Girl Suicides Raise Worries Over 'Black Metal' Music

The AFP has issued the following report:

The joint suicide of two teenage girls who hurled themselves from a 17th-floor window (photo) in a Paris suburb has raised troubling questions about the influence of "black metal" — a form of modern rock music that glorifies violence and death.

Last Friday afternoon (Sept. 23) Marion (photo) and Virginie, both aged 14, visited a friend's apartment at the top of a tower-block in the middle-class suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine.

After telling him to wait in an adjoining room and expect a "surprise", they bound their hands together. "Then they said, 'Come in.' And I saw them on the window-ledge. I couldn't do anything. They just jumped," the friend Benjamin later told the press.

In one of their pockets was found a note reading: "Life isn't worth it."

Both girls — it transpired — were heavily influenced by the so-called goth movement. They wore black clothes and body studs. Friends said they were obsessed by talk of suicide, and a weblog kept by Marion reveals an angry and self-hating stream of consciousness centring on sex, ugliness and death.

The weblog also contains long extracts of lyrics from French "black metal" group ANOREXIA NERVOSA (photo) — creators of a recent album called "Suicide is Sexy" — whose content leaves little to the imagination.

"I hate you. I vomit on your soul and family. Death to your parents. Torture and rape to your children. I hate you to death," are the words of one song on the weblog. "You are the whore of human weakness. Tepid and obscene. Blinded by the sweaty desire of vanity. Worthless."

Another reads: "I can't take it any more. I have had enough. I have burned my eyes and I am afraid."

In songs with names such as "First Taste of Faecal Matter" and "Discordant Effects of Suicide", the Limoges-based group delivers a high-velocity rant backed by thrashing guitars and drums. On stage they wear white face make-up with blackened eyes to evoke the look of corpses.

"Sadly the suicides do not surprise me," said Jacky Cordonnier, a French expert on the goth movement who advises the government on cults.

"There is a drift into Satanism. A structured movement with absolutely no scruples is trying to take over and manipulate the young, and it can lead them into this kind of extreme behaviour," he said.

The goth movement began in Britain in the 1980s when it expressed a passive morbidity influenced by poets like Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire, according to Cordonnier.

But in recent years it has been totally transformed, and its extreme exponents in the "death metal" and "black metal" music genres flirt with a kind of neo-Nazi paganism. In northern Europe groups associated with so-called Viking rock are overtly political.

Other groups whose influence Cordonnier decries are the American SLIPKNOT, DEICIDE and the singer MARILYN MANSON — whose recent concert in Switzerland was vehemently opposed by conservative campaigning groups.

"Yes, we have to differentiate between groups that preach Satanism or neo-nazism as an ideology and others that say it is just an act. But even among these there is a moral responsibility. Young people react differently. Some will just have fun, but others will genuinely enter the spirit of it — and then anything can happen," he said.

According to Paul Aries, author of a recent book on the goth movement, "There is no question that fantasising over extremely morbid images to a very violent form of music can undermine young adolescents and leave them in a destructured state.

"But what is more worrying is why so many young people choose to live out their normal teenage rebellion on this type of nihilistic and death-obsessed terrain. It is dangerous not just for the individual involved, but for society in general," he said.
"It is a symptom of something very sick in our civilisation."

A spokesman for ANOREXIA NERVOSA's record label, Listenable, expressed distress at news of their link to the suicides, but defended them against charges that they prey on teenage insecurities. The group is on tour in Norway.

"If you want someone to blame, blame society. Just turn on the television. Look at the violence children are faced with from the day they are born. Society is the problem," he said.

Jeff Veillet, of leading French rock magazine Rock One, agreed: "Yes, there is a provocative side to groups like ANOREXIA. But just because they talk about death in their songs, it does not mean they want people to commit suicide. It is an act — a way of getting through to adolescents. They are not aggressive people at all.

"And anyway people through the years have committed suicide to all kinds of music — not just black metal," he said.

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