The Only Darkie In the Room When the Nigger Jokes Come Out…

PANTERA!

PANTERA!

 

So while in the middle of booking our upcoming spring #Clarity Tour 2016, I came across the footage posted by Metal Injection of the most recent Phil Anselmo incident.  During the recent Dimebash concert in Los Angeles, California, Mr. Anselmo decided to end the night after a blistering performance of the Pantera classic “Walk” with a Nazi  ‘Seig Heil’ salute and yelling “White Power” before being pulled off stage.  When asked to comment on his actions Anselmo replied like most metalheads reply when called out for their sexist/racist comments “”Ok folks, I’ll own this one, but dammit, I was joking, and the ‘inside joke of the night’ was because we were drinking fucking white wine, hahaha… Of all fucking things. Some of y’all need to thicken up your skin. There’s plenty of fuckers to pick on with a more realistic agenda. I fucking love everyone, I fucking loathe everyone, and that’s that. No apologies from me.”

 

It’s always just a joke.   Is it a joke? Phil Anselmo isn’t Louis CK or David Cross.  He’s not doing cerebral intellectual humor.  Sorry if I don’t find a white guy, yelling “White Power” in a room full of pumped up white men “ha ha” funny.  Touring as much as we do, in the heartland of the United States, where there is little to no  racial diversity, we encounter racist behavior like the kind displayed by Mr. Anselmo quite often.  Like so much it would make your head spin.  Like Linda Blair Exorcist spin. And it’s always protected under the notion that comments are NOT a direct slight at me, or people that look like me, but that are to be some sort of comedic relief. After we’re told that these comments are “just jokes” and  to “lighten up”(no racial pun intended),  that the person who spews out the vile hatred isn’t just a hater of blacks, or women,  but in fact they are a hater of everyone.  A nihilist, who by definition, gives no fucks.  But I don’t know if I buy that.  I don’t think it’s all joke.  I mean, how is making an already marginalized person to feel even MORE marginalized funny? Again, I understand in Mr. Anselmo’s case, he was said to be intoxicated. And to be honest with you, I don’t know the guy.  Never met him.  He could be the sweetest man who truly loves everybody equally, and had a momentary lapse in inebriated judgement, and is trying to brush it off, because maybe, just maybe he actually regrets what he did and feels bad. And lets just admit it.  You can’t  be apologetic in metal.  The music and the attitude around don’t adhere to contrition. Just read Mr. Anselmo’s “apology” So where is the accountability?

Chicky rocking the fuck out in Juarez, Mexico

Chicky rocking the fuck out in Juarez, Mexico

 

 

It seems as if we give a pass to this behavior under the guise of the mainstream being too “politically correct”.  These racist actions, like the actions of Mr. Anselmo at the Dimebash, are to be viewed as more anti-establishment and “metal” then viewed as offensive like they actually are. Granted, I do believe that we as a society are becoming  a little too sensitive when it comes to “bullying”, but yelling “White Power” and capping it off with a Nazi salute isn’t edgy or done for any kind of comedic value. Even if the joke was among friends. There was a million and one things Mr. Anselmo could’ve done in the name of comedy.   It doesn’t stop with Anselmo’s antics either.  Heavier music has a very offensive visual aesthetic. Shock value is paramount in the genre. Gore, anti-Christian themes are found throughout rock music over the years. Take a look at Slayer.  A band that I have a tremendous amount of  musical respect for.   Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are HUGE influences on my playing to this day. Seasons in the Abyss was constant tape in the walkman as a 12 year old kid, and I STILL bump South of Heaven TO. THIS. DAY.  But there is a lot of Nazi imagery with Slayer.  Like a REALLY LOT.  Apparently it’s all for “shock value”.  And that makes it okay right?  I mean if a bunch of Neo-Nazi’s show up at the Slayer show, it’s not Slayer’s  fault? They didn’t invite that kind of attention at all…? Again, when someone questions all the Nazi paraphernalia, then you’re too “PC”, “sensitive”.  “It’s there to be shocking”.  This base level of shock value is getting a bit stale if you ask me. Didn’t we see this already in the 70’s with the punk bands like the Sex Pistols and all the swastikas?  It seems less “shocking” and it comes off more like these bands are pandering to what they perceive is their fan base wants to see.  And maybe they’re right.  Maybe this is the norm and I’m actually being too sensitive? Maybe, I’m out here in a genre that I don’t belong in?   2016-01-24 15.42.23

 

I definitely feel like I don’t belong in heavy music sometimes. Especially because, like A LOT of people of color in in heavier rock groups, there is always a white guy in  the group to give them validity. There is a feeling of novelty when we see bands that are majority colored folks.  For a long time, Cyndy and I didn’t even want to be seen.  We never wanted our race/gender to ever be an issue.  I would say 99% of the time when we’re touring we are the only people that look like us in the venue. For a lot of people that can be uncomfortable.  We’ve definitely walked into some venues and felt that every eye was centered on us.  More often than not it’s because you’re in a small town and people can tell  you’re an outsider.  Sometimes it’s because you’re colored and there are none in the area.  But we want you to understand we’re not coming to these towns as some sort of social experiment, we just want to share these tunes with the people and have some fun.  Expel some emotional demons and meet some new people, and maybe even make some new friends. We’ve made some amazing friends in what some people would consider areas where we shouldn’t be. But we want to get past our exteriors.  Music, for me can be a unifying tool.  Specially heavy music.  It’s like a family. When I see someone wearing a  Metallica shirt for example, they are my heavy metal brethren. We now have a common bond that will allow us to build a friendly  dialogue. Just two metal dudes discussing the music and the culture that we’re passionate about. That love of the music is bigger than the color of our skin.  Right? That’s the what got me into metal.  The bond over this music that most dismiss as noise. The bond of my brothers and sisters that understand the cathartic nature of the mosh pit.  For the fans of heavy music, it’s the soundtrack to our lives. I hate having that musical sanctuary polluted with “accidental” racial bigotry hidden under the thin veil of humor or edginess.  This is just my take on a situation my wife and I see and we felt it was time that it was addressed. How you guys feel on the subject.

 

-Jason