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The Media famously stereotypes rock culture by creating unfounded links with suicides, massacres and drug abuse

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The Media famously stereotypes rock culture by creating unfounded links with suicides, massacres and drug abuse

Since the 1960’s the rise in rock culture has become a strong influence over its audience, especially the younger generation. Rock culture today has many positive points about itself, but recently the media have broadcast more of the negative.

This is proven in many circumstances where the media have linked rock culture with suicides, massacres and drug abuse. The media have taken the “negatives” of rock music such as, poor role models and linked them to certain events, where people have committed suicide and caused mass panic. An example of this would be the Columbine school shootings in 1999 and the Virginia Tech Massacre, which I will go into some detail later on.  This has made the general public to easily associate these events with rock culture and even form anti-rock societies, who say that rock music is the “Devils “Advocate”. The media do not broadcast the “positives” of the rock culture, such as giving people a sense of identity and uniting people who have as similar taste in music. Instead because they are not newsworthy subjects and massacres, suicides and drug abuse are, these are not mentioned in their reports.

        It is clearly important to conduct primary and secondary research into this subject, in an attempt to prove my theory that our rock music and rock culture can not be directly blamed for bad occurrences.  In my personal opinion the thoughts and actions of the public can not be influenced through different forms of music unless they are combined with other circumstances, such as domestic problems, bullying, depression etc.

It has been known the rock culture does have an effect on the public of today.

It's Only Rock'n Roll ... But it kills” is a website set up by “Terry Watkins.”  He believes rock music can twist our minds to become deviant without even realising it, through rock stars who are “preaching for the devil”; he has quotes from songs even from Elton John.

“Think I'll buy a forty-four/Give 'em all a surprise/Think I'm gonna kill myself, /Cause a little suicide."

This website also has hundreds of “true” stories in an attempt to prove his theory. Here is an example of just one of the stories posted on his website.  In October 1984, Nineteen-year-old John McCollum shot himself in the head, while listening to Ozzy Osbourne sing "Suicide Solution":

"Evil thoughts and evil doings/Cold, alone, you hang in ruins/Thought that you'd escape the reaper/You can't escape the Master Keeper/ . . . /Where to hide, suicide is the only way out."  He was still wearing the stereo headphones when his body was found!

Even though stories like this are not televised nationally, they seep thought the media in forms of magazines, newspapers and the internet as in this case.

        There are many different stories of suicides that do reach national status, such as the “Bridgend suicides”. This story didn't receive any media attention outside the local area until six months ago when a single news report suggested there were links between the deaths and an internet suicide cult. As the number of young people taking their lives continued to rise, the national and even international media began to sit up and take notice.  At the height of the media attention in February, headlines in the national newspapers were proclaiming Bridgend to be a "Death Town", while TV news crews from all over the world filmed in the streets, portraying the place and its people as desperate. There were also speculations about an internet suicide cult; a website called ‘bebo’ was at the epicentre of this debate.  The mayor of Bridgend ‘Cleone Westwood’ claims that there is no link between these outbursts in suicides. Though over half of the adolescents who took their own life were ‘friends’ on this particular website. Bebo have stated that their website is not to blame for these ‘unfortunate’ occurrences.

 A local member of the Bridgend community gave a quote that gives an outlook into the adolescent life in their town. “If you go into the town centre on a Friday or Saturday night you’ll find that water is more expensive than alcohol. The young people in the community think that it is good to be drunk. Alcohol and drugs fuelled these suicides and facilities for this in Bridgend leave a lot to be desired”.  

Germany, rock capitol of the world has one of the lowest numbers of adolescent suicides in the world; it stands the 31st country in the world in rank of suicide ratings. If this is true, then how can there be a link between the music we listen to and the recent rise in suicides? In my opinion the media broadcast stories like this because they scare the public and that is a hot seller. I also feel that they have no concern for the families affected, even though they do ‘send their condolences’.  Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard (who lost their son Nathaniel) addressed this issue at a press conference at South Wales Police headquarters. Mrs Pritchard said: "We have lost our son and the media reporting of this has made it more unbearable” "We feel that Nathaniel might have thought it was a way of getting attention without fully thinking through the consequences." In conclusion the ‘Asst Chief Constable David Morris’ stated “Holding examples of stories from the tabloid press, he urged reporters to think about how they may be influencing young people.” This conference has again strengthened my theory that music is not to blame for adolescent suicides.

Specialists from Oxford University's department of psychiatry said there was "compelling evidence of increases in suicidal behaviour after the appearance of news reports, fictional drama presentations on television and suicide manuals". "There is clear evidence that reports in the media that give descriptions of the method of suicide and romanticise the deceased by giving descriptions of the attention they receive in the form of condolences and online obituaries give rise to other suicides," said Sue Simkin, coordinator of the centre for suicide research at Oxford. This statement strengthens my theory that music is not to blame for these occurrences, other forms of media play apart as ‘Sue Simkin’ has portrayed.

In my Primary research, it seems that the public agree with my theory as 70% of the people asked stated that they think that the media over exaggerate the stories that are being broadcast mainstream.

In the book “The psychology of Music” Dr Schoen states that, “Music is the most powerful media stimulus known among the perceptive processes”. This theory is similar to what Wilby and Conroy state which is that radio is the greatest form of creating one–on–one relationships with its audience . I feel that the media grasp these theorists’ points of views and radicalise them into something different.

