A tale of two directors

June 13, 2008

Spoiler alert: the big twist ending is that they are both M. Night Shyamalan.

Diane,

It’s become fashionable (well, internet-fashionable) of late to bash M. Night Shyamalan.  Actually I don’t think “bash” is a strong enough word for what the online community is doing to Night.  This is more like we all showed up at his house like those creepy masked fuckers in the trailer for “The Strangers” and announced that we were going to torture him to death, just because he was home.  (Note to self: do not go see “The Strangers.”)  This is an epic gang-rape like that disturbing scene with Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Last Exit to Brooklyn.”  This is the end of “Requiem For a Dream” plus the beginning of “Irreversible” times any random “Bum Fights” DVD.  This is “Free Willy”‘s alternate ending, where Willy leaps into a colossal meatgrinder and the closing shots show a chain of Willyburger franchises filled with happy, bloody-faced customers chowing down.*

What I’m trying to say is, we are fucking M. Night, and we are fucking him hard and against his will.  And I feel really, really bad for the guy.  But not so bad that it’s going to stop me from being honest.

Shyamalan had the misfortune of bursting on to the scene with a confident, well-realized smash hit with one of those great word-of-mouth-building twists at the end.  “The Sixth Sense” was a good picture, not really a great one; but “Bruce is actually a ghost!” was better for business than both the revelation of Keyser Soze’s identity and the free-swinging penis in “The Crying Game.”  It was eloquent and logical in that “Twilight Zone” way, and the movie leading up to the twist was somber, creepy, and effective.  It did huge numbers without alienating the geek community and it gave them A New Hope (the great brown hope?) to cling to.  He was, in many quarters, The Next Spielberg.

Er… yeah.  That didn’t work out, so much.

“Unbreakable” was – for me at least – the point where it became clear that something was up, that the man didn’t quite have it.  Considered in isolation, it’s a bold idea: a superhero movie with nothing exploding and no brightly-colored tights; a comic book flick that is actually a drama and a mystery thriller.  Interesting, right?  And it sort of was, but it also sort of felt like Night was trying to clone the DNA from his successful first model, and just graft some other parts on so we’d think it was a different animal.  But a mouse with an ear on its back is still a mouse.  (Or maybe it’s a mouseketear.  Ba-dump, kssshhh!)  The strain didn’t really show until the ending, when Night tried to wrap things up in basically the “Sixth Sense” fashion – big twist, quick cut to black.  Only in the context of a superhero story, that felt completely unsatisfying.  Walking out of the theater, I felt like they had cancelled the movie after it was 90% done and made do with a freeze frame and explanatory title card in the editing room.  “Samuel L. Jackson is the villain, aren’t you surprised?  And uh – he goes to jail!  The End!”  Shyamalan was quick to announce that this was the first installment in a planned trilogy, which sort of alleviated the dismay but begged another question – namely, should this young pup really be planning to leap straight from his first surprise hit into a trilogy based on a sorta-cool idea and the goodwill of geekdom?  “Unbreakable” didn’t do “trilogy” business though, so those plans were scrapped, and we were left with a curio piece that a few people swear by, but most of us find to be a noble failure.

And then… and then.  Hoo boy.  “Signs” is a divisive movie; I felt divided even as I was watching it.  The direction was very sure-handed (probably his best effort) and certain scenes really pulled you in, in that “next Spielberg” way.  My favorite was probably the scene with them listening to the alien sounds coming from the baby monitor – it’s simple, yet spellbinding; the kind of thing Spielberg is so great at and so few others can do at all.  “Signs” was loaded with such suspense.  It was the missteps in the plot that let it down: the cornball obviousness of the Joaquin Phoenix sub-plot, and the much-whined-about “water kills them, surprise!” twist at the end.  When you both rip off the ending of “War of the Worlds” and also dumb it down about 5000 times, you may need a script doctor.

The less said about “The Village,” the better.  For many this was the first “bad” Shyamalan movie, the one where the bloom was truly off the rose.  For me it was merely more disappointing by a factor of two or three than its predecessors.  The performances were worse and more wooden (in most cases) or just worse in general (in the case of Adrien Brody, who I usually like), and the twist was both obvious and stupid – not a good combination when the twist is what you built your reputation on.  “The Village” felt like Shyamalan running in place and tripping over his own feet at the same time.  “Lady in the Water,” which I did not see, was by all accounts a bigger failure – an epic mistake from a guy flailing around for some cred.  An embarrassment, it was generally held.  It was so hard to find a good review of that movie that I lost any desire to see it.

