April 24, 2008


And the discussion ensues! Here are my thoughts for today™ in relation to this and some of the larger ideas that the letters have me thinking 'bout: What I'm getting at is not the old "does liking racist stuff make you racist?" convo of 05, but our 21st century American charge--that we must consider how we are complicit and what we are complicit in by what we consume. What is the end result of not looking at what ignorant shit comes out of someone's mouth, because when they sing you can't actually understand it? Even if the singer is espousing racism, and you know he's probably espousing racism, and they are putting out records on an NSBM label? Why does it make a difference if someone is racist in Norweigian, if you know they are racist? Does a language barrier give you indemnity if you can't tell the difference between them saying "kill jews" and "barn"? If Dan Bejar used the word "faggot" to insult someone in an interview, would you/me/Brooklyn Vegan/Blender still feel okay writing about the New Pornographers and not mentioning it? Why is some of black metal's racism overlookable, and others not? How serious of a nazi do you have to be? How come the same standards don't apply to punk RAHOWA bands? America is a racist place, so we could say they come from tradition of racist expression, right? But would you justify buying one of those records by saying "Ok, it's cool because I'm not actually into the KKK." Why does an aesthetic tradition of nationalism get one genre a free pass, but another genre not?


Writing it off as rhetoric just means we're writing it off as views that they wish to pass on to others, so I wouldn't write it off at all. And I'm willing! The discussion of authenticity is a slippery slope...there's no clear-cut definition of authenticity in art. And from what I know the popular arguments are that there's either no authenticity or everything is authentic. Either way, it doesn't matter necessarily. Sticking by tradition or forging your own neo-socialist path doesn't change the fact that that vitriol is pretty dang grosso.

>>>Who does it serve by not taking these views seriously? Who is benefiting from this pass?

It serves the (mostly American) fans by letting them flirt with ideas they have floating around their lizard brains but don't actually believe in. They get to play with fire. The only benefactors from this shit are the people who say it and believe it, and the people that hear it and believe it. The rest of us who aren't taking it seriously (or taking it very seriously), get to sit and watch and suffer through.


Thanks for bringing up the black metal issue-

Anyways, like you I recall the glory days of the PC vs. non-PC leanings of the early 90s (see Dwarves etc.). I really hate to describe it that way, but its easiest. As my years advance, I cringe when I listen to some of this stuff ie Christian Death's first album, to quote a friend, "Rozz, why do you have to say that word?" or "Back from Samoa." Although I count a Dwarves show as one of my favorite concerts, the schtick always leaves me uncomfortable and ultimately I feel that with them that is all it is.

Yesterday as I was walking my dogs through Cleveland's suburbs (incidentally near Neon Beach's unlimited tans) listening to black metal I thought about your entry. I don't have an answer and its certainly not as simple as the "Dude, Skrewdriver rocks" statement. Note to self-- I have to finish my spec-script on Skrewdriver. I guess I can write off a bunch of crazy Croatian teenagers writing that kinda stuff as the Shaggs, but a bunch of adults from Chicago no way.

Is there an answer, I think it depends on the audience, just like we filter what our son sees, reads and hears because he cannot understand it. It depends on the audience. I always worry about how the above Skrewdriver statement eventually justifies knowing, thinking human beings forgetting the irony.

No answers, but thanks for raising the point.


Hi Jessica, I thought I'd jump in on this topic. My main question is why the "hipster embrace" of a band who espouse despicable values is what causes you concern. That seems to imply that all "hipsters" (whatever that word still means) should hold to the same set of values (which here means progressive liberal values, that hipsters cannot or should not be racist, sexist, antisemitic, or intolerant in any way. Obviously in a perfect word no one would be intolerant. But I'm just puzzled by the idea that everyone who reads pitchfork is assumed to have the same views. Also, honestly, I have no idea what the political views are of most artists who Pitchfork review. I mean I assume that Dan Bejar are the dudes from the Shins or whatever aren't homophobic racists. But I think one of the dudes from the Shins beat up his girlfriend, which seems worse than calling someone a "faggot" or talking about a zionist conspiracy. So should I not listen to the Shins. Or since I'd rather listen to Nachtmystium than the Shins, should I deny myself whatever pleasure I get from listening to Nachtmystium--or let's even say Burzum for much less ambiguously heinous views--because of what the members of the group might believe? I mean I can understand being troubled when you find out that any artist holds views that we find reprehensible, but where do you draw the line?

The other thing that I find interesting is that this is not a problem when Pitchfork reviews Jay-Z or Clipse or any number of hip-hop artists who actually espouse intolerance (especially homophobia) in the actual content of their lyrics--honestly I can't understand what the hell most Black Metal artists are saying. Although whenever the lyrics are printed it's usually just highschool emo lyrics about how life sucks and we should all die...

Posted by Jessica at April 24, 2008 11:58 AM | TrackBack