Opinion: Racism in Heavy Metal – Phil Anselmo


Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks you will have noticed that out of all the millions of heavy metal fans around the world, one of them has recently been found to be racist. I very much doubt he is alone in his views but rarely have they been so publicly aired.

I give you Phillip H. Anselmo –

Phil Anselmo White Power

Not just a fellow metal head but one of our leaders. An iconic beast of a front man who has led the line of some of our most influential and phenomenal bands, such as Pantera and Down, but also one who is as famous for his towering physique and intimidating attitude as he is for his singing.

So, here is what happened. At a regularly held charity event that celebrates the memory of Dimebag Darrell, the Pantera lead guitarist who lost his life at the hands of a lunatic, where numerous friends, colleagues and admirers of the Pantera axe man get together and play heavy metal for the night, Phil finished the evening off by performing a couple Nazi salutes and bellowing out “WHITE POWER”.

Yep – that really happened and it happened at a remembrance event. It happened at a heavy metal gig. You know what that is billed as right? Heavy Metal? The music most often claimed by the lost, lonely, segregated and those who just need something different or even those who just differ from the expected norms of society as the place they find solace, a home, a love and a family.

Phil – you messed up big time. You then decided to try and pass it off as a joke about white wine which just adds further insult as you obviously also think we are stupid.

People everywhere are arguing over whether white wine was present back stage or not. Really that doesn’t matter at all. There is no plausible link between drinking wine back stage and Nazi salutes on stage. You could tenuously argue that there is a link in the white wine/white power area but throw in a Nazi salute and there is no way this was a joke about wine. How could it be?

Since this incident, many more stories have started appearing that essentially show that Phil has pretty much always had views like these and people have just covered for him because, well, he is Phil Anselmo. One of the most insightful of these is the 10 minute long video from Robb Flynn of Machine Head who was also at Dimebash where the disgusting behaviour took place. In the video which you can watch here, Robb Flynn Slams Phil Anselmo , Robb expresses his disgust at the actions, the acceptance of those actions and the defending of those actions. He also tells us a little story of meeting Phil for the first time and Phil, during introductions basically says the following “I didn’t like you during your nigger phase” referring to the nu-metal age of Machine Head where albums like The Burning Red were released.
Machine-Head burning red

This has invoked more public argument with some claiming Phil has a right to speak his mind and that he is a “real man” for saying how he feels. Maybe there is a little truth in that but if, while speaking your mind, you decide to bring up things like this then you must accept and expect strong anger and criticism for it. You must. If Phil is so big on speaking his mind, why do these racist views only seep out behind closed doors? That’s very brave.

Besides that, what ever happened to courtesy or decency? When you meet somebody, most people tend to say hello and act a little respectful whereas Phil seems to think an insult is the way to go. You don’t have to like everybody you meet but you also don’t have to show that. With everything else going on, he also appears to be rude. Normally a little rudeness in the world is to be expected but my issue here is that these are two men that I idolise in Robb and Phil and in my mind they share a drink, talk about heavy metal and hug in a manly fashion while drunk and head banging. In truth, they don’t because Phil is too busy trying to show his manliness to everyone by being a dick.

The attitude from Phil in these instances appears to be that of a bully and at no point while I was growing up did I get taught that being a bully was the signs of a real man. In fact it was the opposite, real men stood up to bully’s.

Since then, Phil has apologised for his actions and whether you believe him or not doesn’t change the fact that he has apologised so to all you idiots defending his manliness and his right to a view, just stop. He isn’t even defending himself so you just sound stupid defending your idol who has clearly stated he has no defence.

Phil’s apology can be seen here  Phil Apologises and seems legit but that doesn’t really matter. Something like this can’t be fixed with an apology. That can only be the start of fixing it. It is in future actions that we will see if he is actually sorry or not.

The effect of Phil’s actions on the world of metal will be much harder to fix though. We are in the spotlight for negative reasons again because of Phil, he has damaged the legacy of Pantera and the meaning of Dimebash. He has affected all his current bands with, just this week, Down being booted off of a festival due to happen in Holland soon and calls for them to be removed from more. He has divided the metal community with half jumping to Phil’s defence and the other half ready to lynch him.

Man, he messed up!

Here is the thing though. I loved Phil. He was one of my heroes and now that image has been tainted badly but I can’t help the fact that a lot of the reasons for adoring him in the first place were musically orientated and are still real today. I just listened to Stained Glass Cross by Down and while there is now a bad taste, I still love that song. How do you switch that off?

down phil dammit

I don’t look at the picture above and feel hate, sadness and disappointment maybe, but not hate.

So here is what I think in summary. Firstly, people need to get off Robb Flynn’s back for standing up to a bully. Show Robb the respect that Phil could have the first time they met.

Secondly, the defenders and attackers of Phil need to put down their shields and torches and let Phil take and absorb all the grief and criticism he deserves for what he did. Only then will he be able to work towards repairing the damage done.

What Phil did was very wrong and there is no place for it in metal. If that is who he is, then there should be no place for him in metal. He has apologised which is at least an acknowledgement of wrongdoing but he has a long road ahead of him before forgiveness can be widely offered.

Will he make it? I have my doubts but I truly hope that one day I can look at him and see this episode as a horrible mistake from his past that is overshadowed by all the good things done since.

In the last few hours Phil has also issued a written apology which can be seen below.

Phil Apology

 

 


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