Now Shyalaman has “The Happening” coming out, and the knives are rasping against each other all ’round the internet.  Rotten Tomatoes has it at 22%, an atrocious rating for a generally critically-acclaimed director (it even beats “Lady in the Water”‘s low mark by two points).  This review posted on Ain’t It Cool News today is the kind of blood-spraying, entrails-hanging evisceration that Shyamalan just can’t afford.  His career and his reputation as an artist are on life support; he needs people to keep the machines plugged in, soothe his fevered brow, maybe drive him to physical therapy once a week.  Instead they’re sitting at his bedside and murmuring about what might be in the will.  Not a good situation.

It’s hard not to notice the disturbing aspects of what is happening to Shyamalan.  Every internet forum has fifty mouthbreathers on it who insist on calling the man “Shyamalamadingdong.”  It’s a racist and xenophobic joke, and it’s also tired as hell – can we at least come up with another way to say “I have no idea how to pronounce the names of people from other countries or ethnic backgrounds”?  The persistence of this bacteria of a joke carries with it a shadowy reflection of Stormfront.org.  We don’t necessarily want to kill the darkies, but if the most arrogant ones can be publicly pilloried, that would be A-OK, wouldn’t it?  I shudder a little every time it pops up (which means my visits to Fark.com involve me vibrating like an epileptic about half the time).  And from another angle, it looks an awful lot like our general fixation on success stories that turn into hymns of failure.  We love our celebs, and we love it even more when they trip over a heroin syringe and fall face-first into a vat of child porn and homemade sex tapes.  We love to see these people get their comeuppance for being better and more ambitious than us.  It’s completely fucked up.

So maybe we’re crucifying Shyamalan for some really sick and wrong reasons.  But then again, maybe we’re crucifying him because his movies have started sucking out loud.  It would sure be nice if Shyamalan would make something halfway decent and clear the picture up for me.

* Not an actual alternate ending to “Free Willy.”  In my happiest dreams, however, this is the alternate ending to any movie starring Bill Pullman.  Pullmanburger – service with a sneer!

 


Oh, Ron Mexico – whyja doit?

July 18, 2007

Diane,

I’m gonna take a stand right now.  Let me be the lone voice in the wilderness.  Here it is:

Michael Vick is a piece of shit.

OK, I’m not the lone voice on this one.  There is a pretty large, unified throng out there calling for his head.  Well, they have my support, sort of.  You won’t spot me in an angry mob wielding a pitchfork, but on the other hand I will never defend this guy; I will not root for+ the Falcons as long as they continue to employ him; and I may seriously consider boycotting the NFL if they continue to handle this in their usual manner of pretending it doesn’t exist because it’s a big star who makes them a lot of money.  I say this now to the league (who of course isn’t listening to me, but might hear the throng): if you can come down hard on Pacman Jones, you have do the same to Mike Vick.  I don’t care if he is a major draw, paid several times more than Pacman to play, and selling jerseys by the warehouse-ful.  You have to suspend the man.

Clearly, Diane, we have a lot to talk about.

First of all, for the people living under rocks and closing their eyes and ears whenever they hear the words “football” or “NFL” on the news, Michael Vick is the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.  He’s a young vet with a handful of years in the league, a man once regarded as The Future, the quarterback who could run better than any halfback and seemed to have stolen Peyton Manning’s laser rocket arm.  In more recent seasons he’s been The Typical Black Quarterback, the guy who can ONLY run and doesn’t get that a quarterback has to look to pass first.  Sorry for the racist implications – I’m just reporting the prevailing sentiment, not my own feelings about Vick as an athlete.  We’ll get back to that (racism) in a minute, because it’s once again rearing its ugly head in this new mess.  Anyway, Michael Vick is a very high-profile athlete who makes a shit-ton of money and (some would say) maintained his starting job with the Falcons more because of the merch he sells than the wins he gets or what he does for his team.  He’s been embroiled in some recent scandals that were more hilarious than damning.  There was Vick, getting tested for herpes under the pseudonym Ron Mexico, which is basically the best alias ever.  And there he was getting busted for trying to take pot on a plane in a water bottle.  Small-time stuff that played well on “The Daily Show.”

Well, earlier this summer, a property that Vick owned, and on which some friends and/or relatives of Vick’s were staying, was outed as a dog-breeding and -fighting location.  He got rid of it like you’d get rid of a carton of milk with a three year old expiration date that you found behind a kitchen cabinet – quickly and with great prejudice.  He made a statement to the media that indicated he wasn’t involved, didn’t know what was going on.

