“My name is Lucifer! Please take my hand!”
So sang Ronnie James Dio as I dug Black Sabbath’s Live Evil on my commute recently.
I got to thinking about the anti-rock crusaders of my childhood railing against the devil in heavy metal music, and considered that a Black Sabbath album was a place that you really could find such. (It was actually ubiquitous and nefariously disguised, according to the crusaders.)
Not that Black Sabbath, Dio, or anyone else making heavy metal music had any interest in their listeners worshipping Satan. It was theater, and despite the breathless proclamations of these road show stooges, the impressionable little kiddies who took it seriously almost didn’t exist.
I remember thinking at the time that these anti-rock guys did what they did because it was easy. The bad guys were remote, and unable to speak in their own defense. There was certainly no shortage of conservative churches ready to pay them to come in. So how can we “help” our children? Well, going after drug dealers is hard, and the kids won’t listen if we talk to them about integrity and personal responsibility. So let’s demonize Cheap Trick instead.
Consider that it was Generation X who essentially destigmatized the idea of children being born to unmarried parents. Oh, we didn’t do it in the numbers that are happening today, but it was first “okay” with us. Ditto the hookup/friends-with-benefits culture that is the established norm on so many college campuses now.
Those are things that were hard to talk about, and our letting them go over the cliff has been disastrous for society. What if the anti-rock guys had been as passionate about those issues? Could we have applied any effort to prevent the disaster? Was the scope of the threat recognizable?
Can we be honest about them today, speaking frankly about their negative effects, instead of babbling about microaggression and issuing trigger warnings?