Are we really Satanic and Devilish for liking Heavy Metal?
Maisnam Chanu Liklainu *
America is a highly individualistic country. Americans express their ideas openly , directly and without inhibition. There is a fundamental difference between America and Japan. There is something called uniquely Japanese. Japan is known for it's overwhelming homogeneity. The conformity in Japan is very high. They rarely express their ideas openly. Lack of individuality, lack of originality and group mentality are dominant in Japenese society. These traits define this economic power called Japan. Individuality is not encouraged. Thecountry is homogeneous because of the strong historical and cultural background. Which is why a Japanese rarely questions the elders or teachers.
I have not seen a very assertive Japanese though there are lots to learn from this economic power. Some exceptions obviously are there like Francis Fukuyaka who wrote the Democratic Peace theory. In a classroom of Japan and India, there is a stark difference. Indians are assertive and argumentative whereas the Japs are silent and sober. It's a quiet submission listening to what all the teachers have to say.
These traits of Japanese and the traits of the people of Manipur are not that different when it comes to questioning and accepting new ideas. Questioning is not encouraged in our schools. The students are not taught to be critical. The students grow up lacking creativity and objectivity. We are expected to believe that whatever the teachers teach us as true. We are supposed to cram and fill in our brains what craps our teachers teach us in our formative years.
Strong homogeneity in a society discourages growth of new ideas. The diversity and plurality are absent. Let's take this case of people who want to listen to heavy metal. Heavy metal as a genre of music is meant for the restless, wild and young generation who is looking for something new. People think that this music is meant for those who are self-indulgent, self-destructive and morally corrupted. They further think that these guys are unruly and badly behaved. The general perception about headbangers is that these guys are always hit by the psychedelic vortex. These people are scandalous. They are a bunch of maniacs.
They will do no good to the society. If you listen to heavy metal kind of songs, you are always labelled as a non-conformist or a rebel. You are accused of doping. You are not holy. You are unclean. Your morality is questioned. You are satanic. You are a devil. In fact, you don't have any qualities to be qualified as a conventional good person. Society expects you to think and act alike. Homogeneity is encouraged. Individuality and originality are discouraged. Yes, the ostracism can be felt. People who are different are an aberration.
Think of Motorhead, Metallica, Megadeth, Overkill, Manowar, Exodus etc. Conjure up an image. You will see those unruly guys. The angst-ridden guys screaming at the top of their voices. This is the angst of the generation trying to break free. They are iconoclastic. They are the mavericks. Headbangers are little different in that they are not sweet. They don't want to look cute. They are rude, crude and they don't want to kowtow. They are not diplomatic. They live in the world of their own. It is an attitude. It's a way of life.
Its about being strong, about taking on the world single-handedly, about having a damn care attitude, about articulating thoughts and about living life on one's own terms. Its about fighting the world and fighting the demons in each one of us. Headbangers are rebels who dare to be different. The idea of a headbangers may not be popular. But there is always a niche audience. They question and they are sceptical. They are not easily satisfied. These guys are much misunderstood.
Headbanging as a genre of music appealed to few of us as kids. We were bitten by this bug. We were not the anti-social. We didn't do drugs. We were dead against doping. It was not a stunt nor a gimmick. When friends of our generation were busy listening to the lyrical beauty of the Bollywood songs - we were exploring the world of the headbangers. Once you are hooked with heavy metal kind of songs you are past the point of no return. It's intriguing, compelling, exhausting and exciting.
As kids who were disenchanted and disillusioned with what was going on in this world. We wanted to shout it out and sing it out. This was our outlet to release that pent-up frustrations. This was the medium we used when we started listening. We looked so non-comformistic and at the risk of people labelling us as oddballs what we wanted to express is that it wasn't a deliberate attempt. It was how we were meant to be and we meant no harm. Vive la headbanging.
* Maisnam Chanu Liklainu wrote this article for The Sangai Express. This article was posted on February 13, 2012.
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