Another day and a new crime committed by pupils in an American High School involving firearms. No longer does this event shock society, but instead it is seen as a problem that needs to be solved. The public can only guess what it is leading teens into carrying out such unthinkable actions at their age. What is it in their youth culture that is causing them to turn into murderers? One thought is that perhaps the rock music of today and its often violent and disturbing lyrics and videos may be partially to blame, but can this argument be justified? Is it the music steering people to violence or do vulnerable minds just turn to dark music as they associate with the often-sinister lyrics and the repulsive images portrayed?
Music has many well-known benefits; most are associated with helping to control emotion. It is at the heart of most social gatherings and there is a song or tune for every mood. By learning to play music it has been proved that better academic potential and skills can be achieved. Because of music providing entertainment, there are many social benefits that come from liking a particular genre as friends can be found with a common interest, the music.
Rock music is a very strong and passionate form of music that tends to draw mainly those in early to mid teens yet unlike many other genres it seems to be able to hold on to its followers throughout the fans' lifetimes. What is it that draws in so many youngsters? Why do they feel the need to get involved in what is seen to be a dark world of outrageous behaviour? It is a simple answer; they feel the need to associate with the others feeling the same strain as they do as they struggle to gain freedom and identity in a confusing world. The lyrics are real and don't hide from the bad parts of life, the passion is so strong people know that the performers have felt what they're singing about. It is a world about being you and being able to escape from growing pressures. Emotionally adolescence is very tough indeed and many fans feel rock music helps them to cope with the feelings rather than it causing them to become yet more incontrollable.
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"It gives me more of a relief of tension than actually making me angry"
Alisha (19) - Dum Dums Message Bored
"If I need to chill or have a little cry the music helps"
Kate (18) - Dum Dums Message Bored
"It helps because you know other people have had the same experiences as you - you are not alone"
Ivy Brandybuck - Dum Dums Message Bored
Yet there is a thought that the music could be twisting the young's minds and turning them to unmoral behaviour especially as rock music has always had its roots in shadowy circumstances. It is thought many of the images portrayed in the early days of psychedelic rock come from hallucinations caused by drugs such as LSD. The lyrics became confused and dream-like. The progression from this was to music associated with Satanism and the rock world portrayed this as a move against religions, particularly Christianity and today we have artist such as Marilyn Manson who are publicly Anti-Christ ("Hopefully I'll be remembered as the person who brought an end to Christianity" - Manson August 1996) and members of the church of Satanism. Such changes in the style of music gave artists a more individual rebel image that is often idolised by the young as they fight society to gain freedom and search for their own identity. It is also thought the rise in interest in this brand of music may be down to an overall rise in society of interest around fantasy, black magic and surrealism as the gothic image became popular in the late 70s and since then the obsession with the 'darker side' and Satan has grown causing production of music that is pushing the teachings of the devil:
"We all praise the devil
He is so fine
We all praise the devil
Till the day we'll die!"
The appearance rock music has been given begins with the appearance given out by the performers themselves. Covered in dark and sinister make-up and dressed in Halloween type outfits, just by looking at rock stars you can see where the concern is coming from. Notorious for wrecking hotel rooms as well as abusing alcohol and recreational drugs and often having criminal records or accusations behind them. They stand out as individuals, what youngsters in their early teens want to be like. They idolise this life wishing they could lead the lives of the stars they follow, like the majority of their peers. It isn't unnatural for them to want to be like the performers but the appearance, attitudes and actions of the performers can be so extreme they become dangerous for a vulnerable adolescent to copy.
