Varg Vikernes Was Always a Ticking Time Bomb, Why Remain a Burzum Fan?
Band Photo: Burzum (?)
This is an opinion article, not a news story, and it doesn't necessarily represent the views of the other contributors at Metalunderground.com.
My reaction to yesterday's arrest of Burzum's sole member Varg Vikernes wasn't shock, it was laughter. The guy was convicted of manslaughter and arson and the French were dumb enough to not only let him into their country on a farm far away from prying eyes but also purchase a number of firearms that he even photographed himself with. What exactly did the Gendarmerie Nationale think he was going to do? The only part of this that's shocking is that it took this long for the French to actually arrest him.
To expand on why exactly this scenario was inevitable, it's that Varg believes in the innate supremacy of all Germanic people while living in a country of Southern Europeans that also has a large Arab minority. This along with his self-imposed isolation was probably going to bring him to his breaking point.
After the British were involved in a scandal where it took them years to finally deport two radical clerics with ties to Al Queda, why would the French bother with somebody who's even more obviously a security risk? Even if the authorities were jumping the gun and there was no terror plot, Varg has to take some responsibility for his reputation. I mean, really, does this photograph look innocent to you?
The only good I can see coming of this is that it's managed to make one of the most odious styles of metal dangerous and genuinely shocking again. A few years ago, I remember being served food by a waitress wearing a Burzum shirt. Getting past the hypocrisy of NSBM being inherently misogynistic and supporting of gender roles that don't include women working, the fact that somebody could buy a Burzum shirt and not just wear it in public but on the job without anyone batting an eye shows how safe even the most ideologically extreme metal has become.
Burzum (along with most other NSBM) was music that you'd only pirate illegally out of morbid curiosity to avoid giving money to people who support extremist causes. Wearing a Burzum shirt used to be so extreme that you'd get dirty looks from people at concerts and your friends would give you, “dude, not cool" speeches. While I don't think want all black metal to be painted with the same brush, I'd at least like to see NSBM become far more stigmatized instead of seen as the ultimate diamond in the rough by hipsters for its non-commercial nature.
As somebody who's tired of all the politics around a style of music based around being confrontational with all the obscure fascist imagery and "wink wink, nudge nudge" statements to please fanatics and hipsters alike, I'm now kind of happy that Varg is going back behind bars once again. I'm all for pushing the boundaries of free speech and good taste but there's a difference between saying something racist to make a point about defending free expression and actively marketing yourself to far right extremists in countries like Russia, Greece, and the U.K. that have massive problems with racial violence to the point where they resemble America in the 1930s.
I personally would be pretty bothered if a group like the English Defense League had more than a handful of people at a rally wearing a shirt with my logo on it. It's why Lonsdale launched a marketing campaign with black models and Thor Steinar sold their brand to a company in the Middle East since having your brand associated with real world violence isn't so much edgy as it is condoning actual crimes against actual people.
In an age where everything is going to be labeled racist or sexist regardless of content or context, it's important to get up to that line but not cross it because once you do, you can no longer hide behind irony and can't to prove your point. At that point, you pretty much are exactly what people are calling you and no better than my old druggie neighbors who used a racial slur for their wi-fi password or the twelve-year-olds on Call of Duty. I mean, Minor Threat proved a point about when anti-racism goes too far in “Guilty of Being White,” but Malevolent Creation openly wishing for black people to kill each other and accusing them of all having HIV in “They Breed” is the main reason why I don't own a single album from Malevolent Creation.
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