I Mosh Therefore I Am: The Lebanese Media’s Witch Hunt
The Lebanese media recently resurrected the crusade against the metal community, a community that yours truly is still a proud member of and has been for the past decade. This witch hunt has harmed hundreds of innocent people over the past 15 years and has targeted metal-heads all over the country for the shallowest of reasons; persecuting us for wearing black, growing our hair, getting tattoos and even wearing spiked arm bands, categorizing us as Satanists, drug abusers and going so far as calling us necrophiliacs. Just as it did in the years of 1996, 2001, 2004 and 2006, the Lebanese media continues to target metal-heads claiming that there is something wrong with them, that they are outrageous and should be looked upon with the utmost vigilance. Yet the media has failed, continuously, in researching metal music, and has never even taken the time to listen to the bands they claim are ruining the fragile youth of the country. The sad thing is that the reporters that have spearheaded this campaign, MTV’s Joe Maalouf and al-Jadeed’s Dalal Bazzi, have displayed an agonizing lack of knowledge that does more harm than good, choosing, instead, to redefine terms such as head-banging, mosh-pits, and even metal-heads, in an attempt to gain ground in a field congested with newbie reporters trying to make a name for themselves.
In a typical TV report broadcast this week, Dalal Bazzi unearthed a topic that was thought to have been long forgotten – a scoop which, in her view, is something that she will be remembered for. Bazzi mishandled the case of a metal concert happening at a school in Lebanon, focusing her attention on the graffiti on the wall, particularly a pentagram. She interviewed local people who saw the concert as a Black Mass. In her two minute report, Dalal did not interview any metal-heads, instead focusing on the people of the community where the concert took place as they bemoaned what they considered the loss of their youths’ innocence. Bazzi’s amateurish report paved the way for other reporters and presenters to try to outdo each other, victimizing a group of people already under suspicion and surveillance.
In his show “Enta Horr,” TV presenter Joe Maalouf picked up the torch where Dalal left off. Sounding like a concerned parent, Maalouf, after showing a short clip from concert, welcomed a caller, Eddie, who was allegedly at the event. The witness described the concert as a Satanic gathering, filled with drugs and devilish rituals, claiming that the people engaged in mosh-pits were high on hallucinogens. Maalouf was nodding in agreement and chimed in with his sole witness to assure that the drug intake was obvious and clear, although the claim cannot be proven with the seconds of footage that was broadcast. Eddie went on to talk about the Satanic lyrics that accompanied the heavy metal music. Maalouf meanwhile chose to focus on the location of the event, claiming that the venue was a convent. Eddie picked up where the host left off and in a confident tone revealed that it was chosen on purpose, claiming that the event’s place and timing was chosen on purpose by the “Satanic Church.” All that was missing is a claim that Free Masons orchestrated the whole thing. The witness known only as Eddie spoke in a manner that left one to presume that he held some sort of grudge towards the metal community. There was no proof whatsoever that the witness was present at the concert except for his word.
To not appear unprofessional, Maalouf opened the air to a rebuttal from Bassem Deaibess, a lead-singer for a local metal band. Deaibess, whose band Blaakyum was part of the line-up for the gig, was given little time to deliver his rebuttal; instead he was constantly interrupted and hassled by the host, unlike the purported “witness.” Maalouf, fearing to be proved wrong by a person who was “actually” there, stood his ground and fought Deaibess on every statement. Deaibess tried tirelessly to get his message across, amid the ridicule and childishness of the host. Joe went on and on about the drug intake of the audience, while Deaibess found himself arguing with an opponent rather than a moderator. Joe steered the conversation towards moshing, which he referred to as “unnatural,” mocking any attempt by the caller to explain the phenomenon.
A little simple research by the host, making use of the popular site Wikipedia perhaps, would have provided him with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Moshing, in a strict sense, is a style of dance where participants push or slam into each other.” A deeper search would have lead to an award-winning university study from the University of Alberta, Canada, where a student won an award for researching the subculture that are mosh pits. Joe relied instead on the words of his colleagues, who he claims are avid metal-heads, who guaranteed him that mosh-pits are not common at metal concerts. Yet in my humble experience it is very rare for a metal concert, locally or globally, not to have a mosh-pit. It is part of the atmosphere.
Joe ended the segment by blaming the government, as is usual when any problem arises. Beseeching the public to use their brains, he went on to say that this is not over, as his show will attempt to infiltrate such events in an attempt to further investigate this “unnatural” phenomena. Investigating it with blind eyes will cause further harm. We are members of this community, we are bankers, doctors, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.
We are not a tumor.
A sickening lack of professionalism was the reason why so many people were wrongfully accused in the past. So many metal-heads have been interrogated, harassed and beaten, all thanks to media outlets that have failed to research a community, which is celebrated in other areas of the world. Their crusade is a blatant attack on the freedoms of a group of people who listen to metal music, a music genre that is wrongly seen as a call to satanism. That is appalling and sad. Metal-heads are called satanists in a show of ignorance and arrogance. TV presenters should be objective and should research every word they say, instead of shouting fanatically about things they know nothing about, allowing their personal beliefs and values to blind their objective position. Metal music has been around for decades, and has been fought by every faction of our society – that doesn’t mean it shall cease to exist.