Connect with us


Cattle Decapitation’s “Forced Gender Reassignment” Hailed As One Of The Most Controversial Music Videos

Deathgrind masters Cattle Decapitation have landed at #1 on’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.



  • ChildoftheKoRn

    One of my favorite videos of all time. Say it with me now folks! “FUCK GOD. SAY IT, FUCK GOD!”

  • NicolaAcoust

    Hi! I wanted to read some views on this song and videos and hence fell into your site. I’ve been here a few times before. I like shocking art and new points of view.

    This video had an interesting effect on me: while it was really gruesome, first I realized that sometimes the violent sexual acts here portrayed are often shown in other contexts as some form of pornography that ‘is ok, because it is a woman who is receiving the phallus’ and hence we tend to accept such things in our machist society.

    But then again, that doesn’t seem to be the message of the song. In fact, this is what I’m trying to figure out. First of all, if this song tried to deliver a message, why the indecipherable vocals? Doesn’t seem to be an effective vehicle at all to give a message.

    Starting out with a generic reflection on ‘we fear what we don’t understand’, is that what this song is all about?

    The cannibal corpse-esque narrative it’s quite clear but what this song is telling is that christian indoctrination on fear of gender diversity, in a gross and exagerated extreme, can reflect in characters such as ‘the gimp’?

    If so, that’s one of the most brutal and accurate criticisms I’ve ever seen on religious indoctrination, and I’m all for it.

    But what’s with the ‘world overpopulation’ bit? A forced gender reassignment is the solution for overpopulation for the band, or for the character?

    It’s not quite clear to me, it seems the latter but I don’t really know. I come from a country where actions depicted by the video were really taken by a fascist government not many decades ago, so torture is quite a subject here, specially being this graphical. I’m not specially sensitive on the subject, but I’m trying to question this art form as a form of entertainment or ‘something with a message’ as well, trying to figure out how it works on other levels beyond the surface.

    Anyway, here I am writing all this stuff in a foreign language. At least this thing is really thought provoking and can make for interesting interpretations.

    If this is a grotesque depiction of what intolerance can lead to, I bow before this awesome artists (although for death metal and grindcore I’d rather prefer old school production and sound). If this is just entertainment for fascists and sadist, it was a well wasted opportunity.

    • Cal Tidey

      No idea if you’ll ever read this but-

      The indecipherable vox are a part of Cattle Decapitation. That’s how they typically deliver vox, it’s a part of their style. They’re not hiding the lyrics content.

      “Starting out with a generic reflection on ‘we fear what we don’t understand’, is that what this song is all about?”

      No. The song is about homophobia and transphobia, by way of a sick story where members of a homophobic hate group, with more than a passing similarity to the Westboro Baptist Church, are forced to experience gender dysphoria by being violently assaulted and subjected to gender reassignment. Because these people fear what they don’t understand, they’re going to be made to understand it.

      There’s some errors in these lyrics, but you can get the whole picture here:

      The gimp is meant to be horrifying. The entire procedure is meant to be horrifying. The gimp is not gender diversity, and neither is where they’re kept. They’re being treated the way they treat others, because, trite as it seems, we fear what we don’t understand, and we can do horrible things to other people because we don’t understand what we’re doing to them.

      They’re turned into something that they think they’re meant to hate, according to their twisted religion.

      The world overpopulation bit is a Cattle Decapitation bit, as it’s a topic they touch on. Yes, it’s a touch misanthropic.

      I think you miss the point with the art as a form of entertainment. It is, by definition. It’s just not one with mass appeal, it has singular focus. The message is in the lyrics and it’s made clear in sections of the video. The opening, the “Fuck God” bits.

      It’s not entertainment for fascists and sadists. It’s critical of them. It’s not a depiction of what intolerance can lead to. It’s about putting to a specific form of intolerance, what life would be like living in the shoes of the people they hate, through a violent and shocking fantasy.

      And I really do think you should read all the lyrics, or even the title of the video again, and you might understand what they’re getting at.

      • Matthew Ramroop

        Right on the nail dude. Makes me wanna look over some Deicide lyrics now. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing tonight.

More in Editorials