Kumbaya, my lord, Lucifer

In 2016, we’re exposed to more beliefs, lifestyles and opinions than ever before. The internet has helped connect people with similar or identical beliefs and show them that they’re not alone in how they feel, or what they believe. Not only can people connect, but information regarding different ideologies is readily available for someone feeling confused or simply for a reader’s interest. While the week’s reading focused more closely on gaming, television and film, we still encounter different beliefs in audio and music. It’s safe to say that all music is written to convey or capture an emotion – whether lyrics are involved at all or not. Music (like paintings) can be left to the listener to decide how it makes them feel, and whether they like it or not. However, lyrics can more acutely state a message and regardless of our own beliefs, an audio engineer working with an artists with a strong message can become tangled in an ideology. On top of this, artists with a bad reputation can leave an imprint on a producer or engineer, regardless of the engineer’s work ethic. Being self employed, we can be constantly on the clock, regardless of where (e.g. online or in person) we’re seen.
This leads me first to religion. Traditional and stereotypically, heavy metal is associated with the Devil. The stereotype exists for a reason, because it isn’t without some truth and musicians who follow a Satanic or Luciferian belief system.
Because of this stereotype, many heavy metal (and punk, for this example) are subject to stereotypes as well as missed opportunities because of assumptions about their lifestyles (and not just by dedicated Christians). On the contrary, music defined as ‘Christian’ is equally shunned because it’s assumed to be sing-songs and renditions of Kumbaya. The readings this week discussed reinforcing negative stereotypes and, as an engineer aspiring to work primarily with heavy metal bands (e.g. not necessarily satanic), it’s important for me to shed the cliche because heavy metal and rock bands exists that also define themselves as Christian (again, more than an acoustic guitar and a campfire). In the most selfish sense of it – I would be limiting my own workload and potential clientele if I adhered to a negative stereotype. In an ideal world, my work would shine through regardless of the bands I work with, but the world isn’t ideal. On the other hand, if my beliefs are A) upfront enough to be contended and B) controversial enough to be controversial, I’m doing something wrong. Firstly, it’s important that we can continue to work professionally on projects with bands that ‘pay the bills’, but that these kind of projects don’t detract from the quality of our work because of our own beliefs and opinions. Secondly, the work we’ve done for bands that don’t adhere to our next clients’ beliefs should hold no meaning for my work, because I should present my way in a matter so professional that it’s never an issue. It’s important that we ensure our clients’ beliefs and messages aren’t tangled with our own, and that’s our responsibility.
As professional practitioners and (maybe) freelance audio engineers in 2016, we may get a lot of our business via clients seeing/hearing and contacting us via the internet. Because it’s so crucial to have an up to date and busy social network, we can run into our issues. The lines between our personal life and our professional online persona become blurred, sometimes before we realise it. Applications like Instagram and websites like Facebook can easily show a more personal side of ourselves – whether good or bad. The readings this week recommended that when involving a marginalised group, to include many examples to avoid stereotyping and representing a wider breadth of people. In audio, we can do the opposite, and assume that a wide breadth of people are reading our posts and seeing our pictures – so don’t say anything that would offend someone. posts showing a darker side to our heroes, or vice versa, showing prospective clients a side of us we didn’t want them to see. In early 2016, Phil Anselmo of Pantera was recorded doing a salute and yelling “White Power” into a crowd at a concert held for slain Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrel Abbot (Note: the attached video may offend some viewers) and palmed it off as an extension of a joke he shared backstage.
The last three-four years has seen controversy over Kanye West’s Twitter account because he speaks his mind in a way that might be okay for an average user, but his online persona has eclipsed his professional and personal.
In conclusion, gender, race, beliefs and religion affect audio engineering too. We’ve seen our own idols (not always engineers) fall when the lines between personal and professional life become blurred, and it’s important to keep our market as open as possible, as extreme beliefs can limit the people who want to work with us.
Watain – Malfeitor Live @ Metropol, Hultsfred 2015. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 28 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhb6DvBaX6Y
Pantera Vocalist Phil Anselmo Seen Doing “White Power” Salute | Rock Feed. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 28 March 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhmLtkWd5AA

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