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In April of 1999, two students shot 15 fellow students and a teacher in Columbine High School. A few years before that, a teenage boy committed suicide in his bedroom. What do these two have in common? In both instances, their choice of music was to blame. Alternative music has been the center of a lot of controversy as well as a scapegoat for many adolescent tragedies. This type of music is meant to be different and it is being persecuted because artists do not fall into the categories of R&B and pop rock. Music is the artist’s livelihood and religion. Condemning the music is breaching both an artist’s freedom of expression and religion.
Millions of teenagers listen to alternative rock groups such as Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails every day. These same teenagers walk into their schools every morning and don’t blow their classmates’ heads off. These same teenagers don’t go home and blow their own brains off. However when these things do happen, parents all over the country start protesting against the entire genre of alternative rock.
Alternative rock has become a national scapegoat for adolescent violence. But is it really to blame? The parents that protest are probably the same ones that deny that the teens lashed out because of bad parenting. Of course it can’t be that because parents such as themselves are all perfect. This sort of attitude is precisely why teenagers respond to their environment so violently. Parents refuse to get help because they’re afraid of how they as parents would be perceived. Some parents even refuse to admit that there is a problem in the first place.
With this view, parents often search for something else that might have caused such violent behavior. That is where alternative rock comes in. Parents say that it breaches hate, violence, and anti-Christianity. However, are they really protesting these issues or the way the artists look? Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca glorifies a prostitute but there wasn’t a huge uprising over it. He even makes a music video that is near pornographic. Ricky Martin is off the hook because he has a pretty face. He can do anything and sing anything he wants as long as it is legal. On the other hand, if Marilyn Manson calls their CD “Anti-Christ Superstar,” the whole country erupts in disbelief. This shallow hypocrisy is enough to make anyone sick.
Marilyn Manson’s lead singer looks like he has a glass eye and wears a thong to the MTV Music Awards. Trent Reznor of the Nine Inch Nails swings anvils from his nipple rings. No, this may not be the “normal,” acceptable behavior, but who determines what is or is not normal? Should an entire genre be condemned because a few bands don’t fit the norm? There are plenty of alternative rock groups that don’t have glass eyes or swinging anvils such as Stone Temple Pilots, Garbage, and Hole. By denouncing alternative rock, the country is restricting these bands’ freedom of expression, and that is not the kind of moral foundation the Constitution was built on.
There are others who say alternative rock groups are infamous for drug use. So are athletes, rappers, and George W. Bush. They may not always be seen in a favorable light either but rarely do you see parents suing the Dallas Cowboys for being a bad influence. You also won’t see Bush being chased out of the presidential elections. On the contrary, surveys show that Bush is leading in the polls.
The longer people attack the artists of alternative rock, the more distracted they become from the real issues. Parents are so concerned with shutting down Marilyn Manson concerts that they are missing the signs of trouble in their kids. One of the main reasons teenagers act out the way they do is because they are not getting enough attention from the parents. Hopping on a plane to join a anti-rock demonstration is not the way to solve that problem.
There is no reason why alternative rock should be made a scapegoat. It is a type of music that appeals to teenagers. The way a message is interpreted is not the fault of the artist. Obviously, the
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Marilyn Manson, MTV, Trent Reznor, Hip hop music
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