Let me just say a couple of things before I begin. First, I love Decibel magazine.I read it religiously every month and interestingly enough, bumped into some people at SXSW who were also fans and we spent quite some time waxing poetic about the monthly mag.
But before being a metalhead, I was black. And despite what some of my so-called friends think, I still am and damn proud of it. Not only am I a "ride-or-die Negro" I'm pretty adamant about my black militancy and I, as a person who is no longer my friend once reminded me, I must understand that to some in the scene, I am a nigger first.
A week ago, I first read via Twitter that Decibel was planning to have Varg Vikernes on the cover. My initial re-tweet was "are you fucking kidding me?"
So for those of you who do not know who the musician behind Burzum is, here is a quick recap:
Vikernes was a former member of the black metal band, Mayhem, and in 1994 he was convicted of murdering his bandmate Øystein Aarseth, (aka Euronymous). He was also convicted of four counts of arson for burning historic churches, and altogether, was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He was released last May ( I also think he tried to escape at least once, but that's irrelevant). In addition to this, he has made certain, ahem, statements about his thoughts on, well, anyone who isn't like him. here is just one recent 'thought:'
The ‘black metallers’ will probably continue to ‘get loaded,’ ‘get high,’ and in all other manners too behave like the stereotypical Negro; they will probably continue to get foreign tribal tattoos, dress, walk, talk, look and act like homosexuals, and so forth."
-- Varg Vikernes 2009
And you know what? Vikernes is entitled to his opinion. The homophobic, anti-semite racist murderer is yes, entitled to say what he wants. I just went over to Stormfront.org, and there is a lot of people that agree with him.
Also, he has just released an album and all the metal sites and publications are reviewing it. Some say it's pretty good and some are disappointed. I'm not a huge fan of black metal, so I can't really comment on that but again, they have a right. It's a hot, sexy topic and reviewing the album seems to guarantee hits / readers, so again, I can't hate.
But I have to admit, I do take issue with Decibel......BUT they made a savvy marketing move and if you are trying to keep a music magazine afloat in this economy, so be it, I guess. But I have to say, I'm disappointed. By giving Vikernes the cover, for chrissakes, my first thought was that for their readers who are gay, Jewish, Black, or whatever ethnicity that Vikernes hates that week, are not as important as making some money. Now granted, I have not read the article and maybe I'll be surprised if J.Bennett tears him a new one. But on the other hand, I honestly think that no one will give a shit....hence this rant. Does that make it okay? Acceptable? Hell naw, but that is life, son. Decibel just proved to me that they don't give a shit about the middle-aged black woman who does not listen to music in which the musician(s) openly discuss their hatred for my kind. I'm not surprised at all..... just a bit sad. But this is nothing new. I'm not just a fan; I'm also a working metal music journalist who writes about metal...not really because to make money, but because it is my passion. But who fucking cares, right?
I occasionally posts comments on Metalsucks and Invisible Oranges whenever some douchebag says something racially or sexually offensive. I can't help myself.....even though it is kinda pointless. The people, usually men, say shit just to get some attention and just to start a thread, so you are pandering to their juvenille behavior if you tell them that they are douchebags. The main problem is, is that the majority of metal listeners are white, straight men. And from my experience, they are only concerned about things that directly affect them. I've read some comments, like "oh, Burzum is just music. get over it.'Yeah, you do that, you privileged, ignorant motherfucker. You just do that. I will not support a musician or anything associated with that musician who stands for things that I am against. Whose words and personal beliefs can lead others to hurt or discriminate against people that I know or who look like me. I do not support murders, anti-semites, homophobes and racists. Hell, I lost a good friend over going to that Down concert in Detroit. She was the one who reminded me that my white metal dude/friends most likely thought that I was a nigger and i.better.not.forget.that.
But hey, that's just me.
The anonomyous commenter's do not care about women (except for the chick they are banging that week) minorities and seem to refuse to think about anything - or believe that anything is relevant - outside their lived experience. They are not affected by Vikernes's beliefs. They do not think about how their black or gay or Jewish, et.al friends who listen to metal, who feel uncomfortable attending a show where the singer or one of the band members is on record of saying something racially offensive. And yes, there are those black, Jewish, gay men and women metal fans who do not care, either. It's music, they say. I don't have to listen to it if I don't want to. And that is their right to do so.I don't necessarily agree, but hey, that's not my cause to fight.
If my regular readers haven't noticed, I also write about race & ethnicity. I also am a trans-racial adoptee, an activist who was raised by a white family in a rural and racist environment. My childhood was not great by any stretch of the imagination. But one thing I am sure about is that I know about race and racism. I know that racism is insidious and I also know that people do not like to talk about it, as they are afraid that if they say the 'wrong thing' they will be branded as racists. I also know that when I make pronouncements and sweeping generalizations about white folks, black folks, whatever, it is because I know what the fuck I am talking about - but I also know that I am being a tad boneheaded, but whatever. I am one of those Field Negroes who will not back down from a fight and yes, I know that painting ignorant commenter's with one brush, is bigoted. But it's my experience that all of the above sentiments are true.
But I also understand that first, Decibel is a magazine that needs to sell copies. They are also not the end-all-to-be-all, either. I will not fall over and burn my impressive album collection or my magazine collection over this. This is simply just a blip in time...and in my life, just like it will be in yours and it will be soon forgotten.
There are other issues weighing me down right now, which, in part, has led me to spew: People who have not had the experience of what it is like to be negatively judged and / or dismissed as a relevant human being because of their ethnicity, do not know what it feels like when something or someone you enjoy is proven to be not what you thought it was. I might never read the magazine again but most likely, I will.
But it's just lost some of it's credibility with me. Just sayin.'