The recent tragedies in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have left many people scarred and perhaps numb. Those who are distant from the events can only feel heartbreak for the victims and their families. After each shooting, people are left wondering “why?” The question is asked by television journalists, by survivors and victims’ family members.
As details unfolded about the massacre in Ohio, particularly details about the shooter, one journalist noted that the shooter was into “very heavy metal.” Without context, without explanation, the generalization does nothing to explain the particular subgenre that the shooter was associated with – – he was in a band, and leaves the public that is not familiar with heavy metal at all, to condemn an entire genre.
Dayton, Ohio shooter and “pornogrind”
For people who consider themselves fairly knowledgeable about music, to hear of a subgenre that they have never heard of before can be disconcerting. As more and more details about the shooter and the massacre were relayed (sometimes repeated, as per the way things go on cable news) the word “pornogrind” was used to discuss the subgenre of heavy metal that the shooter was into. Whatever it was, by the name alone, it sounded nothing like the 1970s and 1980s and even 1990s metal generations had grown used to.
Many of us have seen the clips of men playing typical instruments for any kind of rock band, while wearing dresses. The clip is allegedly of the shooter while he performs in a pornogrind band.
Rolling Stone, in an online article attempts to determine exactly what “Pornogrind” is. The writer provides a history of the “-grind” musical subgenres and discusses what each is about. Pornogrind apparently dates back to 1987. The themes are both brutal and pornographic.
Still, hearing a journalist make assertions about “very heavy metal,” will no doubt remind some people of the heyday of the PMRC, (Parents Music Resource Center) the group that tried to outlaw or censor 1980s heavy metal and rap. To focus on pornogrind, as outlandish and offensive as it is, will probably not be the way to prevent future tragedies. The US has a problem with insufficient mental health care for people who need it most, and it might be effective to start there. And, then, as others have opined, look at gun laws.
I do not have an answer for senseless tragedies. I do not have words of comfort that will console grieving families – – everything sounds hollow and trite. But blaming music or video games, culture aspects that thousands of people engage in daily, for the act of one person, seems short-sighted and unhelpful. The victims and their families deserve more than that.