Faizal Tajuddin: Making a mundane noisy show a threat again…
Making a mundane noisy show a threat again…
oleh Faizal Tajuddin
A threat to whom? Harian Metro’s legal department maybe. That is if the 300 plus kids and mamak stall patrons who were arrested on new year’s eve with no charges for the arrests doesn’t take it all lying down like they were expected to, get themselves legally represented and line up enough class action suits to clog up the police’s and Harian Metro’s legal department for the whole year.
Ring in 2006 boys and girls. What better way to start the New Year for two public institutions regularly lambasted for being unethical and unaccountable than to have them facing a possibility of not one, not two, but a whole truckload of civil suits filed by the “alleged” black clad, black pubic hair, black iris, “Black Metal” kids!
One can just imagine the dark forces at work behind those pentagrams these kids drew with goat’s blood trying to disrupt this harmonious country with their loud guitars, guttural voices and devil worshipping ways. The young heathens had the gall to organize their own shows with no corporate sponsors and no datuks to grace the shows. Playing loud non-Akademi Fantasia music, and what’s up with the black shirts kids? Didn’t your parents teach you to appreciate colours growing up?
Malaysian parents need not worry. These gullible young heathens influenced by the evil subcultures of the west will have our good, Asian moral values drilled into their impressionable minds by our own vanguards of morality. And if the cops can’t police the kids in a legal, lawful ways, then dammit, cook up ridiculous excuses to detain them. It’s not like the police is accountable to anyone. Don’t forget to bring the media along for the raid. Got to show Malaysians how dedicated the police force is and don’t forget to urine-test those kids; of the 380 kids detained there’s bound to be a few weed smokers. Turned out seven of the 380 kids were positives on drug tests? There you go; devil worshipping drug users the lot of them.
It’s appalling to note how our public institutions colluded in creating media frenzy over a youth subculture the public doesn’t understand. It’s easy enough to understand why the Malay tabloid sensationalizes the issue; sensational issues sell shitloads of papers. When the subject matter is a bunch of kids, with their own subculture semi-shrouded in mystery separate from the mainstream Mawi or Akademi Fantasia frenzy, it is cakewalk for the tabloid to whip up the eerie images; of blood drinking rituals and goat slaughter; of death, suicide, black shirted cults of Malay youth and ‘devil music’. Oh here’s a little something for the Malay Muslim parents to worry about- the dissolution of their culture and ‘cara hidup orang timur dan Islam’, courtesy of the onslaught of urban pop cultures from the west. Worry not you troubled parents; Harian Metro is here to give you front page coverage. Just don’t forget to buy copies for your next door neighbours too. The kids are an easy target group for the malicious press hacks; after all, the kids don’t have any political weight, wealth or power to counterweight the freewheeling press reports. It isn’t too surprising for trashy tabloids to produce rubbish reports. Surely media ethics is easily trumped by the all powerful need for bigger circulation, bigger audience and the lucrative advert fees that comes with the audience.
It is when the net of media frenzy widens to the more powerful institutions such as the police force and religious councils, criminalizing what is essentially an individual’s preference to music and lifestyle that the whole flurry got a little scary. It’s no longer just the press hacks with their over active imagination of musical dark rituals; now the police are in on the action too; carving themselves a new role as a protector of the youngsters’ morality. Upholding the law and catching criminals is apparently not enough workload for the force. The media’s lopsided moral value on youth culture is now considered a criminal offence in the cops’ book as well. Just to illustrate how maniacally the whole ‘Black Metal’ bull has now blown out of proportion; Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) has issued a statement categorizing black metal listeners as religious deviants and will be charged under the Syariah Law, once the law is legislated sometimes this year. And just how much of a criminal are you for listening to metal music? “Pengikut fahaman itu (Black Metal) yang enggan kembali ke pangkal jalan walaupun diberi kaunseling dan pendedahan agama di pusat pemulihan, akan didenda RM5,000 atau tiga tahun penjara atau kedua-duanya sekali.(Utusan Malaysia Online)” . That much of a criminal, you musical deviant folks.
All you kids with your brand new Dimmu Borgir t-shirt might suddenly find yourself criminally charged for being a “follower of black metal philosophy (sic)”. That don’t mean you singer-songwriter listeners with the black ‘Itu Padang, Aku Disini’ t-shirts shouldn’t be worried though, I’m pretty sure this particular law, if passed, would cover genres and sub-genres of most if not all of the non-commercial musical variants. You at the back wearing black Joy Division t-shirt think you can freely jam at the studios, playing your dark songs and organize your own little shows? Think again you poor kid. As recently demonstrated at the New Year’s Eve crackdown of a punk show at Paul’s Place; the self-professed vanguards of morality couldn’t tell shit from mud when it comes to today’s musical varieties, especially of the non-commercial types. Not that the varieties mattered one tiny bit in this whole Black Metal brouhaha. When the Paul’s Place crackdown came to pass, it’s fascinating to note how excuses from the police for detaining the kids were easily modified from day to day. First it was a ‘Black Metal gathering’, so the kids were urine tested; then it was a ‘live show without permit’, so the kids were urine tested; finally it was a ‘drug raid’, so the kids were urine tested. How easily for one powerful institution to beat around the bush, wringing away liberty from regular folks, detaining without so much as a ground for arrest; unaccountable to no one but themselves.
Too much real-politik is involved in the issue, and it just so happened the subject matter of the day are the hapless, powerless, moneyless practitioners and appreciators of non-commercial music. If one is to look at it from Farish Noor’s spectacles, one might correlate the crack down on the Malay-Muslim youth’s ‘morality’ as a struggle between the Islamists and the Islamists-as-hell. Well that may be true. If one is to ask Isham Rais observing from behind his beard, he’d probably say these Islamic officers went to study Islam for years in the Middle East, come to Malaysia with no job market for their specialties; and created a niche market for themselves; creating the job of the Whip Crackers of everything remotely to do with Islam. That may be true too. Someone else might say the police crackdown with its ‘embedded media’ in-tow was a public relations exercise to counter the recent negative press reports on the force. Well my name is Necromancer and I say what is at stake is the freedom to express, listen and play what you deem as music. What’s at stake is diversity of musical genres freely accessible to the public, and the public’s decision to freely choose.
The day that the only music a Malaysian could legally listen and play is of the Mawi or Siti Nurhaliza mould is a sad day indeed. The day that big business backed music industry, with its SMS riddled reality TVs, corporate sponsored shows, pathetically uniformed and saccharine sweet sounds monopolizing the airwaves is the day the non-mainstream musicians should actually sell their soul to Satan and drink shots of goats’ blood; if for no other reason than to belatedly defy the legislation that will target a section of your musical genres.
So start filing those class action lawsuits all you boys and girls in black. This year might be a prosperous year for you after all. With your winnings you can get the most expensive pagan altar money can buy. Just don’t send your Scandinavian ‘santau’ my way alright?