The Media's Favorite Music Scapegoats
As predictable as the tide, American media follows every single report of a violent mass tragedy with finger-pointing at their favorite scapegoat targets. Music is one of the perennial favorites. This goes back in history almost to the dawn of mankind, by the way. Every new generation's music is blamed by the previous generation for every imaginable ill of society and ten more they have to make up. If the very next headline you clicked on was "Herpes is caused by dubstep, says local pastor", you'd not be the tiniest bit surprised.
There's some music artists that get blamed every time there's a mass violence tragedy. They've quit protesting this years ago, and just take it in stride:
- Marilyn Manson - The poster child for "media scapegoat". Named after every school shooting since Columbine. So much so, that he has quite a chunk of screen time in Michael Moore's excellent (and always relevant) documentary Bowling For Columbine in an interview speaking his piece about the phenomenon.
- Eminem - The unexpected second-runner. Being a rapper, trust that he gets blamed more for the "glorifying drugs and gangs" angle.
- Ozzy Osbourne - Typically, he gets blamed for the teen suicides. One of the few artists to have actually been a defendant in court for just this charge.
- Judas Priest - The other band that gets blamed for teen suicides. Also have actually been defendants in court for just this charge. Don't forget the whole "Satanic messages recorded backwards thing", too.
- AC/DC - The old guard, blamed for serial killers over the past several decades.
- The Beatles - Don't forget that, since Charles Manson invoked them quite often, they were likewise held up as scapegoats for the Manson murders.
The fascinating question is: What is it about certain bands and artists that draw this kind of fire from media motormouths? There's all kinds of music more popular, more hedonistic, better selling, and so on, that never draws the scapegoat card.
Just for an example of how old this is: Wagner. Yes, we mean the Ring Cycle opera Wagner. Wagner's opera were popular in Germany and hence popular with a certain Fascist movement in the 1940s you're sure to be familiar with - so after the war, guess whose music was frowned upon as tainted in the media?
A few music celebrities have the grit to strike back. Among them:
- Insane Clown Posse - In their song "Terrible", they actually call out specific incidents of scapegoating other music acts and ending up with them daring the media to come after them - because they "could use the money!"
- GWAR - in their song "The Morality Squad", which pretty much says it all in the title right there. While we're name-dropping GWAR, here's GWAR on the Joan Rivers Show being absolutely hilarious.
- Amanda Palmer - calling out a related trope, video game scapegoating, in her song "Guitar Hero". Which we already blogged here.
It's doubtful that we'll ever be rid of these superstitious fools who blame tragedies on random, unrelated things. After all, even before music, the human capacity for magical thinking manifested itself in the idea of "bad luck" - and so we get black cats crossing your path, walking under ladders, and spilling salt.
Think it will ever get better? Here's actress Suzanne Summers blaming the Newtown massacre on nutrition and household toxins: