Why Every Metalhead Should Be Concerned


by T. Ray Verteramo
October 17, 2016

The American presidential election is a circus the whole world watches every four years. However, this year, the competition is not merely between a douche and a turd sandwich (thank you, South Park!), but a controversial, possible historical choice and a genuine threat.

Regardless of what your views may be, regardless of where you stand for civil equality or whether you believe Trump’s “locker room talk” is just that or sex-predatorial behavior, it doesn’t matter. Whether or not you love or hate Donald Trump, if you are a Metalhead, it would be wise to worry about him for one issue and one issue only:


CNN posted an opinion piece, “Trump’s Beef With SNL is No Laughing Matter”  crafted by Dean Obeidallah, a sometimes stand-up comic and the co-director of the documentary, The Muslims Are Coming! detailing this very concern, using Trump’s response to Saturday Night Live’s spoof on the second debate. He states:

“All kidding aside, Trump’s tweet that ‘SNL’ needs to be canceled because the show did a ‘hit job’ on him should concern every American. We have a rich tradition of comedy shows skewering our politicians. I can’t recall any President or presidential nominee responding to a TV show mocking him or her by saying it’s time to take that show off the airwaves.

But, then drives the point home:

Although I have performed stand-up in the Middle East, where leaders have shared a similar sentiment. In fact, Egypt’s Jon Stewart, Bassem Youssef, was arrested for mocking the then leader of Egypt and his TV show was ultimately canceled. But is that really a model we want to emulate in the United States?”

There is not one single leader of the free world, or un-free world, in any minute of history that has ever escaped criticism or mockery – that’s the price of power. What do you think the first thing a dictator calls for in order to ensure their absolute reign? They call to shut the people up to make them afraid to speak against them.

Once human expression is controlled, everything is controlled; what we learn, what we see, what we hear, how we live, who to love, George Orwell’s 1984. It starts with censorship.

“Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

Consider the difference between Trump’s stomping foot to call for the removal of a piece of theater from our culture and Peron’s control over the press, or Hitler’s demand for books to be burned, or the PMRC’s campaign to treat Heavy Metal the same as porn by limiting the accessible age and venue.

Or did you forget the latter…? It was only 30 years ago. Newsweek — Parental Advisory Forever: An Oral History of the PMRC’s War on Dirty Lyrics

The defunct Parent’s Music Resource Center did not like what Metal had to say. They hated what it stood for and detested Metal’s fearlessness and prowess. They did not like its attitude of self-empowerment, basking on the dark side, and songs of death, blood, fear, desecration, rebellion, violence, sex, and conquest. They did not like what threatened their ideals and they tried to shut us up.

rs-209391-pmrc_01_1985_003mark_weissxThe PMRC wanted to put our heroes in the back room behind beaded curtains along with fist-banging college girls and strange hitchhikers with 13-inch penises picking up more than rides. The disturbing thing was that they nearly succeeded.

What saved us was the powerful testimony of Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver reminding the committee about our beloved First Amendment and calling out their fear and ignorance of our art. What we got were warning labels that still do us more good than harm.

But, the shield of the First Amendment may or may not be strong enough for a Commander-in-Chief who would be determined to chip away at its armor the second his fragile ego takes a hit.

hqdefault-1Censorship has a domino effect. Do we want to waste our government’s time and resources questioning a human right when it should concentrate on other matters like foreign relations, homeland security, infrastructure, the environment, and the economy? Because that is what can potentially happen.

Vote for who you want. This is neither an endorsement or a slam. But, before you pull those levers and check those boxes, ask yourself how much your music means to you and if you think it’s tough enough to survive a world leader with paper skin.


CNN Feature

index“Before Marilyn Manson, there was everyone else. Rather than try to understand or even pay any kind of real attention to what was happening, members of the Moral Majority determined that the heavy metal influence was a satanic influence. Ozzy Osbourne’s infamous, “Suicide Solution” presented a prime example of the present hyper-defensive climate, as every Metalhead in the world understood that the song was written about the late Bon Scott, former lead vocalist of AC/DC. But, rather than doing any respectful research, the Moral Majority and other intimidated self-appointed and elected elders of the communal council jumped to the conclusion that the song was giving instruction on how to take one’s life. At the same token, Iron Maiden’s legendary “Number of the Beast” is a classic composition about a dream, but the voting folks just took bits and pieces of the tune, came to their own conclusions, and proclaimed them to be advocates of Satan. Fear mongering escalated nearly out of control, bringing Tipper Gore (then wife of former vice president, Al Gore) to the forefront of the anti-conformity battle, with her minions marching behind her, calling themselves the Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC) and they meant business.” – T. Ray

September 2, 2013

On an unusually cool morning in Austin, I saw the ad for citizen reporters to share their personal experience from the ’80’s. Before I even started my coffee I said, “I got this,” and my submission practically wrote itself. Headbangers was one of nine essays vetted and chosen out of 60 entries to be featured. When the article was published, it gained a little attention from some of the bigger Metal Facebook pages. I did some reviews, went on to do some interviews, then…

Being alive is sometimes like swing dancing: You just go where you’re thrown, find your groove, and try to stay on your feet. As long as the music keeps playing, you’re alright.

Living Metal: Headbangers and the Witch Hunters

720x405-pmrc_02_1985_013©mark_weissx’80’s Throwback: What Life Looked Like When Crossfire First Aired – Feature Article

From the Report: “Music defined us. T. Ray Verteramo fell in love with heavy metal, which was under heavy fire at the time by Tipper Gore and those of the self-proclaimed moral majority. It was a topic of discussion on ‘Crossfire’ when Frank Zappa was a guest. Verteramo believed it to be an issue of free speech. The experience shaped her. ‘When you’re judged so readily, so quickly, and so harshly for so long, it’s hard not to become more empathetic...”