The Metal Made Me Do It

There's never really been a good time to be a metalhead. Plenty of other rock derivatives have had their moment in the spotlight from disco in the late 70's to grunge in the early 90's. But heavy metal has only ever had bad moments. And about the time I became a fan was no different.

I discovered metal when I was 14-years-old. P.O.D. was the latest rage, and within a year they quickly helped me discover Project 86, Living Sacrifice, and Extol. And once I had ventured into the European scene, it was hard to look back. Gothenburg had stolen my heart, and I had no interest in getting it back. Still don't.

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But the transition happened so quickly, I think it scared some people. The before nerdy and awkward adolescent was now donning all black and had developed a fascination with trench coats. As I said before, metal has always had bad moments. And when I was 14, the year was 1999.

Most of us don't really think about the Columbine massacre anymore. But I do. I remember the look of fear in church members' eyes as I approached youth group events--no doubt resembling, at least to them, a young Dylan Klebold. It didn't help that The Matrix was released less than a month before the tragedy. Probably made matters worse that it quickly became my favorite movie. By all outward accounts, I was a young kid in trouble. And it wouldn't be long before I might go looking for it.

Right about now is the part of the story where I should write about how I got mixed up with drugs, got addicted to cigarettes, and landed in jail. But unlike the screenplays written by my onlookers years ago, that's not what happened. I just kept listening to metal and generally kept to myself.

I still don't know what marijuana smells like. I tried cigarettes only once (sucked down three of them in five minutes and concluded they were boring). And I've never even gotten a speeding ticket.* Basically, I'm awesome. And a model citizen. Perhaps it's time to rethink the theory that metal makes people do bad things.

It's really questionable at all to think that consuming various forms of media makes us do anything. In fact, most of the people I know (aside from the fundies who only consume what's good for them) listen to music they identify with emotionally. In other words, they don't listen to change their mood; they listen to music that reflects their mood.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal notes that, "...metal is a panacea for its followers, the only way to make sense of a chaotic, callous society in which they don't fit." So yes, people who don't understand can claim that metalheads are juvenile misfits all they want. But they can't claim that what goes into us defines us. As Jesus said, it's what comes out that makes us evil.

Imagine a world with that ethic in place. Where people didn't blame the devices and devils around them, but took responsibility for their own lives. A world without contrived rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world. With only you.


*Unfortunately, this is no longer true. Read about it here