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Rock Music and Violence

A concert held by the group "Guns N' Roses" (July 2, 1991 in St Louis, Missouri) ended when the enraged mob of 2500 youths staged a riot, resulting in 60 of their numbers being injured. The journal Rolling Stone informed that the participants in this concert, "developed into a furious uncontrollable mob, hurling bottles, destroying seats, ripping apart bushes, breaking and setting fire to instruments... This riot continued for over an hour before a squad of special police arrived to restore order. (Rolling Stone, Aug. 22, 1975 p 15). This type of violence is far from being an isolated incident.

Sometimes, this type of frantic behavior at rock concerts leads to killings. In a town called Jefferson-Township, (New Jersey), a youth named Thomas Sullivan stabbed his mother, Betty-Ann, to death in the basement of their house. Setting fire to the divan with the aim of destroying the house and killing his father and younger brother, he ran outside and committed suicide by slashing his wrists. All week long before this carnage, Thomas had been humming a rock song about blood and killing your mother. Police later established that Thomas was a talented student, outstanding sportsman and had belonged to the Scouts. He began to dabble in "hard metal" rock music and, before committing his crime, he confided to his friends that Satan appeared to him and ordered the killing of his family.

Different forms of violence are on the increase in rock music. For example in a song titled "I Kill Children" by rock group Dead Kennedy we hear "I kill children, I love to see them die. I kill children to make their mothers cry. I crush them under my car and I love to hear them scream. I feed them poison candy and spoil their Halloween. I kill children, I bang their heads in doors. I kill children, I can hardly wait for yours." In the album "Hell Awaits" the band Slayer has the lyrics: "No apparent motive. Just kill and kill again. Survive my brutal slashing. I'll hunt you till the end."

Iron Maiden's mascot is "Eddy" a dead man who kills with great delight. According to Satanist and brutal murderer Richard Ramirez (the "Night Stalker"), it was AC/ DC's song "Night Prowler" that became part of his motivation to murder 30 people. He said the song gave him "inspiration. "Night Prowler" contains the stanza, "No one's gonna warn you, no one's gonna yell 'attack!' and you can't feel the steel until it's hanging out your back, I'm your night prowler."

One study revealed that of the 700 most popular songs of "heavy metal," 50% speak of killings, 35% of satanism and 7% about suicide. Sheila Davis, professor of lyric writing at New York University, is convinced that "better give serious attention to the content of pop songs and to evaluate not only what lyrics are saying to society but, more important, what they may be doing to it" (USA Today, October 11, 1985, p. 10).

The National Council of Churches published their findings that the growing aggressive behavior of youths appears as the direct result of the violent content of contemporary films and music (USA Today, Oct. 11, 1985).

Parallel to the inner aggressiveness, this destructive feeling can appear directed against the music listener. Some rock music composers preach suicide - sometimes through hints and sometimes directly. For example, Ozzy Osbourne's song, "Suicide Solution" advocates suicide: "Suicide - this is the only way out..." In "Suicide's an Alternative" the following is sung: "Sick of life - it sucks / sick and tired - no one cares / sick of myself - don't wanna live / sick of living - gonna die / suicide's an alternative." "Sacrifice your life and commit suicide. By doing this in the name of satan, you will become immortal, just like him!" are some of the words sung in one of the "hard metal" songs dedicated to Lucifer.

Educational psychologist, Dr. Hannelore Wass, considered an expert on death and dying, indicated that while only 17% of teenagers listen to music containing manifestly destructive contents, among the youthful criminals this figure reaches 40%. Apart from this, nearly 50% of those interviewed acknowledged the possibility that these types of songs could really incline an unbalanced or grief-stricken young person toward suicide. Dr. Wass concluded that these detailed interviews with young people show the need for parents to watch what their children are listening to, and to pay attention to any emerging symptoms of abnormality. (Wass, et. al, "Adolescents' Interest" p. 186, sampled 700 adolescents. The themes were: homicide, suicide and satanism. Cf. Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun").

Similar research prompted the National Education Association to conclude that nearly 6000 teenage suicides a year are brought about by the influence of nihilistic and fatalistic music (Information for Parents' Music Resource Center, Nashville, TN. 1990).

Dr. Morton Kurlan a Palm Springs psychiatrist whose patient, John McCollum, committed suicide after listening to an Ozzy Osbourne record, stated: "Sadomasochism, blood, and violence make big bucks for the producers of rock videos, but such things can push an emotionally suffering kid over the edge" (Arthur Lyons, Satan Wants You, New York, Mysterious Press, 1988, p.171). And it is well known that millions of contemporary young people are suffering from inner tumult. At this point it is worth considering that the estranged nihilistic and destructive contents of rock-style music actually reflects the disposition and lives of the rock stars. For example, the biography of Pink Floyd Saucerful of Secrets written by band's two former leaders gives vivid examples of the personal tragedy that can stalk the lives of those who glorify excess (Cf. The 1991 Elton John interview with David Frost). Authors Schwarz and Empey observe: "In talking with some of the musicians involved in satanism, as well as individuals they have consulted - researches, psychologists, and psychics - a pattern becomes clear. Like so many others who save chosen satanism over Christianity, they have a desire for immediate gratification and self-fulfillment. 'Money Control. Power. They want the fantasy of being able to live a special life with a lot of wealth,' said a psychologist whose practice includes some of the major names in the rock business. 'And they're willing to die young to pay it off. They see that by giving life early they can have everything ...'

The reality of this statement is obvious when you read the obituaries of rock stars. Many have died from alcoholism, drug abuse, or accidents resulting from their being under the influence of such products (Schwarz and Empey, Satanism: Is Your Family Safe? p. 154).

The very names of some "heavy metal" groups also known as "death metal," glorify death and speak of destruction. Here are some samples: "Blessed Death," "Carnivore," "Coroner," "Destruction," "Mace," "Malice," "Overkill," "Rotten Corpse," "Sacrifice," Violence etc. (Cf. Dave Hart, "Heavy Metal Madness," Media Update, July/Aug. 1989 p. 5).

Brown and Hendee noted that "several murders have been correlated with fascination for heavy metal music and that "another behavioral study found that violent music videos desensitized viewers to violence immediately after viewing."

A Tennessee psychiatrist informed a Senate committee that heavy metal music is "poison" for disturbed adolescents, not to mention substance abusers. It is "like throwing gasoline on the fire of hatred and resentment that's already burning," said Dr. Paul King, Clinical Assistant Professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Tennessee. According to King, more than 8o percent of his adolescent patients have listened to heavy metal for long stretches of time as a daily routine. They were familiar with all the words and wrote them in notebooks and on desks while class was going on (Wass, et. al., Adolescents' Interest, King, "Heavy Metal Music").

To a Christian there is no doubt that blasphemy, vulgarity, debauchery and rape espoused by contemporary rock music cuts right across God's plan for the salvation of people.

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