Deathgrind masters Cattle Decapitation have landed at #1 on WatchMojo.com’s “Another Top 10 Controversial Music Videos” list for their now infamous “Forced Gender Reassignment” clip, which was directed by Mitch Massie. We premiered the video in 2012 and it has since become an internet sensation, attaining an almost “2 Girls 1 Cup” aura where viewers are challenged to see how long they can last before turning away in horror/disgust/revulsion/whatever.
What’s interesting to note is that this list tackles primarily mainstream artists, such as Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Erykah Badu, as well as others. Even the harder artists in this list, Tool, Korn, and Rammstein, are incredibly popular, so their placement amongst the “mainstream” makes sense. But Cattle Decapitation is not a part of the mainstream, nor have they ever been. To see them on this list is incredibly surprising and refreshing. However, it’s also troubling.
You see, it’s refreshing because the mainstream should never forget that there is a world of music that they coast over. Society shoves mass manufactured garbage into our faces, endlessly regurgitating the same simple chord structures time and time again, changing the synth pad so that we think what we’re hearing is new. And yet people keep eating it up because that’s all they recognize in the world around them. But if they were to brave the darkness and open themselves up to new possibilities, they can leave the comforts of the world they know and explore the seedy, honest, emotional underbelly that has such riches.
So seeing Cattle Decapitation in a list like this is great because people are forced to confront the fact that there is a world of music that they don’t venture into, either because of complacency or because of cowardice. And who knows? Maybe one or two people who viewed this list without knowing of the band decided to delve a bit deeper and hear some more that they have to offer. A few new fans? Awesome!
So why, you may ask, is it also troubling? Because the metal world is constantly facing stigmas. We’re angry. We’re devil worshippers. We’re idiotic knuckleheads. We’re uneducated. We’re homophobic. We’re racist. So on and so forth, over and over and over and over…
Let’s be honest, the video is f*cked up. It really is. When I was offered the opportunity to premiere it, I was hesitant. After all, the video tackles some incredibly touchy subjects AND features terrifying amounts of sexual violence. But the most important thing to remember here is that had it done all of this just for the shock factor I never would’ve shown it. If all the band and director Mitch Massie wanted to do was make people squirm in their seats for their own sadistic pleasure, some other site could’ve had it. I don’t care. I’m not showing mindless smut.
But it’s not mindless smut. It’s not a video that wants to shock just for the sake of being shocking. It has a message. It has a point. And it’s damn effective to those who are ready to face the horrors and give it a clinical, almost academic view.
But when the mainstream see a video like “Forced Gender Reassignment” and hear it labeled as “the most controversial video”, it gives them ammunition to denigrate us, the metal community. To quote Tommy Lee Jones’ character K from Men In Black, “People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” The vast majority of people will see these clips from “Forced Gender Reassignment” and refuse to look further. Or they’ll use it as a means to explain why violent acts occur. It’s been done before.
Why? Because they’ll be looking in all the wrong places. They’ll focus on the gore and not the message. They’ll see the violence and not read the lyrics (because 99.999% of them won’t be able to understand Travis Ryan’s vocals). They will completely miss that this song is a wake up call. It’s meant to inspire changing your perception and opening yourself to a new view. Just look at these lyrics from the song itself:
“Fear breeds contempt in the heart of a man
One has to question this common trait –
Why do we hate what we don’t understand?”
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that people will focus on all the wrong aspects, just like they’ve always done with metal. And that’s why this is troubling. It’s not the band’s fault. It’s not the director’s fault. It’s the fault of people who refuse to take the time to look just that little bit deeper. I’m not asking them to like it and, to be honest, I don’t expect them to. But it’d be damn nice if they’d at least appreciate it.
Here’s the list for you to check out.