Yesterday, Vick was indicted on federal charges.  No more statements to the press, no more denials.  The property’s sold but the stain is permanent.  Vick is that guy who raises pit bulls for fighting.  That guy who bets 30 or 40 thousand on a single fight, on his own dogs.  More to the point, he’s that guy who personally killed pits that didn’t meet his standards, who was present when one dog was repeatedly slammed to the ground until it died, because it failed “the tests.”

Er, allegedly.  He’s ALLEGEDLY that guy.

Here’s our first issue, Diane.  In this country we are innocent until proven guilty.  None of us want to be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.  And that’s right; that’s the way the system should work.  I don’t want Vick to be sent to prison on the basis of the fact that it’s obvious to any right-thinking person that he was involved in this to an unacceptable degree* (which is to say, almost any degree).  Vick should get his day in court, and if the feds can’t convict him, he deserves to go free.  But the league should come down on him anyway.

Look, the NFL is not a government organization.  Our taxes (our local taxes) may help pay for a lot of what they do, but the league is a private enterprise.  They don’t have to wait for Vick’s federal trial to wrap up before they make a decision.  They can, and should, suspend him today.  They should kick his ass out of the league for at least a season.  And if he gets prison time, they can add on to that.  The NFL has a business reason to make this decision, which is that Vick’s new scandal is a black mark on the league.  The NBA has been flailing around in recent years, in part because of a decline in the sport and the loss of its megastar (Jordan), but also in part because of severe image problems stemming from one scandal after another.  Sadly, some of these were due to the fucked-up roster and delusional management of my own favorite team, the Pacers – but that’s a subject for another day.  Anyway, what the NFL does not want to do is follow the NBA down its dark alley.  If they have in the past been guilty of looking the other way on stars’ indiscretions and misdemeanors and felonies in the interests of the bottom line, they now need to make the opposite decision for the same reason.  The amount of jerseys Vick sells (including hilarious ones that say “Mexico” or “Ookie” on the back**) will not compensate for the damage done to the league if they keep him around.  We’re not talking about PETA or Humane Society campaigns, though both of those are coming, and would assuredly target the league if necessary.  No, we’re talking about indictments (multiple) on federal charges, and the widespread disgruntlement of fans who aren’t prepared to see America’s New Sport in the same light as NBA (“buncha thugs!”) or baseball (“buncha steroid-swollen assholes!”).  It’s hard enough for us to turn a blind eye to the NFL’s obvious steroid issue, but this one is a stick in the eye.  You can’t ignore it.

The NFL also should do this because it’s what any employer would do.  If I were indicted on these charges and the evidence was this clear, my employer would catapult me off the property.  They wouldn’t even talk to me – just hook my chair up to a big contraption and launch me out the window when I got back from lunch one day.  My company doesn’t have to wait for me to be convicted of a crime to fire me.  They can even let me go for things that aren’t crimes.  If I sit here and surf for internet porn all day long, they won’t wait for a lawyer to come in and prove it.  They’ll pull me aside, give me a “what were you thinking?” lecture, and fire my ass.  And that’s fair enough.  I’m OK with them firing me if I spend all day on porn sites.  And I’m more OK with the NFL firing Michael Vick because he kills dogs.  Allegedly.

Here’s our second issue, though, and it’s troublingly contradictory to the first one.  There are still a lot of racist dickwipes in this country (see two posts ago on this blog), and a lot of them are also sports fans.  Remember this, Diane, when you see an opinion piece that refers to certain athletes as thugs, or mentions tats and cornrows, or talks about that “certain element” of society that promotes dogfighting.  There is an unfortunate sentiment out there that it’s only the black players damaging the major sports leagues, and this probably wasn’t helped when Barry Bonds moved to the center of the steroids scandal afflicting baseball now.

But you know what?  Mark McGuire was the homerun hero before Bonds, and he was just as clearly inflated with illegal substances and the clear and the cream, whatever the fuck those things are.  And Mr. McGuire (in case you can’t tell from his name) is white.  There are plenty of white athletes with drug problems and criminal charges against them.  The Indiana Pacers/Detroit Pistons brawl may have centered around black players (er, yeah… it’s the NBA), but it was a white fan who threw the cup at Artest that started it, and it was a white fan that threw a chair on the court, and many white fans who were screaming and hurling food and programs at the Pacers as they tried to get away.  Except for crazy-ass Stephen Jackson, who was egging them on like an evil pro wrestler.

