A short while ago I attended a talk by Jeffrey S. Podoshen, PhD, a marketing professor at Franklin and Marshall College, PA. He spoke on the recent surge in the consumption of evil, death and dystopia.
Podoshen argues that because of the profound disconnect people are now experiencing, such as being caught for hours in traffic jams and spending more and more time on computers, this isolation has led to an increase in the desire for violent experiences. Of course, the length of the current US war in the mideast — the longest in their history, is not helping; the spectacle of violence may have become the new norm. Podoshen’s discussion focussed on three examples of extreme consumer experiences: the Inferno Music Festival in Lausanne, Switzerland and Oslo, Norway, the Charles Manson “Helter Skelter Tour” in LA, and the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. By far, he spent the most time discussing Black Metal, the music driving the Inferno Music Festival.
Above on the right is one of Black Metal’s leading forces. The gothic influence is evident, although gothic horror would probably be a more appropriate moniker, as blood is often part of their performance. The photo was taken on a charming side-street in Oslo. The contrast to the proper white middle class is obviously deliberate with Black Metal representing the return of the repressed. Black Metal are almost anti-everything and have even offended neo-nazis with their anti-Christian stance and ritual church burnings. Black Metal is neo-pagan; they stand for the renaissance of Norse mythology. They view the church as an intrusion as some quaint Norwegian churches were built on pagan sites. Black Metal are nationalists, so of course they are anti-immigration.
Although I had never heard of Black Metal, this is no obscure trend. In terms of marketing, Black Metal is the number one export of Norway. They have a substantial following. When the Infernal Music Festival hits town, Oslo closes up for a week. I guess those who can leave; others probably hide in their homes while all hell quite literally breaks loose. And we were shocked by the Anders Breivik massacre? Really, we just weren’t paying attention.
Podoshen also commented on the general feeling that we (westerners) now expect something bad to happen. From his American perspective, he sees that socialism has failed and that now capitalism is failing, leaving nothing to believe in. Consumerism itself seems to be at the root of the problem, encouraging some (presumably those with money) to imagine they can safely buy an extreme experience — something to fill the void we have been left with.
The talk then turned to the renewed interest in Charles Manson, who is now the 2nd most famous murderer after Jack the Ripper. There is now a Manson “Helter Skelter” tour in LA in which you can retrace the steps leading up to the blood bath. It lasts 3 hours and is apparently a big hit. A video of the tour is available on CNN.
Podoshen then talked about the Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger who created the special effects and monster for Ridley Scott’s Alien. Although Giger died last year, there is a film about him that has just been released entitled Dark Star: H.R Giger’s World. I don’t know if I could bear it. Below is a sample of Giger wallpaper. Even video games are now becoming darker.
The fascination with death is evident. The dark message in Alien also seems to be becoming a reality: kill to live.
We may be driven to kill each other because of overpopulation. Podoshen recommends learning how to farm.