Do or just for pleasure. Music can

Do rock groups
and stars promote violence in young people?  Throughout history humans have been attracted
to music – either for emotional or religious reasons, or just for
pleasure.  Music can be used to express ourselves,
to tell a story or to let others into our thoughts.  However, from the 1990s references have often
been made to link violence and deviant behaviour to specific types of music,
particularly, heavy metal, rock and rap music.

The issue around questionable moral and behavioural
aspects of music and its influence on the young began with the birth of popular
music in the 1950s.  Elvis Presley
introduced young, white people to rock and roll music, the origins of which came
from Rhythm and Blues (RnB) which was more commonly associated with African Americans.  Elvis Presley was known for his suggestive
movements on stage involving hip twists. 
The older generations found this to be shocking and unacceptable and
potentially harmful and claimed it would damage the moral development of the
young.  Steps were made to try and ban his
music, particularly on television programmes.

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Similar steps have been taken in more recent times
regarding questionable behaviours by rock musicians.  Rock star Marilyn Manson on stage
behaviour and lyrics were blamed in America for the Columbine High school
shooting that happened on the 20th April 1999. 
They blamed him for this event because the lyrics in one of his
songs were telling people to kill. The two boys responsible were listening to
him before they went out and shot 13
people dead. Manson received a lot of abuse for these murders.  The boys listened to his music because of
what he sang about and to get hyped up to go and commit this horrendous crime.  Marilyn Manson changed his surname to Manson
after the serial killer and cult leader Charles Manson.  It could be suggested that Manson promotes
violence because he took the name from a serial killer specially to appeal to a
young following.  He took the
name of a serial killer and became famous for it.  Yet is this
not all just theatre?

One reason rock music is said to promote violence is
the lyrics.  A lot of rock stars use explicit language and sing
about suicide, drugs and sex.  This
language is often used to shock people and increase publicity. It is used to
deliberately can cause offence and to create a reaction from lots of people
that do not like to hear this type of language. An example of these lyrics is “Who says date rape isn’t fun, …the housewife I will beat,
and I slit my teenage wrist,” It is claimed that for the young
or vulnerable in society these lyrics could also encourage them to hurt
themselves or others.   By listening to these songs with destructive
themes, they may be more likely to imitate this bad behaviour celebrated by
their idols.  For example, a
teenager in Fort Worth, Texas, Jay Fieldon Howell, stabbed a fourteen-year-old
girl in the neck killing her. He was a huge fan of rock singer Marilyn Manson,
who is known for having violent and satanic themes in most of his music,
so many people claimed that listening to this had caused Howell’s violent
behaviour.

A second reason is the type of people that sing rock
music and how violent they can be – smashing and trashing guitars, lights and
even hotel rooms. Aerosmith reportedly used to bring a chainsaw on tour, so
they could use it on hotel room furniture, and extension cords so they could
drop TVs into swimming pools, just like you see in the movies. There are
numerous examples in the last few decades of rock bands behaving in this way.  This type of behaviour could be seen to
promote violence because they are smashing guitars off the ground for no reason
and fans, often quite young, are seeing this and may do it themselves thinking
this is reasonable and appropriate behaviour. However surely most people see this as pure theatre and
publicity seeking?

Most people recognize theatre and publicity stunts
and would agree that rock music does not promote violence.  At the end of the day it is just entertainment
and it can be an effective way of processing anger.  A study by the University of Queensland in Australia
concluded that listening to extreme music makes you calmer, not angrier.  The study found that when experiencing anger,
extreme music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger. This
can help them process their anger and help them calm down.

This is also supported by studies that have shown that the youth crime rate has
decreased massively since 1994 even though ever more people are listening to
this type of music. If rock music was causing youth violence, the crime rate
should surely be increasing not decreasing?  It is not fair to say rock music is
promoting violence as fans are drawn to this type of music because they
identify with the lyrics.  People blame
rock music for everything bad in the world and when something terrible happens
like a school shooting they blame rock music because it is an easy target.  In
fact, the reasons are far more complex and can involve breakdowns in
relationships, personal problems such as childhood trauma or financial issues.

I
do not think rock music promotes violence because it is just a song and people
should know the difference between songs and real life. People who choose to
listen to this music normally listen to it because they identify with it and
use it as a coping mechanism or an escape. Also, if
rock music did promote violence then the youth crime rate would have increased
but in fact it has decreased. I
think the issue could be that teens who already have problems with negative
behaviours are drawn to music with negative themes, rather than the other way
around.