Recently, White Nationalists have touted Metal—particularly Black Metal—as a uniquely Caucasoid sound, one which has the power to unearth the badass fury of proud, salt-of-the-earth, put-upon honky folk in an age of mounting multicultural tyranny and insufferably smarmy media-enforced White guilt.
These writers probably have a point, in a way. It seems to me, though, that what’s uncouth remains uncouth, whether it sports gold teeth, a Flava-Flav necklace-watch and sagging britches, or moon boots, a Def Leppard T-shirt and a mullet. That is to say, a nigger is a nigger, whether he’s Black or White.
Don’t get me wrong: I am well aware that it’s unfair to paint with too broad a brush. Not every fan of rap is a degenerate thug who lives to smoke crack and rape White girls, just as not every lover of loud guitar music is a drunken, violent lout who thrives on tormenting wimps, nerds, and fags for sport. Still, I’m not sure if I’d like to live in a world where the hip-hopper and the head-banger are the main competing forces. I thus question the wisdom of championing what seems to be one fairly skanky subculture to fight another assuredly trashy one. Indeed, if what one desires is the survival of civilization, this strikes me as a deeply wrongheaded strategy.
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Heavy Metal put down its roots in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but it really grew into a formidable cultural force during the ‘80s, when, in the form of “Hair Metal,” it came to represent the primary rival of a radically different, yet equally “White” style of popular music: that is, the interlacing and overlapping genres of Punk, New Wave, and Synthpop.
If you were a youth in the ‘80s—as some of us may be old enough to remember—you simply weren’t allowed to like both Metal and Punk at the same time. The sort of kids who were into Metal (who had the rest of us outnumbered, it always seemed) tended to be less thoughtful or reflective, and more swaggering and macho, while we “Punk” kids liked to style themselves as intellectual and artsy.
Naturally, the Metal kids tended to be the ones to ruthlessly administer the inevitable doses of adolescent mockery, ostracism and ass-kickings, while we Punks and New Wavers were usually the ones who got mocked and ostracized, and who got our asses kicked. Of course, some of the crazier and more fearless Punks might were able to channel their inner-Johnny Rotten and fight back occasionally, but as a general rule we were on the receiving end of the abuse.
And yet, one could argue that we Punks and wavers were the ones whose adopted values were most reflective of the philosophical fruits of Western, that is, “White” civilization. While we admittedly flirted with grandiose effeteness much of the time (hence the mockery and the ass-kickings), we were more prone to agree with seminal Western thinker Socrates in his famous assertion that the unexamined life is not worth living. The Metalheads, on the other hand, merely liked to drink, party, and screw, and thought it was plainly “gay” ever to question their debauched lifestyle choices. The Punks and Wavers (with the exception of the “straight-edge” ones, like myself and most of my friends) took their share of mind-altering substances, and most certainly had sex if they ever got the chance, but all the while were asking themselves, with gloomy, hyper-literate wordsmith Morrissey, “What difference does it make?”
Of course, we Wavers could be tiresome and pretentious, and we often were. But we were also very often quite sincere in our expressions of angst and anguish. The existential terror of adolescence, after all, is that one suddenly finds oneself neither fish nor fowl but a rather pitiful mixed breed, one which sprouts useless scales when it tries to fly, and is afflicted with ridiculous burdensome wings when it only wants to swim.
All of these reflections are brought to mind, interestingly enough, by the fact that Duran Duran has just released All You Need Is Now, their first album in nearly three decades to be worthy of the famous ‘80s synth-pop band’s early years of greatness.
Duran Duran, like other New Wave bands of the era, had a solidly White demographic. Yes, many of their fans were screaming little girls, wild over the lads’ pretty faces. But other, more sophisticated sorts, could appreciate their unique sound as well. It was a combination of John Taylor’s subtly funky Roxy Music-influenced grooves with a rich overlaying sheen of Nick Rhodes’s keyboard stylings and Simon LeBon’s distinctive yelping lead vocals, and lyrics that were often incomprehensibly strange (“Shake up the picture, the lizard mixture with the dance on the eventide”) and sometimes irresistibly silly (“Don’t say you’re easy on me/ You’re about as easy as a nuclear war”) that so appealed to many a connoisseur of exquisitely crafted pop excellence.
The band has persisted through the years, in one configuration or another, but at some point lapsed into depressing musical mediocrity. The grand reunion of the original five members resulted in the 2004 album Astronaut, which had a few bright moments but was generally forgettable.
It was only last year that the band decided to team with producer Mark Ronson, who in turn finally helped bring them around to embrace their early sound again. With few exceptions, All You Need is Now contains material that might have easily fit on one of the band’s first three albums. The title track and single, with its herky-jerky verses leading into a soaringly melodic and hauntingly melancholy chorus, recalls the 1983 number one-hit “The Reflex.” The odd and fascinating ode to bestial obsession “Man Who Stole a Leopard” channels the eeriely intense album cut ballad “The Chauffeur,” while the sunny singalongs “Runway Runaway” and “Too Bad You’re So Beautiful” put one in mind of the more uptempo high-energy tunes of the band’s undisputed classic “Rio.”
And there are a few other pleasant surprises. Particularly striking is “Blame the Machines,” with its air of subtle dystopian menace, and “Mediterranea,” which takes the point of view of a working-stiff’s expressed desire to take a vacation in a warm beachy place—à la the Beach Boys’ “Kokomol”—into achingly poignant territory (“We believe where the white sands touch the sea/ There’s a space for us”).
Duran Duran’s return to the type of music that made them great ought not go unnoticed by those who fear the imminent demise of White culture. The Fab Five (now sadly absent guitarist Andy Taylor, who left the band again in 2008) in fact represent a uniquely White sound and look that deserves to be preserved, one with intelligence, style, and hooks aplenty. We can’t all be head-banging badasses, nor should we strive to be such. It’s 2011… time to put away the bitter and foolish tribalism of our misspent Gen-X youth. Can’t we aging whiteys all get along? What’s past is past: all we need is now.