Our Best Minds Tackle The Metal Machine
Heavy metal, after years of pining for acceptance, waiting patiently in the shadows of the cafeteria, has finally become cool. Don't believe me? Try out some of this year's debuts from Astronoid or Sumerlands for size. Or jump on last year's gigantically acclaimed New Bermuda, from San Fran's Deafheaven or Deeper Than Sky, by fellow Californians, VHÖL. But it's fraught terrain: desperate to appeal to fans who don't read Kerrang! or Guitar World, the current crop of metal bands (or their publicists) busy themselves selling metal as a more ethereal, indie-r experience, words like atmospheric, thrash-gaze and dream-gaze start appearing.
Which is probably why last week was the perfect time for old school dinosaurs Metallica, who haven't thrown down a proper LP since the waning days of the Bush administration, to drop some serious knowledge on us, bestowing not one, not two, but thirteen music onto the YouTubes. Such a profusion of visuals make reviewing the associated full-length feel, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct feel like foolishness. How can one even review Metallica, man?
But Is It Any Good?
Metallica, like Dawson Creek's or, uh, Blink-182, is not so much a band that produces music as much as a collective memory of who we were high school. To wit, each video broadcasts some version of this Metallica experience. In opening video "Hardwired," alternatively spelled Hard and Wired, we are shoved headfirst into an empty underground chamber, void of life aside from glaring strobe lights and a metal band playing chugging through a real bad ass riff. It's Metallica. Boom.
An obvious observation, perhaps, but, in a later video ("ManUNkind"), Sky Ferreira and two less interesting actors (Rory Culkin and Jack Kilmer) take the stage instead. Are they Metallica, you ask, or perhaps, dressed as Metallica for Halloween? No, they are dressed as cult 90s Norwegian black metal band Mayhem and perform in the well-advertised vicinity of a decapitated pig. In yet another video ("Murder One") an animated Lemmy Kilmister performs from beyond the grave.
Is there a hidden message here, something Satanic perhaps? Absolutely!
In the video for "Halo on Fire," the band plays in a ominous Fight Club-esque circle and are quickly joined by Czech model Jana Knauerova who has arrived to fight: first, another woman, a brunette, who is unlike Jana, who is a blonde. She (Jana) wins and up steps another challenger, a thin orderly male whose masculinity looks like it's going to cause problems. It does not, he is similarly thrown to the ground. A circus strongman-type then takes his places and, on the other hand, pummels her. Good fist-pumping stuff. Moral: a fight club without live music is just sadomasochism.
The real keeper in the bunch? "Here Comes Revenge," animated video number two, but this time by Tim Burton-collaborator Jessica Cope. There's no real way to describe it besides a heavy metal Fantastic Mr. Fox, complete with oodles of decapitated animals.
But for man pushing north of fifty, Kirk Hammett serendipitously captures the spirit of our post-election angst, barking, like an injured dog, lines like "We're so fucked/Shit out of luck." Not so far away from the locker rooms and dreaded gymnasium, we just have to wait for January 20th.
Not excited? Don't take my word for it:
Gotta Watch 'Em All:
The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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