Harmless Fun or Mental Poison?
At a live rock concert, one of the performers placed a woman in a box and proceeded to chop into the box with an ax. Fake blood spurted up into the performer’s mouth, which he spit into the audience.
In 1984 a 19-year-old boy shot himself. His parents claim that his suicide was spurred by the lyrics of a rock song called “Suicide Solution.”
A teen magazine published accounts of the perverted sex carried on by a band in their dressing room as well as in the studio during the recording of music. A rock album contained an obscene poster of male and female genitals.
VIOLENCE, suicide, and sadistic sex—these are only some of the unwholesome topics featured in rock records, in videos, and at live concerts. When issues about these degrading programs are raised and even go to court, artists and recording companies try to explain away these objectionable features. For example, an obscene painting is now said to be support for a statement about the “mental corruption in American Society and how it is ultimately destroying us.” Similarly, in some music, words that are clearly metaphors for the male sex organ (such as guns or knives) are now claimed to be literal.
Artists and recording companies may escape judicial penalties, but are people really fooled? Are you? Can you deny that violence, sex, and the occult are vital ingredients in the hard rock music that sells today?
Heavy Metal and Rap
Down through the years, many categories of rock have developed. Two styles, heavy metal and rap, have recently come under attack for shocking indecency.
Heavy metal is generally energetic, highly amplified electronic music with a pounding beat. According to Time magazine, “metal musicians play to the alienated fantasies of a mostly white, young and male audience by portraying themselves as disillusioned outsiders who have turned their backs on a corrupt civilization.” Much of heavy metal is designed to shock. Some of its lyrics are unprintable. A medical journal in Texas observed that many of the expressions in heavy metal glorify “unconventional attitudes concerning sex, violence, hate, and the occult.”
The violence associated with heavy metal is another concern. For example, when one show had to be stopped because the singer became ill, the audience rioted and even set fire to the arena. At another concert three youths were smothered to death when thousands of fans surged toward the stage, knocking down people in front and then trampling them.
In rap music, also known as hip-hop, a vocalist (or vocalists) chants rhymes over a rhythmic background, often provided by a computerized technique known as sampling. Most rap music is created by black musicians but marketed to audiences both black and white. A few rap messages are positive, taking a stand against such things as child abuse and the misuse of drugs. Nevertheless, most rap centers on rebellion against authority, violence, hatred of women, and racism. Many pieces contain profanity and lewd descriptions of sexual activity.
Violence has been a problem at some rap concerts. At one concert, 300 gang members attacked the audience, which struck back with metal chairs until the police came and broke up the concert. Forty-five persons were injured.
Last year, the New York State Sheriffs Association called for a boycott of all firms owned by Time Warner, Inc., until the company removed the rap song “Cop Killer” from store shelves. The head of the sheriffs’ group, Peter Kehoe, said: “This recording spews hate and encourages and glorifies the killing of police officers. As a direct result of this song, cops will be killed.” Eventually, it was removed from the market.
Are There Effects?
When musicians sing about evil or even act it out on stage, what effect does this have on listeners and viewers? Consider the following observations and experiences.
Dr. Carl Taylor, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, asserts that rock stars are “promoting a life-style. . . . The band members do influence the kids, very much so.”
One boy who survived a suicide attempt said that the music lulled him and his friend (whose suicide was successful) into thinking that “the answer to life is death.”
In 1988 three teenagers killed a friend just for the fun of it. One of them claimed that the fascination with death began with heavy metal music.
Following one rap concert, teenagers went on a window-smashing rampage. The public safety commissioner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that rap music spurs violence.”
A study of youths and satanic cults revealed that many of those involved in Devil worship are heavy drug users and listen to heavy metal music, which glorifies drug use and encourages sexual immorality. As a result, vulnerable young people are attracted to satanic cults.
Of course, when youths are moved to drug abuse, crime, or suicide, there is likely more behind such behavior than music. Breakdown of family life and of human society in general doubtless plays a major part. But the music can serve as a catalyst, a means of encouraging vulnerable young people to do things they might not otherwise even contemplate. Do people already disheartened by life’s troubles need music that encourages them to give in to destructive inclinations?
The point is that bad music can serve as mental poison to its listeners. Remember, the messages in such music are all the more powerful because they come from stars, heroes, who are virtually worshiped by their fans.
What About You?
What music do you listen to? Perhaps you are already cautious about the music you choose, and that is commendable. On the other hand, if you are among those who listen to music of a degrading or even questionable nature, have you been adversely affected? Even if your behavior has not changed, can you honestly say that your attitude has not been affected for the worse? After all, repeated exposure to unwholesome topics can desensitize you, causing you to feel that the subjects are not so bad.
Consider the example of a young man who tried to blend his life as a Christian with a steady diet of heavy metal and rap. He was not driven to such actions as murder, suicide, or Devil worship. But note how his attitude was affected. He declared: “This music is extremely animalistic. It allowed me to operate in a calm and collected way while giving vent to the most degraded and violent leanings. . . . I lived in a fantasy world of hate. No day went by without my seriously contemplating suicide.” He decided to make a complete change in his listening habits. When he did, his attitude showed great improvement.
Defenders of degrading music will argue to justify the dark side of rock music. But what are your conclusions? Can you close your eyes and ears to the extreme degradation of its subject matter? Could you attend concerts such as those described earlier with no fear for your safety? And what about the connection between such music and the shameful activity of its performers and listeners?
If you care about your health, you likely shun foods that might hurt you even if they are tasty. Unwholesome music, whether rock or any other style, is a threat to your mental health. Would you want to expose yourself to mind-poisoning entertainment? Of course not. So, what can you do to have a sane, balanced view of this matter? Please consider the points presented in the next article.
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What Is Devil Worship?
Devil worship, encouraged by some heavy metal lyrics, is not harmless fun. Texas Medicine/The Journal explained that such worship includes practices ranging from “benign ritualistic activities to drinking blood from self-mutilation and animal sacrifices.” Satanic cults proclaim “an allegiance to the devil. Specific rituals are used to channel power from Satan to the followers. . . . The dogma of freedom of choice and will means doing whatever you want with no God, no guilt, and no conscience.” As a result, some engage in criminal activities without shame.
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You wouldn’t put garbage in your stomach. Why put it in your mind?
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Should you feel comfortable attending such an event?