EDITORIAL: The Good and the Bad: Creative Freedom in Metal

The Good and the Bad: 
Creative Freedom in Metal
By Leatis Graves

The topic of creative freedom has been one quickly building lately, something that happens for one reason or another yearly in the Metal community. It doesn’t matter what you think you’re talking about, it usually boils down to this topic; no matter if it’s about occult, pagan, satanic, or atheist imagery; no matter if it’s about sexism, gender roles, or what fans, dancers, and bands are wearing while they sing. The fact remains that, while people are out there fighting for the goodness and greatness of certain communities and genders, no matter the case a person is going to be stepping on another’s freedom to express.

Metal, the entire genre and all of its sub-genre's, are completely open. This it’s one major benefit. People parade on against and about religion and, since there are a lot of people on both sides, others are drawn to those opinions and subjects – both of them. So, when it comes to sexism, women, and all then the same applies: there are people on both sides of the coin. It is not necessarily the problem, it is the natural condition of full creative freedom. You don’t have to go far to find bands almost completely dedicated to the defamation of women, races, and hell, even children. When you find them, you’ll find thousands backing up and agreeing to their form of expression. It’s an outspoken genre, driven by extremely loud opinions in which everyone has the right to express – even if we do not like the opinions being presented. To simply presume that the only issue present in metal is sexism is startlingly shortsighted and circumstantial at best. I may have only been on this earth a short twenty-seven years but I’ve seen more bands and fans stand up against it than anything else, and I’ve also seen my fair share of those who wish to simply jump on the ‘all metal is this and it needs to stop’ bandwagon –just because they can get a little attention- more than I ever should have. Truth be told, there is no actual battle to be fought. Because, if everyone was to remove all the negative opinions about certain genders or sexualities, then that would be infringing on the creative integrity of metal as a whole. Once you remove something simply because others don’t agree, then you have all sorts of people doing the same. No, I don’t feel it’s fair that SOME bands and groups treat women unfairly. However, I don’t feel it’s fair that I’ve been attacked for being a straight white male in my time either or that some of these ‘activists’ feel the need to treat me like I’m lesser because I was born that way. Though, I don’t feel the need to stifle their opinions on the matter. It’s not a political uproar to me: it’s an opinion of others. And, guess what? You have the right to your own opinion; your informed opinion.

The saddest truth of these constant debacles is that the people who empower these sexist, racist, and what-have-you bands are those that are against them. We all know the saying: all publicity is good publicity. When you are posting about these groups and fans who treat women so badly, take into consideration that you are driving up their views, making them more visible to like-minded people, and overall making them more visible to everyone. With the internet, where there are people who openly delve into every activity imaginable, this does not put the problem out into the open. It simply empowers, it pushes the muck up from the bottom and some people simply love the filth. But, every top does need a bottom. And, sadly, to remove it is to kick the legs out from beneath you and all band’s freedoms. Your opinion IS valid but so is that of those on the opposite side of the spectrum.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t believe that the community I’ve loved so long has resorted to such petty ways and bickering. Especially when the best and most sensible conclusion is to not draw attention to what you love, not bring the hatefulness out. However, despite how everyone goes on about the media doing just the same: we are all now doing the same. Nothing is worth talking about unless it is bad and nobody wants to see the good in anything. I, personally, have nothing against women as a whole, only individuals that have actually wronged me – including men. I say have a good time, make music, and like whatever you so choose. But, do not expect everyone to conform to some pseudo-utopian ideal. Everyone has something to say and no matter how popular or unpopular the opinion is to others: they all have the right to express it, especially in music.