My point is, white people can do fucked-up, immoral, and illegal things just like black people.  And despite the sparkly-clean image of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, there are plenty of white assholes in the NFL.  If the image problems in pro sports tend to start with black players, it’s largely because the two biggest sports – football and basketball – are black-dominated.  Yes, Pacman Jones is someone I’d never want at my house, but so is Bill Romanowski.  The focus on this aspect of recent scandals is none too surprising considering how often you hear (white) fans bitch about Vick’s popularity.  “Those guys can only run, not throw” is often code for “Black guys are better athletes than thinkers or leaders.”  And if you think Barack Obama and Colin Powell (or for that matter Tony Dungy and Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair) don’t contradict this, you still have your blinders on.  Michael Vick isn’t representative of the entire African-American population.  He wasn’t when he was a somewhat overrated quarterback, and he isn’t now that he’s been indicted.  We need to try to keep this in mind before we propogate cute little expressions like “You can take the boy out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the boy” (which is something I’ve seen written online about half a dozen times since this story broke).  Vick is an asshole, but it’s not just his skin color or where he grew up that made him that way.

So, let’s not come down on Vick because he’s black, and by all means give him his right to a fair trial.  Both of these things would be only right, only just.  But if the NFL wants to kick his dog-killing ass out of the league for any number of games or seasons, I will stand up and applaud.

+ This footnote added on the basis of gb’s comment.  I have no rooting interest in the Falcons in the usual sense – I’m not a fan of the team.  Take this in the spirit of “support financially” or “buy Falcons products” or “wish the Falcons owners well in their business endeavors.”  I also no longer plan to name my firstborn Alge Crumpler Cooper.

* I don’t want to get into all of that here – the details of the indictment are widely available elsewhere on the internet.  Suffice it to say there is a lot of evidence and a number of witnesses that make Vick look REALLY bad and REALLY guilty.  This ain’t Kobe vs. the alleged rape victim or even O.J. vs. Mark Furman, Kato, and the incompetent prosecution team.  This is borderline open-and-shut, and if he gets off, it will be on a technicality or because his many millions of dollars bought a supervillainous defense team that makes Johnny Cochrane look like Lionel Hutz.

** “Ookie” being the nickname Vick’s friends gave him in conjunction with the dogfighting – it’s mentioned in his indictment.  No one human being except Paris Hilton has ever given so generously to late night talk show hosts.


Opinionated art

July 12, 2007

Diane,

A friend of mine recently told me the story of how he logged into his neighbor’s network through their unprotected wireless router.  He found their music library, an oddly assorted collection of Britney Spears pop and Burzum black metal and all points in between (which I guess is all the points there are).  Browsing over the black metal, he found a lot of so-called NSBM (national socialist black metal), which basically means racist Satanists from Norway.  He may or may not have deleted some of it.

This is interesting to me because of my recent insider/outsider status in the online metal community.  I occasionally post on a couple different forums, mainly to gather death metal recommendations from people who’ve been listening to the stuff for two decades more than I have.  On that front I’ve done extremely well.  I don’t listen to black metal*, but one can’t participate in that kind of forum without at least skimming over some of the black metal-oriented conversations.

Now, there is definitely such a thing as racist death metal.  Arghoslent is probably the best-known proponent of growly singing about flogging a particular kind of now-illegal cargo.**  But they don’t represent a very large trend.  NSBM, on the other hand, is widespread enough to have earned itself a genre name, albeit one that rarely appears in Rolling Stone or Entertainment Weekly’s music section. 

The people who listen to this music are in some unmeasurable percentage not racists, though, and that is what fascinates me.  If you ask them about it, the general theory goes like this:

1. It doesn’t really matter what they’re singing about if the music is good.

2. Besides, you can’t understand them most of the time anyway.

3. I have a black friend.

4. Wagner hated Jews, so, y’know, wtf.

I haven’t had to indulge in this exact rationalization myself, because I don’t listen to NSBM.  I don’t listen to black metal in general – most of it strikes me as juvenile, talentless, and ridiculous.  If death metal is a cousin to good horror movies (as I’ve argued previously), most black metal reminds me of those Italian cannibal movies where they stage gruesome scenes designed to look like no-budget snuff flicks, and sprinkle on some actual animal killing for flavor.  I don’t watch Italian cannibal movies from the seventies, and I don’t listen to black metal.  And even if I was going to listen to black metal, I doubt I’d be deep enough into it to have exhausted all the good bands and need to move on to shitty racist ones.

But the basic concepts here should be familiar to fans of several other kinds of music – most notably hip hop and dancehall.  And indeed, Diane, I listen to both. 

Hip hop ran into a lot of trouble in its early days by damning homosexuals (Brand Nubian, 2Pac, lots of other guys) and Jews (Public Enemy’s Prof. Griff, Ice Cube).  After a few public relations disasters, it seems like most rap artists – or maybe their record labels – learned not to cross those lines.  You still can hear some homophobic and anti-Semitic rants on hip hop records, but they’re buried a little deeper and scattered a little wider.  Certainly not a lot of major label releases are going out with this kind of rhetoric embedded in them.  Where they still venture though (and problematically for the enlightened listener) is into the dark waters of misogyny, as well as anti-white racism.  The former is more common – so common, in fact, that I think the average gangsta rap listener long ago stopped being shocked or surprised by songs that refer to bitches and hos, and in what capacity said bitches and hos are best used.***  Anti-white racism is fading out, especially now that MC Ren is off the scene and Ice Cube is making kiddie movies in exchange for what must be fifty zillion dollars and all the free handjobs he wants, but it still carries an aura of acceptability.  In fact, most white listeners I’ve spoken with about this type of lyric have shrugged and said, “Yeah, I guess that’s fair.”  The spectre of slavery and segregation have created a free pass for this kind of subject matter.  You’re more likely to get in trouble in the media for a gay slur in your rap song than for calling whites “devils” or talking about shooting up a white suburb.  (To be honest, if anybody wants to go shoot up Carmel, IN this weekend, I’m available and would be happy to drive.)

Dancehall has an even bigger PR problem than hip hop nowadays.  To give some background, Jamaica is a pretty homophobic island.  Homophobia is deeply ingrained in both the culture and the most well-known (though far from statistically dominant) religion, Rastafarianism.  A lot of Jamaicans in general are prejudiced against gays, and an even larger proportion of rastas are.  I don’t know for sure, but it would not surprise me if the likes of Bob Marley and Winston Rodney (a.k.a. Burning Spear) were homophobic to some degree.  However, they didn’t sing about it.+  But as reggae has evolved into the more aggressive digital styles of ragga and dancehall, homophobia has jumped to the forefront.

Roots reggae was always infused with rasta spirituality – one love and all that.  As such there was a certain amount of anti-Babylon polemicism, a degree of condemnation of us American sodomites (not necessarily meaning “one who practices sodomy,” but rather a latter-day resident of a metaphorical Sodom and Gomorrah).  Dancehall has evolved that into a full-on battle against homosexuality.  Slack artistes++ like Bounty Killer will use some unfortunate gay slurs and insult an opponent by saying he’s homosexual, but it’s really the rastas in dancehall who sling the most anti-gay fire.  Capleton and Sizzla, two singers whose music I enjoy, have been banned from performing in certain venues (and even whole countries) because of some of their lyrics.  Partly this is because the rasta way of speaking sounds more violent than it is.  A singer condemning the gay lifestyle will “bun [burn] it out” or throw “fire pon dem,” which is not intended to describe a literal torching of gay people, but rather a spiritual fire that cleanses sin.  In the same manner, for instance, a rasta would sing about burning down Babylon, which just means me and most of my friends (small comfort, eh? Enjoy another day of sin, fellow Babylonian).  Where the trouble comes in is in the more literal violence of songs like Buju Banton’s notorious “Boom Bye Bye,” or Sizzla’s “Gunshot.”  It may be a lot of big talk or it may not – Banton was recently charged with attacking some men who were believed to be homosexual – but either way it’s a troubling tendency.  More difficult for the listener is that your average Capleton or Sizzla album tends more toward roots reggae and milder lyrical themes; it’s usually on the single-only, aggressive dancehall tracks that they cut loose and really burn out the sodomites (this time meaning exactly “one who practices sodomy”).  So if I buy the latest by one of these guys, am I supporting their hidden agenda?  Should I wait for them to stop releasing anti-gay singles before I spend money on their gay-neutral (or non-gay-mentioning) albums?

