For generations those who want to attack a political faction would label them with something they knew would stick, something that would stigmatize association with them.  After World War II many Americans were accused of being Communist, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Martin Luther King.  And recently many commentators and even members of Congress have called the Tea Party and town hall activists racists and radicals.  But this tactic has not been limited to the political arena. 

In 1994, at one point the Texas heavy metal band Pantera had the number one album in the nation.  At one time another hard rock band named Prong was doing very well too.  This did not sit well with many who were pushing the “less in more” alternative thing.  Even in St. Louis we often heard, “I can’t believe that they are playing those rednecks in this day and age.”  We found this attitude to be ridiculous, beside the fact that they were a phenomenal band with one of the world’s best guitar players, Dimebag Darrel. 

Pantera being a popular act was incompatible with the MTV alternative music format. Singer Phil Anselmo was embroiled in a controversy when he accused MTV of discrimination against him when they blocked out parts of the band’s video where guns were showing, but allowed the guns to be shown in the gangsta rap video’s.  Phil was right, as he often was.  After the station made this move against his band, they played a video from Warren G called “Regulators”, were it shows Warren G’s partna Nate Dog shooting a bunch of guys trying to rob Warren during a craps game.  The lyrics for this scene were

“I laid all those bustas down I let my gat explode,…………now it’s time to switch to freak mode.”

The music for this song was excellent, and Nate Dogg was actually a good singer.  But the idea of killing a bunch of people and then going to hook up with a bunch of women may seem a little offensive to some.  We do not advocate censorship, but Phil’s point was that he did not feel that the scene from his video was any more objectionable than these images that were prevalent on the  channel.

Phil also said in several interviews that he was not going to conform to the trends of the day, and that Pantera would stay heavy metal throughout.

MTV began running stories about how “other people” where saying that Phil Anselmo was racist.  Tabitha Soren, an MTV news anchor (that’s right) told a story about how Phil Anselmo had used a racial slur directed toward the security guards.  However, they had no sound on this, and no eye witness accounts or interviews.  The entire piece was done on rumors. 

They persisted with this line of  assumption for several months.  Another time that year, MTV did a piece on how “other people” found racism in the lyrics for that number one albumn “Far Beyond Driven” .  There was one song on their that aggressively dealt with race, but they had the wrong song! 

The news commentators began reading the lyrics to “Use My Third Arm”, and said that the lines “A faster way to kill them all” was about black people.  Actually if you read further you see that we was this was not the case.  The lines “NARC boy” and “sucking up to the man” reveal he is talking about drug informants.   

Not that we advocate killing police informants, but the fact was that they had their references all wrong.  Whether through negligence or intentional misdirection  this worked to stigmatize Pantera with many MTV viewers.  True Pantera fans knew better than this, but it was still grossly unfair. 

The song that would have made sense to discuss would have been “Five Minutes Alone”.  But this was not a racist song either.  This song is about rejecting the notion that it is alright to denigrate and discriminate against a person because he is white, based on past injustices.  Phil opines.

I read your eyes, your mind made was made up.  You took me for a fool.  you used complexion of my skin for counter racist tool.  -You can’t burn me- I’ve spilled my guts out in the past.  Taken advantage of because you know where I’ve come from.  My past

 This is hardly a racist sentiment, unless you accept the Jeanine Garofalo’s world view.  In fact, as black person  who saw this stuff all the time, I actually respect those who stand up to the Reverend Jerry “broke down George Jefferson” garbage.  Anselmo’s  charge that “you cry for compensation, I ask you please just give us five minutes alone” is an honest reaction to someone trying to take advantage of you.

We trust someone who will will not back down to race mongering more than those that pander to it.  

On the band’s previous album “Vulgar Display of Power”, their rejection of racism is clear.  In the song “No good(Attack The Radical), Phil denounces hate groups of all races:

You blame oppression and play the role of criminals, yo rape and burn show progress is minimal.  White Hoods and militants you know it’s such a pity, living, breathing, violence in your city.”   His solution, “you feel inferior.  Be superior, and know your interior.”

Sounds good to me!  Another song on that album “Rise” exhorts “forgive, forget, be a man not a child,” and “make pride universal so no one gives in”, as he speaks to “every creed and every color.”  They call out bigots on all sides to be subverted by common sense and understanding

So next time you hear some guy on TV telling you that someone is a this or a that, maybe a closer examination of the accused person’s record will reveal them to be someone yu agree with.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: