“Spoken like a true circle queen. See, skinny, socially-privileged white people get to draw this neat little circle. And everyone inside the circle is “normal”. Anyone outside the circle needs to be beaten, broken and reset so that they can be brought into the circle. Failing that, they should be institutionalized. Or worse – Pitied. Why would you feel sorry for someone that gets to opt out of the inane courteous formalities which are utterly meaningless, insincere and therefore degrading? This kid doesn’t have to pretend to be interested in your back pain, your secretions or your grandma’s itchy place. Imagine how liberating it would be to live a life free of all the mind-numbing social niceties. I don’t pity this kid – I envy him.—–House, M.D Episode Lines in the Sand
While the show House, M.D was still airing, I fell in absolute love with the lead character played by Hugh Laurie. He was an ass, a big one. What made me really love him was the fact that he did not care about what society thought of him, no matter the circumstance. He went the extra mile, he helped others that would be otherwise overlooked (for whatever reason), and he was an intelligent man. The quote I’ve posted above for you is probably one of my favorites, because of how true it is.
I first started this post with the intention of showing the world why shock rock isn’t actually all that shocking, but I’ve decided in the process of writing multiple drafts that I would turn this into much more. In order to do that, however, I am going to have to slice open a lot of my own wounds and let them bleed. I will have to walk down a dark memory lane that I would prefer never to see again, but in order to get my point across I must provide ample evidence–and since the best evidence is often our personal experiences, I am left with little choice. For such a cause as this, however, I am willing–and happy–to do so.
Though I was not aware of the actual “Circle Society” concept, part of me always knew of its existence. When I was in fourth grade, I changed schools. I wanted to desperately to fit in, as I had no friends. I’d spent the early part of my life surrounded by adults, and I spent preschool-third grade surrounded by friends. This was, to say the least, a huge change for me. Not only was this school bigger than what I was used to (the school I originally attended was preschool-12th, all in one building. This was just two grades and the numbers were about equal in attendance), but there were a lot more rich, white people. The jump I made, therefore, was not just in school and town, but now I was surrounded by an entirely different social class. Unfortunately, our money didn’t change with it, so I was still middle class trying to play up to the expectations of the first.
I remember there was this girl, a bit younger than me. She and I were friends so long as her posse wasn’t nearby. Well, wanting so desperately to fit in I decided I wanted to try to be their friends as well. They looked down their noses at me at first, and then put me through a series of vigorous tests. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to prove myself worthy enough to be in their circle, and this was only the fourth grade! I was told who I could and couldn’t speak to, how to dress, how to talk, etc. I was given a list of the latest “slang” that I had to use at any given moment. If I were to ever get in trouble, I was told to play stupid because “that will always get you out of trouble”. There was no friendship here, only numbers and status quo. Needless to say it did not take long for me to realize that I’d rather be alone than be caught up in such closed minded behavior. The moment I realized I did not need them, I started gathering other friends and created my own little circle, and we were the misfits of the schoolyard.
I wasn’t done trying to fit in, however. The way the school system was set up in this town, I changed schools once more to go to middle school. Some of my friends accompanied me, others went off to different schools, and I was again left alone. But I can honestly say I tried my hardest to fit in. I read magazines, I kept up with the music that was “in” at the time, so forth. I tried, once more, to be friends with the popular girls (individually a lot of these girls were pretty awesome to have as friends, it was only when they were in pack formation that they became the demon spawn of all that was popular). I went to church, joined Christian functions and clubs, etc. Looking back now I rather hate myself for how long I stayed in my land of self discovery when it seemed everyone around me had already found their place in the world.
There was one person who meant the world to me. She was my sanctuary. When things got tough at home, I ran to her side. She never judged me, only tried to help me. I wish there were more people like her in the world, because it would be a far better place if there were. My 6th grade year of school, however, she passed away from cancer and I was left feeling completely alone. This is not a good place for a soon-t0-be teenager to be, especially one who already feels rather isolated. I was not really accepted in my own family (because I was not male), I was not accepted in the groups of people around me (because I wasn’t rich, or stupid, enough), and now the one person I could rely on was gone….
A darkness began growing within me, one that I could not explain to those around me. I could not put into words what I felt festering within my mind, so I turned to poetry. That was my new release. I began dressing in all black, because that is how I felt. Black and dark. This may seem rather cliche’ to you, but this was the closest I came to finding myself at that age. I isolated myself even further, preferring to sit out and read rather than participate with the others. I embraced that feeling of darkness for the longest time, but even still part of me longed to fit in. If only I could have killed that piece of me earlier on, perhaps I would not have experienced much of what I have.
I was taken to a therapist that diagnosed me Depressed (No duh), and medicated me to the point that I became a zombie. At least, that’s how I describe it. I felt nothing. It was a terrifying feeling, to tell you the truth. I felt no emotions, I felt no joy. Only that darkness grew within me and begged to be released. I cut myself, mutilated my arms and still carry the scars to this day. It was the only way I could feel anything. It started off as simple cuts, just to remind myself that I was still alive, but steadily those little cuts did nothing for me and they became burns, slices, cuts with scissors, etc. I remember having an eraser and scrubbing the skin off of my hand just to try and make sense of what I was feeling inside, and make it a physical feeling. That’s why a lot of people cut or self mutilate. Emotions are illogical, they are not physical things. It is very hard to fix something that is not physical. But when cutting yourself, you’ve put into physical means what you are feeling on the inside, and a physical wound can be fixed. (Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form condoning self harm. If you feel the urge to self harm, please seek help from someone. It does not have to be a therapist, or psychiatrist, but seek help somewhere.)
The psychiatrist I was seeing that had me so medicated ended up being just another money hungry jerk who saw only dollar signs when he looked at me. I felt completely betrayed and no matter how many times I tried to tell those around that the medication was not working, no one would listen to me. Finally one night, I decided “No one will listen to me. I do not feel alive. Why should I keep walking around like an animated corpse?” and tried to overdose on some of those medications I’d been described. I had a terrible sense of irony even then, you see, and I wanted the cause of my death to be the very thing that was supposed to “help” me.
People say that attempting, or committing, suicide is cowardice. I disagree. When you are faced with your own death, and you decide to take it, it is one of the bravest things you’ll ever have to decide. The braver thing, however, is telling this feeling, this urge, to end your own life “No. I will not go through with this.” I hate hearing people talk about teen suicide and say things like “It’s just the “in thing” now.” I’ve been in this situation, I know what mindset you have to be in to go through with it. In those moments after I took those pills, I accepted my death and for those few moments I felt peace at last.
Obviously I am here, and I am writing this to you, so you are aware that I did not succeed in killing myself. I was taken to the hospital where my stomach was pumped (ew), and after a night in the ICU–as well as a few days in a regular room–I was shipped off to a mental rehabilitation center. I was alienated there as well. My first night there, a girl who was meant to be my roommate threatened to kill me. Keep in mind, I’m 13 years old at the time. That terrified me. The patients–with the exception of that girl–were actually quite nice to me. It was the people that were supposed to “help” us that were cruel. I was made fun of on a daily basis, and if some of the other patients taunted or teased me they weren’t stopped (in fact, often times these “counselors” would jump in to join the “fun”). There was one girl in particular that I became very close with, and I clung to her like she was the last solid thing on this earth. As a result, I was openly called “a disgusting lesbian”. Nine days I spent in this place. Nine days of hell. Nine days of never ending torment from people that were supposed to better us. Though I suppose they were preparing us for the real world, and they helped make me stronger. According to my medical records and tests, I wasn’t depressed, I was bipolar. The drugs that the first psychiatrist had prescribed me had actually proven to increase suicidal tendencies in people under the age of 18, and I was on quite a few drugs.
I felt paranoid, out of place, and now I was bullied because of the fact that I’d been in a “nut house”. One girl even shoved me to the ground and told me “What, too stupid to die or something?”
Now, here’s where the story changes. As alone, and horrible as I felt, I reached out for anything that would help. Back when MTV played music (I know, what a concept right?), I would leave that channel on all the time. Late at night one evening, I discovered The Osbournes, which then led me to discover Ozzy. I grabbed that and held on to it, siphoning as much of it as I could find. I remember his lyrics hitting home in a way I’d never experienced before.
All the things I put me through
I wouldn’t wish my hell on you
You’ll never know what’s going on inside
Just another lonely broken hero
Picking up the pieces of my mind
Running out of faith and hope and reason
I’m running out of time
Running out of time
Trouble always seems find
A way to live inside my mind
My haunted head and me remain alone
Underneath my masquerade
A simple man who’s so afraid
I try to find a light to guide me home
I remember one night I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone, a very dear friend who saw me through a lot of my internal demons. I regret to this day hurting her like I did when I attempted suicide, and I’m not sure that she’s ever completely forgiven me. But I digress. On the phone, had MTV in the background, the Osbournes had already gone off and I remember saying “I just wish someone understood what I was going through. I just wish someone other than you understood me.” And as soon as the sentence left my mouth, the premiere of mObscene, by Marilyn Manson, came on. I looked into his eyes, and felt immediately a connection. I cannot describe it, but I knew that anyone who looked like that HAD to understand what I was feeling.
I became obsessed with Ozzy, Manson, Queen, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, etc. All these “shockers” that people warned against. I felt a connection with them, I felt like I belonged with them. They were putting my feelings into words that I could never find on my own. I started cutting myself a bit less and less, but still I was not quite the same. I was getting closer, though! So close to finding myself and finding where I fit in.
