black-metal artists listening to and reading that led them down a path of atonal, angry music and extreme anti-Christian and anti-American sentiment?”

The whole notion that music can influence behavior and even violent is an old debate. And of course, metal mostly gets the blame. On the surface, it’s an easy charge: the black gear, fascination with death, occult lyrics, etc. But some exculpatory evidence came out of the Philippines where Frank Sinata’s “My Way” is said to incite murder! Per the New York Times: “The news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the ‘My Way Killings’ there something inherently sinister in the song?”

Country music has danger too. A Thai man killed eight of his neighbors in a rage after they sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” And even mellow Coldplay can stir a ruckus, causing a fistfight in a Seattle karaoka bar (actually, that fight seems justified. Rim shot.)

Think there are likely more examples and maybe it’s the old saw that songs don’t kill, people do. Watch the film about Norway to gut check your opinion.


March 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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