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Opinion: Defending Danzig

Posted by on September 5, 2017

Danzig released a video for “Last Ride” last week. Of course, within seconds, the keyboard warriors were all over it. In today’s metal world where “journalists” for large multi-national media companies can’t seem to even understand that Burzum is a one person musical act and that many fans started listening to metal long before hearing Chester Bennington on FM radio, bashing Danzig is always the order of the day. Danzig gets criticized for daring to question the motives of Barack Obama. He catches flack for losing his a bit of his vocal range.  (Who doesn’t lose range when they age past 50?). He even gets criticized for buying litter for his cats! I mean… the horror! The man loves his cats and wants to take care of them – oh my!  What a terrible person! So, of course, when he released the video for the latest single off the new record, Black Laden Crown, complaints and comments were posted faster than it takes Hillary Clinton to whip out the hot sauce from her purse while eating nachos at a Yankee game…. or is it Cubs games she goes to?  Maybe…. Chicago Bulls?  Anyway…

 

Look – the Misfits were about B movies. Not Dances With Wolves. Not The Piano. Not even something like Scream. Think I Turned into a Martian.  Think Return of the Fly… with Vincent Price  So… why are we to expect that Danzig videos are going to look like Duran Duran’s “Rio?” That’s not Danzig. Never was. Let’s go back to Danzig I. Anyone recall their first video? “Am I Demon?” Remember the scene when the woman slowly kisses the Pentagram ring? Remember when a scantily clad woman put her hands all over Danzig while he’s stationed on the cross with a goat head prop over his head? Wait a minute…. I can’t recall… wasn’t that actually Sir Laurence Olivier or Carey Grant under that head? Can’t remember…  

How about the video for “She Rides?”  Not exactly Clive Barker material. Maybe something more like Hellraiser: Deader. It was pure camp. On purpose. And if you don’t get the 1960’s Roger Corman/Go-Go Dancing Themes in that video you simply haven’t watched enough cable television. Influences taken from films like Faster Pussycat Kill Kill Kill, Girl in Gold Boots, and It’s a Bikini World abound in “She Rides.” Now I’m not saying those are great films and I’m not saying that those films are even appropriate for consumption by wide audiences  What I am saying is that those films influenced a generation and a subculture; one Danzig is part of.  

When Thurston Moore uses a $300 handheld camera to hastily record his shadow on the sidewalk as he’s walking as he does in his latest video, thousands of people immediately log off their tumblr accounts, put a pause on their virtue signaling on Twitter and rush to the comments section of Youtube in an attempt to be the first one to declare the brilliance and the artistry of the piece. See for yourself – go take a look at the video for “Smoke of Dreams” recently released for the absolutely horrendous new record, Rock and Roll (Un?)Consciousness. At least Danzig makes videos that are interesting to watch, maybe even nostalgic and a slight step up from an 8th grader’s C+ video narrative project. (Apologies to 8th graders with C+ averages everywhere.) What’s the difference of course? Moore is a darling of the radical left and Danzig appears on Fox News. So for that reason alone, radical left-wing, scene-touristy, metal culture believes it’s ok to judge anything Danzig does by his political orientations.  

Additionally, the Millennial Generation needs to realize that there is little to no money for music video production these days. Remember the 90’s when Anton Corbin used to make epic vids for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” and Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box?” Well, between then and now people stopped paying for music and Live Nation took over control of nearly every major venue and ticketing agent. That means there’s a very small comparative fraction of revenue coming into the labels, the artists and production talent. With less revenue and less return on investment, production of video had to change. Thank you “sharing economy” and “crony capitalism.”

Indeed Danzig had some lucrative years when Danzig III hit big and HR Giger came on board to help take Danzig’s art down a much more serious and darker avenue, but those were fleeting years and he had the budget of Def American behind him. When industrial and nu-metal came along, things had changed in terms of consumer buying patterns. By the time metal recovered from its years of slumber, Napster and Pirate Bay was in full swing and suddenly everyone realized that paying for music was really a thing our parents did; just like paying tolls with cash and visiting bank tellers.

Look, we all know not everything Danzig did was good. Skeletons should never have happened. 70% of Black Acid Devil was an experiment gone wrong. Someone should have stolen Glenn’s NIN CDs from his house and hid them in that pile of bricks. But for all those misses there are an incredibly high number of hits. And I’m not just talking about the video where Chuck Biscuits shows us his breakfast cereal collection – I mean fantastic songs that will stand up over centuries.  

I have great memories of seeing Danzig with my brother in NYC and NJ, and recognizing familiar faces from high school at Danzig shows. Also love randomly running into Kenny Hickey, Johnny Kelly, Bobby Steele and Steve Zing at North Jersey Horror Conventions (all incredibly down to earth people who are so nice to their fans). And, of course, remember that Danzig and all of his bands were about “B” culture – things that weren’t produced for the masses and weren’t considered for the Oscars. Rather, things were experimental, deliberately creepy, fantastical and silly – but also fun.  

If you grew up in NYC and watched late night horror on Channel 11 (WPIX) or George Romero’s Tales from the Darkside a bit later – you are in Danzig’s target market. And that’s what his work does – it takes you back to different time and place – just for a little while. Indeed it was a time before political correctness and a time when many in America were shallow and ignorant. Liking pieces of art from those time periods doesn’t make one a bad person  Yes, treating women like objects does make one a bad person – but if that’s the message you get from watching Danzig videos, you aren’t understanding what’s actually happening and need much more context. So while every metal critic on the {true} horror known as social media will continue to waste time with incessant rants about “how bad this is” in the hunt for “Likes,” the rest of us will continue to enjoy Danzig’s music, his art, his unrelenting dedication to his fans, his killer performances and, yes, his campy videos…. Contextually.  

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