One day, during my Physical Education class, the teacher wasn’t there so we started watching a movie called Bowling for Columbine. Marilyn Manson comes onto the screen, and of course the other girls (who bullied me constantly–they were the ones who said I was just too stupid to die)) started making fun of him. “He’s weird.” “Bet he worships the devil” “That mother fucker is insane.” Then, of course, they all looked at me. “Do you actually like this fucker?” “Yes I do.” “You’re just as fucked up as he is.” I took that as a compliment. “Really? You really think so? That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me all year. I’m so glad you think of me as intelligent, open minded, and not afraid to say what I think.” And she shut up. Oh my god. She. Shut. Up. She stopped picking on me! I could have done happy dances!
As we were watching the interview, an almost magical thing happened. The room had fallen completely silent, and I could actually hear what was being said. Michael Moore asked:
If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?
I leaned closer, wanting to hear precisely how Manson would answer. When he did answer, it felt like he was talking directly to me.
I wouldn’t say a single word to them I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.
That stuck with me. To this day it sticks with me. No one had listened to me, and look where I’d ended up. I knew, in that moment however, that I would probably never meet Marilyn Manson. But it was such a relief to know that if the day ever came, he would listen to me. More importantly, he would understand. That’s what I lacked in life. Someone to listen to me, and someone to understand me. I was still on medication at the time, and it was making me feel terrible. I felt paranoid all the time, I felt upset constantly. I could not handle my emotions, or the world around me. I tried (once more) to tell everyone that the medicine was not working. No one listened, again. When I heard him say that, I finally had the courage to do what I felt was right. I had the courage to do all of this on my own, because I had the release I needed and it didn’t involve cutting, it didn’t involve counselors or therapists. It didn’t involve people controlling my life for me. It involved me taking control of my own life and deciding that no matter what this “disorder” brought my way, I was going to beat it. If people that I looked up to could stand in front of the public eye and beat their demons all the time, damn it, so could I.
Music was my inspiration, and music was my weapon.
People like Ozzy Osbourne and Marilyn Manson are weird. They’ve done a lot of fucked up shit. But because they did a lot of fucked up shit, they understand it better than anyone else. They aren’t shocking, they are being blunt and pushing things into your faces that make you think. That’s what a lot of people don’t want to do. They don’t want to think. System of a Down is the same way.
These same circle societies are the ones who point fingers at them. Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, etc caused my son/daughter/friend, etc to commit suicide. I highly doubt that. Chances are, your friend/son/daughter, etc wasn’t that balanced anyway. Shock Rockers promote evil and worship Satan, it says so in their music. No, actually if you read the lyrics and comprehend what they are saying, there is a far deeper message.
Side note, did you know that the word “Satan” means to “oppose or rebel”? Meaning if you’ve rebelled against something at any point in your life, you are being Satan. “Hail Satan” therefore means “Yay rebellion!” Sort of. Lol.
Shock Rock is designed to entertain, to make you think, to make you accept what people try to make you forget (political, religious, etc happenings), and so on.
“But what about the children? Do we want to promote this message to our children?” A). You are the parent. You should control what your child sees/hears, etc. If your child is listening to Black Sabbath, that is not the fault of Black Sabbath. The members of Black Sabbath did not come into your child’s room and say “LISTEN TO US OR WE’LL CUT YOUR ARM OFF AND BEAT YOU WITH IT”. B). Yes, how dare we promote free thinking to our children. C). While you’re telling them not to go to that Alice Cooper concert, but handing them money so they can go see that horror movie everyone is talking about, you might want to rethink your standing as a parent.
Shock Rockers are scapegoats, because it is easy to blame them. They’re in the public, they’re, supposedly, shocking….But people need to start taking responsibility for their own actions rather than blaming the closest person around them. Unless these people actually walk into your house, you cannot blame them for the actions of your friends/children/family members.
This does not just apply to music, of course, it applies to everything in the world. Books, for example, have always been a very deep thinking tool, and weapon–a weapon that is, let’s face it, far deadlier than music will ever be–ever since the printing press was invented. No, further still, since written language was created. Humans are deadly.
I know this blog has been quite long, and I thank all of you for reading this in its entirety. I could continue on in this fashion for ages, but I will simply wrap up with this.
If you, my dear reader, have felt alone, confused, etc and have contemplated suicide, I urge you to find your sanctuary in something. I urge you to find your release in anything that will help you. You are not alone, no matter how you may feel. You do not have to find your sanctuary in music as I have done, but find it somewhere. The world does not get better, but you can become stronger and battle it.
If you seek help, friendship, etc, you are more than welcome to leave a comment or contact me in some way. I make myself readily available, and though I am not a trained psychologist/therapist/psychiatrist, I can listen and I will try to help in some way.
But most importantly… Everyone needs to remember that the circles of society are not the place to be. Be happy with who you are, create your own circle, and be proud of yourself. Do not care of the closed minded hatred they spew, you are stronger than that. Walk your own path, discover who you are.
Thank you all once more for reading this, and I hope it’s provided a good amount of insight as well as, possibly, helped someone.