Monday, May 31, 2010
James XHetfieldX and being born again Straight Edge
I've been Straight Edge for twenty years. When I became Edge Tallica were touring for “And justice for all” with a new bass player. Gorilla Biscuits was still a band, and no one had ever heard of Bill Clinton outside of Arkansas. I don't say that to pat myself on the back, just to point out I've been around. I know something about Straight Edge.
Let me take a moment to explain what Straight Edge means to me. I am 100% drug, alcohol free and believe in sobriety as a political statement. It doesn't matter if you the reader or I the writer of this piece can be responsible while under the influence of mind altering product. There are millions who cannot. There is a world wide culture of consumption that requires more than just sobriety it requires individuals who live as examples of drug-free living. The drug culture and the alcohol and narco industrial complexs will only end if the demand ends one personal boycott at time. "One plus one is how it's won" the insted quote Karl from Earth Crisis reminded me of when they played in Portland last month.
When I first read that James Hetfield was edge - the front man of metallica who posed with jagermeister bottles with a version of the band's logo saying Alchollica painted over their heads was disbelief. Sure I knew he had been battling drugs and alcohol since he made the decision to have a family so I guess a dude who spent 20 years connecting drug and alcohol consumption to his macho metal lifestyle would need something like straight edge to latch on too.
I am a fan of Hetfield's work through “and justice for all” and owe a lot of my development as a free thinking young man to Tallica. I don't however have a lot of respect for Hetfield as a person. In a lot of behind the scenes videos over the years he howled while drunk, rode giant motorcyles, talked about being a sport hunter. In Metallica's strange documentary “Some kind of Monster” where we sat in with the band's counseling sessions Hetfield's macho-ness reached an all time low. In one scene when the band is supposed to be working on their album Hetfield takes off on a hunting trip to Siberia. Now, I think anyone who gets excitement and entertainment off of shooting innocent animals in the is a sicko but shooting hibernating bears is a whole different thing.
That is what he did. He shot sleeping bears. And they talked about how disgusting the meat is because they hibernating. What an asshole? Anyways Hetfield has a lot of issues to work through to do with his manhood. I am afraid that straight edge is nothing more than a macho stand-in for his tough guy imagine. How can Hetfield be drug free and maintain his man's man imagine? Straight edge maybe...
Certainly in the scene we have seen our share of tough guys co-opting straight edge. In crews like monster and courage crew, I once watched the courage crew beat-up a metal dude in pot leaf pantera shirt. His crime was the shirt in their eyes. Where do most of those guys end up. At the bar drinking with faded straight edge tattoos. Because when the popularity of edge dies out and macho social pressure to drink takes hold it's a harder they fall kinda thing.
Straight edge as an excuse to be macho and think your tougher and stronger than others fails all the time. I would hope Hetfield is not using Straight edge as another crutch. It's about thinking clearly and committing to that strength of mind.
Maybe Straight Edge can help him see clearly. That is what it is all about. The idea is simple it gives me an edge to be sober. I don't like to think it give me an edge over others because we are all born with thousand variables that make up or skills or take away ability. Being straight edge gives me an edge over the version of my myself who could use drugs and alcohol.
We are each our own universe, and I think it's rad that Hetfield has found straight edge. He obviously used drugs as a crutch for many years. If the label gives him strength to resist and he is dedicated to it then by all means he is straight edge. I have taken an oath to myself to never betray the promise to myself that is straight edge. That may sound corny on the outside but I have watched entire generations latch on to straight edge when it was cool, or it fit that moment in their lives.
I'll respect Hetfield's edge as long as he respect's mine. What I mean is it's more than a title at this point. It's more than a song by some DC band. It's another wedding ring for your finger and if you respect those who came before you'll see it's a lifetime commitment.
One thing is for sure Hetfield is being a better role model for his fans now, devoting time to his family and being drug-free, and honestly if he X'd up and played Master of puppets, we'll that is something that would be cool to see.