Scraping Genius Off The Wheel

METALHEADS: CUT THE SH*T AND STOP SUPPORTING BURZUM

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Nobody should have been surprised. Varg Vikernes’ odious, conspiratorial, anti-Semitic commentary on the Norway tragedy is just the latest statement of ignorance from the man behind black metal’s most infamous project, Burzum. You’re welcome to read it if you’re into swastikas or crackpot theories for the tinfoil hat set. Your time would be better spent watching dubstep remixes of Charlie Sheen interviews on YouTube.

Interest in Vikernes’ music appears to have spiked in the wake of his 2009 release from prison, having served twenty-one years for arson and murder. A new Burzum record emerged in 2010, and another one followed just this past March. Music journalists have leapt at the opportunity to interview Vikernes, with print venues like Decibel giving the man the cover treatment and inducting his Filosofem LP into its “Hall Of Fame.” I’ve sat dumbstruck at the fawning softball questions posed to him by writers for outlets like Guitar World, Invisible Oranges, and, much to my chagrin, this very site. (Full disclosure: The interviewer on that last one is a personal friend.)

Why do metalheads choose to support Vikernes?

First, we have to accept that there those in the metal community that share or at least sympathize with Vikernes’ noxious views of Jews, blacks, and other non-whites. I’m not suggesting that they are the majority, but to deny the existence of white nationalists, anti-Semites and racists — overt and covert — in this scene is foolish and ignorant. But that leaves a whole lot of other people who still own Burzum albums, including colleagues and friends of mine who don’t seem to mind my personal jumble of heritages. So what about them?

Stereogum contributor Brandon Stosuy prefaced his 2010 interview with Vikernes with a drawn-out explanation of why he listens to Burzum:

Yeah, of course, admitting to enjoying Burzum in public raises a number of questions and opens you up for attack. For starters, what are my “responsibilities” as a listener and a consumer? Huge questions, but questions fans of extreme music, art, etc., will inevitably have to face at some point unless they’re willfully keeping their eyes closed. I’ve always tried to unpack and understand things that challenge me and my beliefs. I read difficult books, enjoy difficult art, etc.

Stosuy, one of the few bold enough to directly ask Vikernes tough questions, may have given more thought to the “whys” of supporting Burzum than most, but what I’ve quoted above hits at the heart of the matter. People are often drawn to metal music for its dark imagery and subject matter. But where’s the limit?

Today, metalheads have to ask themselves: do we really want to associate with someone whose opinions are so intolerant and vile simply because he can write a tune? That’s indefensible without making shameful apologies and excuses. No amount of pseudo-philosophy or separating-the-music-from-the-man is going to make it okay.

So cut the shit; stop supporting Burzum. Don’t buy Vikernes’ records, don’t visit his website, don’t put up with publications giving him a forum or legitimizing him. And if you’re a journalist, stop covering him. There are so many other bands out there to enjoy, so many other ways to spend your time.

Face it: you’ve stopped listening to other bands over less.

-GS

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