"I don't think it's the music itself the affects the way people act but the attitudes of the people who sing them. They should be careful about what they do and say because there's always some people who will think what they're doing is fine and go ahead and do it themselves"
~dum girl~ - Dum Dums Message Bored
The most worrying rock genre is the most hardcore type that seems to many to be pushing the use of drugs and violence, particularly against women. It is this aspect of rock that is the most controversial with many opponents who fear it is damaging the minds of the young. Lyrics constantly refer to abuse against women; sexual violence, self-harming and drug abuse and contain a large amount of blasphemous or offensive language. The following is a classic example of violence and sexual abuse being expressed in a song:
"I am a big man (yes I am) and I have a big gun, got me big old dick and I like to have fun, held it against your forehead, I'll make you suck it, maybe I'll put a hole in your head; you know, just for the f**k of it.... i'm every inch of a man, and I'll show you somehow; me and my f**king gun; nothing can stop me; shoot shoot shoot...."
Nine Inch Nails - Big Man with a gun
It is not always clear what the lyrics are but now with the age of the music videos the scenes can be acted out so the public has constant access to the true horror the musicians are trying to portray through the lyrics and music itself. It is angry music written about anger and intended to alert minds. The dramatic images of sick actions are there to draw in the audience, to bring them into a disturbed world of mental torture. By glorifying these images and ideas it is thought the performers are encouraging violence in society, particularly in the young as they struggle to be noticed. The most worrying thought is that maybe these images are causing people to accept such actions as part of life.
The move away from Christianity so far that it causes anti-religion is also an area for concern. Religion gives society many of its morals and if people are seeing no faith in it then why should they follow its beliefs? Also it is seen as good to be going against the bibles teachings so the more the church condemns the rock world, the more likely the rock world is to fight back harder against it. The problem lies with Christian rock music as some extreme evangelists believe even the beats are from the devil but many Christians believe this is a crazy view:
"these anti-rock people claimed that not only were the lyrics leading teenagers to damnation, but the beat of the music was evil itself as it came from tribes affiliated with Satan...This theory struck me as harder to swallow than subconscious messages we allegedly received from 'secular' music"
Taryn - Crafy Gal Stump
What many people seem to not understand is that the images and lyrics are there to represent the state of society and where the performer sees it is heading, kind of like a warning to the world. The trouble with this is do we know if society is naturally going in that direction or if it's the music steering us that way.
Rock music has always set out to cause controversy and portray the darker occult society. It could not survive if people did not feel associated with the statements it makes. Maybe youth is drawn into it simply out of rebellion against the society they grow up in or maybe they see rock as the only form of art that reflects how the world is changing or the real passion behind emotions they often feel. The ideas are new and fresh and give teens a sense of individuality. People who are angry at life and are naturally aggressive are more likely to turn to gaining an image that portrays that so fall straight into the rock world. The anger against religion is simply a fight back because many fans feel let down by the disappointment of not receiving a happy life but believing in a god.
In the world there are many fans of all levels of rock and the proportion of these who turn to violence is not exceptionally high. Yes maybe the amount of violent young offenders who listen to hardcore rock may be high but perhaps this is because they have always been unnaturally fascinated by the world of the occult sinisterism and the music they listen to simply portrays this. The majority of fans know that what seems to be very evil anti-society behaviour is in fact just a go at all the critics and the critics themselves by apposing the rock world is simply making it more popular.
There has always been a problem with rock music and its sinister side. It seems the violence portrayed was made worse by the introduction of videos where performers could add disturbing visualisations to their already violent lyrics. I do not however feel that these images alone can turn a mind to violent crime. In society we are all made fully aware of what is morally seen to be right and wrong and we cannot hide from that. Most followers of the hardcore rock genres are just like everyone else only they dress differently. All in all it depends on how a listener portrays what the performer is saying. Most realise they are not trying to convert everyone into criminals.
In conclusion I feel that it is not the music and in particular rock music that is causing violence among the teens in America but I feel that the extreme hardcore rock may not be helping to solve the problem and its violent lyrics and videos may be putting ideas into the heads of the already disturbed. It is a free passion form of music and to most people it helps them cope with difficult emotions and helps them to understand pain by comforting them with reassurance they are not alone. As for the religious aspect, why should people be scorned at for not believing in a certain way? The world if free and there is no proof rock music is causing great harm so it, like the rest of society, should be free to be expressed.
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