WARNING: THE FOLLOWING RANT HAS SWEARIE BITS AND SELF-INDULGENT WAFFLING/PARANOIA...
ARE you sitting comfortably? Well you shouldn't be! You should be looking at your 'net favourites to see is there anything that an innocent wee child could be offended by should they 'encounter it'.
You should be outraged!
Have ever watched a rock/metal music video with a 'violent' or 'sexual' theme? Yes? Well, there is the very real possibility that age rating will put those beyond 9 o'clock, if note air completely and channels will be clogged with pop-punk derivative drivel in the meantime. The director's artistic and poignant interpretation of Metallica's cover of Bob Seger's 'Turn the Page would never have been made let alone seen.
Why these dire predictions?
For those of you not inclined to watch what passes for news on the telly, on the radio and our snoozepapers, you will have missed the fact that the Tory party backed investigation into the sexualisation of children was published this week past.
And what has this to do with hard rock and heavy metal?
Well for a start, even the most reactionary bands object to censorship; but more importantly, hard rock and heavy metal will be collateral damage when the Tories begin the pressure on the music and fashion business to adopt voluntary codes or else the big legislative stick comes out.
[There now follows a brief historical interlude for younger readers...]
Back in the 1980s heavy metal and hard rock strode the continents, powerful, potent and selling albums by the bucket load. Oh, and the Tories were in power, and right wing politics was in vogue in the USA.
Along came a spider web of organisations with the claim of being the moral majority. Leading the fascist anti-freedom of speech charge was the PMRC. Everytime you see one of those pathetic "Parental Advisory" stickers, it's thanks to Tipper Gore and her PMRC mates. To realise how insane these people were, consider the fact that they published a 'Filthy 15' of songs that would corrupt youth. Consider the fact that Def Leppard were lumped in with WASP, and Venom with Cyndi Lauper...
Misinformed views of what hard rock and heavy metal's themes, memes and attitude were further perpetuated; the cultural value of each and every band and each and every fan was denigrated. As collateral damage escalated, Judas Priest and Ozzy found themselves in court rooms on ridiculous charges that were laughed out of court.
Fast forward now to 2011, and the Tories are back in power with their judas lapdog Lib Dems in close attendance to whatever shit pours from David Cameron's disingenous mouth.
The Tories commissioned a report into the sexualisation of children. Did they ask an expert in the field, an academic with years of experience in the field? Did they trawl the UK and further afield for experts who could present a balanced view?
No, the Tories, in their infinite wisdom appointed a Mr Reg Bailey, the Chief Executive of the Mother's Union and former boss of Danish Bacon. An obvious choice really - administrator in chief for a christian organisation even less interesting than the WI, who in his previous job used to order the mass importation of pig flesh to under-cut local farmers. An obvious choice when you're a Tory Daily Mail reader really...
So what in the name of Sabbath has this all got to do with hard rock and heavy metal?
Well, this report into sexualisation is so vague about everything that whatever you do, say or watch could be interpreted as sexualising something. And this is the bogey word of the generation. As soon as you link sex and anything to do with 'under 18s' The Scum readers, sorry The Sun Page 3 readers, haul their semi-literate arses onto the bandwagon and radio phone-ins.
Let's be clear about something before I go any further. As a father I believe that paedophiles deserve to face the full force of the law with the maximum possible sentences imposed upon each and every one of their crimes...and then they should up to be administered several firm boots in the 'ballix' on behalf of society.
Some of the shit pouring forth from a gullible press was about under-10 girls wearing suggestive t-shirts. Is that any worse than a six-year-old boy wearing a Man U shirt with Giggs on the back?
And remember - just because the child is wearing a stupid wannabe WAG t-shirt doesn't mean she understands any of it, it just means she has stupid parents.
Back to the vague plot here...hard rock and heavy metal exist on the fringes of a society defined by a snobbish so-called intelligentsia who flaunt their media studies 'let's pretend their real degrees' as they denegrate rock.
In this Tory inspired atmosphere of fear and overtly paternal protectionism, where do you think the views of the prudes will fall when it comes to rock and metal?
Will they consider Slayer's output under what Kerry King says is extreme storytelling? Or will consider Journey's Don't Stop Believing as an ode to anonymous sexual adventures of the lonely? Will Metallica's 'Disposable Heroes' be declared too anti-war? Will Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" be the final "satanist" nail that sees all non -approved music banned.
Yes, that stretches reality as it is today. But if Rhianna is deemed too raunchy by these self-appointed guardians of taste and decency what will they make of WASP's Animal, or any given Cradle of Filth song?
The problem is that the righteous always seem to know the things to say no to. The very darkest metal, the most melancholic hard rock, and the most indignant punk has a life-affirming quality the X-Factor wannabes will never have. But we must stand together with the numpty mime artist, over-dubbed, auto-tuned, pro-tooled z-listers just this once. The censors are prowling. In their wake comes the churches. In their wake come the blackshirts of oppression.
It might be over-egging the threat, but next thing you know creationism is being taught as secientific fact despite thousands of actual proper scientists having the burden of proof on their side: next thing the priests of the Temple of Syrinx (Rush reference slipped clumsily in there!) will determine what we listen to, what is approved and what haircut you must have as you punch in the wage slave clock.
Hard rock and heavy metal has never presented itself as a counter-culture, it has never been a 'movement'.
In the 80s the anti-rock hype led to albums belonging to a guy I went to school with being burned by his evangelical parents.
Now that's a little too close to the Nazis book-burning, the Stalin-esque purges, or the totalitarian régimes in any number of countries.
Don't raise your voices, don't enter into debate with the censors right now. Just keep being who we all are: those who play in bands, those who watch those bands, those who write and comment about it. When the time comes to resist the censor we'll know that, together, we are louder, we are prouder and we are a music family you will never silence.