Swedish black metal band Marduk recently had the Oakland, CA date of their tour with Incantation cancelled due to certain groups that shall remain nameless lobbing threats at the venue and the Oakland Police Department being unable to guarantee the safety of concert goers.
The supposed reason for the protests and threats is due to Marduk writing songs about World War II. Marduk are not an NS band, never have been, and anyone that takes the time to actually listen to their music, read their lyrics or check out a few interviews can plainly see this. Yet for whatever reason, these protest groups chose to target them, rather than actually trying to do something about the very real Nazis and fascists in our midst that commit actual hate crimes and seem to have been emboldened by the recent election of a giant cheeto to the highest office in the land.
The cancellation sets a disturbing precedent that’s much bigger than black metal fans in the Bay Area not getting to see Marduk; Oakland PD have essentially given protest groups who can’t even be bothered to do a little research on their targets the go ahead to shut down any show they choose with impunity. This has the potential to pose problems down the road for a variety of innocent bands who deal with similarly dark subject matter. Marduk certainly isn’t the only band out there that deals with the horrors of war or other less than pleasant historical events. Don’t get me wrong, protest groups have just as much right to express themselves as bands (or any type of artist, for that matter) and their fans do, but they do not have the right to threaten, intimidate and bully innocent people. But, it appears that Oakland PD has no problem whatsoever with giving them carte blanche to do so, and that prospect should be absolutely terrifying to anyone with a brain.
The second unsettling issue here is the number of people who seem to think that Marduk “got what they deserved” for writing songs about WWII, as if this is somehow a crime. Does this mean that Barnes and Noble should be protested against for carrying William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? Should theaters that screened Downfall, a film about the final days of Adolf Hitler’s reign, have been barred from showing it? I’ve posed this question several times on social media and all of these detractors have conveniently dodged it, seemingly because they’re too busy referring to those of us that take issue with what happened as “whiners” and “crybabies.” Evidently we should all just keep our mouths shut and allow this to happen, because any artist that deals in subject matter that isn’t rainbows and cupcakes has it coming to them.
Indeed, the argument that Marduk are controversy seekers and they now have to deal with the consequences seems to be a popular one. But I ask you, where is the controversy? Simply writing a song about a thing that happened is controversial? Is this the world we live in now? There is no question that certain Marduk songs confront us with the horrors that took place during WWII, but they do not glorify it, in fact they seem to go out of their way to make it sound as terrifying and horrific as it no doubt was. It is only controversial for those that choose to make it so through their own ignorance. For those of us that have actually listened to Marduk and read their lyrics, it serves to reinforce the fact that of all the atrocities mankind has visited upon itself, war is by far the worst of them. I’d think that being reminded of that from time of time is a good thing.
I fully realize that what I have to say on this subject isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion, which is why I’ve shut off the comments on this post. But I had to get it off my chest, because I truly am unnerved by the fact that we’re more and more allowing fringe groups to dictate our consumption of art and also by the fact that so many people don’t understand the concept that you can write about a particular subject or event without supporting or glorifying it. Welcome to the dark ages.