April 23, 2008

TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT WHAT YOU REALLY REALLY WANT

This mornings mailbag brings me to some questions, and they are:

1. Can you really separate a creators ideology from their creative output? Can you parcel out the parts you like?
2. What happens when we write-off anti-semitism/racism/homophobia in (black) metal as rhetoric? Is it actually rhetoric? Why aren't we willing to take these opinions at face value?
3. When we suggest that these views are not authentic, or simply spurred on by teenage will to shock, as John Darnielle suggested may be the case in the May issue of Decibel-- are we supposed to assume that espousing racism et. al. is just aesthetic tradition? If it's hewing to aesthetic tradition, does that make it not authentic by default ?
5. Who does it serve by not taking these views seriously? Who is benefiting from this pass?

FROM THE MAILBAG:

I thought this was a really interesting post, and touched on a discussion I sort of had with Brandon Stosuy who writes the metal column for Pitchfork...just that the history of black metal is so connected to either the violence or the racist immaturity that the scene festered in for so long, fueled by a bunch of 19 year-olds reading Tolkien and thinking that the Edda could totally apply to 1992. It sort of colors all black metal that came after it to a certain extent, even if the band stands in total opposition to it (like Wolves In The Throne Room, who just recently had to a some MySpace bulletin clearing up any confusion/reaction to some interview the guy gave where he supposedly came off as anti-semitic).
I'm not the hugest black metal dude, but the history is interesting enough, at least as a lens to take a peek at super white dudes + boredom + guitar. Either way, Natchmystium's music is good, and that should be taken on it's own merit in my opinion, critically separate (for a time) from their anti-semitic throwoffs in interviews (which seemed pretty disingenuous and tossed in to me...like he didn't really know what 'Zionist' meant). The flip side is that every interview I've ever read with the guys suggest that they're a bunch of holier-than-thou emo douchebags with bullet belts.

****

What's your beef with Nachtmystium? I don't recall Blake Judd ever aligning himself with NSBM or making prejudicial remarks against homosexuals or Jews. Granted, he digs Burzum for the music and ignores Varg's rhetoric, so maybe there's a Hannah Arendt "banality of evil" thing going on. But I think you are WAY overstating the influence of NSBM. Your average "nigel hipster" is not listening to Graveland.

****


Hi, I'm a frequent reader of your blog. Re: Nachtmystium...I get your point that the supposed "hipster embrace" of bands like Nachtmystium is overlooking the sketchy politics that dog much of the black metal scene. But in practically every Nachtmystium interview I've read that happens to touch on the subject, they've made clear that they have no desire to associate themselves with "NSBM" or politics of any kind. I'm not defending the ignorant comments made by Blake Judd/"Azentrius" in that 3-year old article you alluded to. However, I certainly haven't seen any evidence of or read any recent interviews with him where the sentiments behind those comments were expressed again.

I dunno, maybe I'm being too defensive. I'm admittedly a fan of their music and enjoyed seeing them live last year. But I understand your concerns, and I'm pretty sympathetic to them. I guess I'm just conflicted. Sorry for rambling. I enjoy reading your blog. Take care.

****

Posted by Jessica at April 23, 2008 11:50 AM | TrackBack