 Charles Manson, who claims inspiration from the Beatles, said that he used music to gain ‘Satanic control’ over his followers who went so far as to commit murder under his command. Art Linkletter blamed “secret messages” in rock music for the death of his daughter in 1969.

Dr Howard Hanson, a director of the famous Easterman School of music said, “Music is made of many ingredients and according to the proportions of these components; it can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarising, IT HAS THE POWERS FOR EVIL AS WELL AS GOOD.

Another example that the media may use to stereotype rock culture with suicide is that some rock stars have committed suicide in the past. The most famous in my mind is the suicide of ‘Kurt Cobain’. He was the lead singer and guitarist in the American band Nirvana. They had a lead single called "Smells Like Teen Spirit” which was from the group's second album ‘Nevermind’  ,released in 1991. Nirvana entered into the mainstream, bringing along with it a subgenre of alternative rock called grunge. As a result, other bands were formed with similar styles of music, alternative rock became the dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States during the early-to-middle 1990s. As Nirvana's front man, Kurt Cobain found himself referred to in the media as the "spokesman of a generation", with Nirvana the "flagship band" of "Generation X”. Cobain was uncomfortable with the attention and placed his focus on the band's music, believing the band's message and artistic vision to have been misinterpreted by the public, challenging the band's audience with its third studio album In Utero.

Following a tour stop at Terminal Eins in Munich, Germany, on March 1, 1994, Cobain was diagnosed with bronchitis and severe laryngitis. He then flew to Rome the next day for medical treatment, and was joined there by his wife ‘Courtney Love’ on March 3. The next morning, his wife awoke to find that Cobain had overdosed on a combination of champagne and Rohypnol. Cobain was then immediately rushed to the hospital, and spent the rest of the day unconscious. After five days in the hospital, Cobain was released and returned to Seattle. Love later stated that the incident was Cobain's first suicide attempt.

A month later his body was found in a room above his garage, he had shot himself in the head with a shotgun, he had been there for three days before they had found him.

The media see this tragic event and link it with the genre of music, and then they stereotype it into rock culture and then try to convince its audience by means of the hypodermic needle theory model.

The media have also tried to stereotype rock culture with massacres as they have linked it with the ‘Columbine Shootings’. This massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School. Two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a massacre, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before committing suicide.

After the massacre took place, the media became confused as to what motivated these teenagers to commit this devastating tragedy. They first believed that they were members of a clique that called themselves the "Trench coat Mafia," a small group of Columbine's "outcasts" who wore heavy black trench coats. Then they grasped onto the idea that they were Neo-Nazi’s who idolised Adolf Hitler, the reason for this was because the attack took place on Hitler’s birthday. This idea was overseen by Robyn Anderson who knew the perpetrators personally and discarded this idea. Another route that the media took was that they both loved the game ‘doom’ and they both stated in their diaries “I would like to put everyone in a super Doom game and see to it that the weak die and the strong live”. After this idea the media decided to blame ‘Marilyn Manson’ because both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold enjoyed his music and carefully listened to the lyrics of his songs.  Harris and Klebold affected U.S. culture in tangible ways. Marilyn Manson dubbed them "The Nobodies" in his song of that name from his 2000 album Holy Wood. Manson echoed the reasons the pair gave for their spree with lines such as "We are the nobodies / wanna be some bodies / we’re dead / we know just who we are.” Manson, who was blamed in the wake of the Columbine massacre by the media, criticised their coverage of the event with the lines "Some children died the other day / we fed machines and then we prayed / you should have seen the ratings that day." Manson is basically trying to say that stories like this create media attention and produce high ratings, which is what and media organisation needs to survive.  He also said later that, if he was given the chance to talk to the two boys, “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." This makes Manson seem like a nice person, though this quote from “Rolling Stone” magazine claims that Manson has a lifelong dream of meeting with Satan. “My mom used to tell me when I was a kid, ‘If you curse at nighttimes the devil’s going to come to you when you’re sleeping.’ I used to get excited because I really wanted it to happen . . . I wanted it. I wanted it more than anything” Quotes like this fuel the media’s hate for Manson style of music and therefore use it against him.

There was controversy over whether the perpetrators should be memorialised. Some were opposed, saying that it glorified murderers, while others argued that the perpetrators themselves were victims, too. Crosses were created for Harris and Klebold,but the father of victim Daniel Rohrbough cut them down, saying that murderers should not be memorialised in the same place as victims.

Personally I feel that rock culture is not to blame as most people listen to rock music in today’s world. This has been proven in my primary research methods, where 65% of the people asked said that they prefer rock music to any other genre of music. This slightly strengthens my theory as not everyone commits mass terrorism and suicides solely based on what they listen too. The reason why the media do not like artists like ‘Marilyn Manson’ is because I feel that they group all forms of rock music and  radicalise them into a much darker form of rock such as ‘death metal’ etc. This form of stereotypical thinking starts in school, were pupils are divided into groups by the music the listen too.

 The media try to persuade the audience to believe in the hypodermic needle theory model, so that the audience will watch the news more to gain ‘knowledge’ into other aspects of life.

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