I don’t have a good answer for this; it’s just a dilemma I have been thinking about.  My conscience is clear when it comes to NSBM and Arghoslent, because I don’t like either one.  But I do buy a lot of hip hop and dancehall, and I’m sure some of the artists I’m supporting are harboring some not-really-concealed homophobic and misogynistic and possibly racist agendas.  (Note: just to pre-empt any accusations of racism on MY part, I am going to point out that I also own three Eminem albums, and he is square in the center of this discussion as well, considering tracks like the infamous “97 Bonnie and Clyde” and his pre-Elton John lyrics about gays.  Intolerance and prejudice is by no means a black or Jamaican province; I just happen to listen to a lot of black and Jamaican music.)  Am I obligated as a consumer to only support artists whose politics and opinions I agree with?  Or at least not support the ones whose politics and opinions I strongly DISAGREE with?

Would I buy a Ku Klux Klan monthly calendar?  Even if it had Jessica Alba in various stages of partial nakedness on every page?  No, I wouldn’t.  (Uh, probably.)  So maybe I shouldn’t be buying music by anyone who sings about hitting women or gays.  There is one difference, though, which is that the Klan primarily exist to further prejudice; artists primarily exist to create art.  Even politicized art is mainly intended to entertain and stimulate the mind+++, which is very different from an organization holding racist rallies and trying to get affirmative action laws overturned.  And unlike your standard skinhead punk band, most of the artists we’re discussing here sing about things other than their unfortunate prejudices.  Eminem rapped about killing his bitch wife (a few times) – but mostly he raps about killing everybody else, plus doing drugs, trading letters with Stan, and losing himself in the moment.  I don’t feel like the money I give to Eminem is going into his “Kill All The Bitches legislation” fund.  I’m guessing (hoping) he doesn’t have one.  More likely it’s funding his pot-buying and his next “Rocky” remake.  Mostly it allows him to continue to exist as an artist.

The difficulty re-enters here though: if an artist is encouraging people who aren’t very good at thinking for themselves to have intolerant, prejudiced attitudes, should I oppose the art?  A lot of Eminem fans are young and stupid.  They absorb anything you put in front of them – and then spit it back out like parrots.  And regardless of the fact that Eminem hasn’t made me cut your head off and stuff you in my trunk, Diane, it’s possible that he might be gently enticing some other dumbass out there to do so.

It’s a question that I’m not going to answer now.  I’ve babbled on for far too long already, and besides, it should be obvious to you that at this point I don’t really have an answer.  It’s just something for all us hip hop, dancehall, national socialist black metal, and racist polka fans to consider.  And to my friend browsing his neighbor’s music collection: don’t delete their shitty black metal collection.  Maybe eventually they’ll decide to do that on their own.  Maybe not.  Or maybe they’re actually a bunch of racist assbags – but hey, even racists are entitled to their bizarre, completely wrong-headed opinions, and their Britney Spears albums.

* For those of you out there wondering, death metal and black metal are not the same thing – no matter what allmusic.com tells you.  Death metal is an outgrowth of thrash (e.g. Metallica, Slayer) that places a high value on technical skill, and utilizes a lot of twisted guitar riffs, low-pitched vocals, and precise drumming to get its point across.  Lyrics can be about almost anything (though mostly they are about mortality and sub-horror movie gore descriptions).  Black metal is defined as much by ideology (“we love Satan!”) as music (“we like singing in a high-pitched rasp that sounds eeeeevil… to high school students!”).

** Meaning slaves.  Seriously, they have a song called “Flogging The Cargo,” and that’s exactly what it’s about.  They also titled one of their albums “Incorrigibly Bigotry.”  For some reason, these guys get a lot of hate mail.  For some other reason that is a lot less clear, the metal community is generally accepting and borderline-worshipful of this band.  Maybe they’re just stunned that a bunch of racist dickwipes playing metal don’t sound like a pig with its foot in a blender.  I’ve spoken with a guy who describes himself as mixed Puerto Rican and Spanish; he listens to Arghoslent, and commented that he didn’t feel bad about listening to them because he’s “not a jew and not a full spic.”

*** Sperm receptacle, punching bag.

+ Burning Spear is actually still alive and active in reggae, but sorting out the tense changes in these two sentences was too irritating to finish.  My apologies to Mr. Spear.

++ Being “slack” in Jamaica is the equivalent of being a gangsta thug in America; slackness is the same as hooliganism, but the word is a lot less hilarious.  “Artiste” is how they refer to musical artists – I wasn’t just spelling it that way to be annoying.

+++ This is what differentiates art from propaganda, and “Birth Of A Nation” from “Triumph Of The Will.”