May 19, 2008

VERSUS THE MEDIA

I wrote my english term paper on MCR-- entitled My Chemical Romance vs. The Media. It's about five pages long in word, so some of it is under a cut.


My Chemical Romance vs. The Media

One only has to visit the website of My Chemical Romance to see how they glorify and promote killing people.” (Mothers Against Hard Rock) “You can wear any color you like so long as it's black.” (Sands) “Stop this abhorrent emo cult.” (Whitehouse) “The music is about pain, agony, and dying.” (CBS Emo Investigation) "It's like ventriloquists' music. It's weird and dark. They don't have anything positive to say …These emo kids should get out more and try and have a good time instead." (Meighan)

Dangerous. Cult. Dark. These are words used to describe the New Jersey based band, My Chemical Romance [sometimes known as MCR or My Chem (Hadyn, 4)]. Reporters in need of stories claim ‘Warning every parent should know, later at eleven!’ The media claims My Chemical Romance is a cult, a band fixated on death, a place to flaunt old wounds and make new ones.

“I am serious when I say that I wouldn't be able to face another day without their music.” (Stefanie) “This tabloid junk about how My Chemical Romance is causing "emo" acts and depression is just unbelievable.” (Estell) “The band's five members make unlikely candidates for leadership of a Dangerous Teen Cult.” (Petridis) “Only thing that would stop me from committing suicide was MCR.” (Rosanna) “Whatever happens I am not going to be alone. I will always find My Chemical Romance next to me.” (Tzortzis) "My Chemical Romance saves lives and if someone pays so much attention to jobs and 'important people' that they don't see what's really going on in their kids/friends/anyone’s life, they don't deserve to even have a proper opinion." (Anon.)

Yet there are those who stand up for the quintet, declaring that My Chemical Romance is a hopeful band, one whose lyrics and message has helped them “keep on living”. (Famous Last Words). It is those people who are wondering, is something as simple as music tastes going to be a battle they have to fight?
With all this buzz about this ‘dangerous’ band, one has to ask themselves, are these fears actually founded? Is My Chemical Romance a scary band?

They may sing things like, “They gave us two shots to the back of the head/And we're all dead now.” (I Never Told You What I Do For A Living) or "Because they sleep with a gun/And keep an eye on you, son/So they can watch all the things you do.” (Teenagers) But if you look deeper into the songs, and listen to more than just that so-called scary verse, you’ll hear the real life stories poured into every song, not just a verse or two that might seem controversial. I Never Told You What I Do For A Living is a song about two lovers being reunited after death. Teenagers is an over-the-top song about “kids being viewed as meat; by the government and by society.” (Gerard Way, qtd. in Kerrang!)

In spite of how one can misconstrue a few lyrics here and there, there is no misconstruing the mass of what My Chemical Romance stands for. “Everyone should love themselves. Like I love you all.” (Way) “Just think happy thoughts/And we’ll fly home.” (Headfirst for Halos) “Be Yourself, don't take anyone's shit and never let them take you alive.” (Way)

Despite any swear words or death references, the songs actually give out a message. My Chemical Romance has always been a band devoted to helping the
teenagers of today, the people they call the “post 9-11 generation.” (Way, Life on the Murder Scene) My Chemical Romance gives this generation someone to look up to, someone to look at and say, “Whatever happens, I am not going to be alone.” (Tzortzis)

Worried parents and overzealous journalist see in My Chemical Romance a danger. They assume the worst when hearing a line referencing suicide or drugs, and refuse to note the rest of the song or the message behind it, instead declaring that they are the martyrs who must save the children from themselves. “Before anyone gets upset, MAHR [Mothers Against Hard Rock] is not opposed to all music; they only want to stop music that has a negative affect on kids.”(MAHR) Instead of opening their mind to the fact that the real message of My Chemical Romances is that life happens, and to learn and grow from it, they spread around their misinformation. The media is raising a generation that can play video games with killing and violence, teaching them that everything can be solved by picking up a weapon, but that same generation that’s watching the carnage has to be rescued from a band that has the audacity to say “cheap whiskey” (Vampires Will Never Hurt You) in a song.

The purpose of My Chemical Romance has always been to be a “band that saves lives,” to say “it’s okay to be messed up,” and that “you should never want to hurt yourself; you should love yourself.” (Life on the Murder Scene) So when the UK based online newspaper, The Daily Mail, published an article entitled Emo Cult Warning For Parents, and claimed that My Chemical Romance was causing kids to self-harm, front man Gerard Way was less than pleased.

“That [Emo Cult Warning For Parents] was a very negative article written about the band and the band's fans and it was completely ignorant. It was unfounded; there was no factual information at all. We do not promote self harm but we encourage kids to find other ways to get out their frustrations... My objective that day was to get that across, pretty much to the whole country, that that's not what we represent. We represent the exact opposite.” (Way qtd. in NME Magazine)


Without skirting around the issue, Way bluntly said, “We represent the exact opposite.” Anyone who allegedly boasted in their lyrics about wanting teenagers to harm themselves would never flatly say how their band is opposed to that behavior. Way even rebutted the idea that they are promoting self harm in their lyrics.
"If you've been a fan of the band for a long time, you know we've always talked about suicide, depression, things of that nature. And we've always told you that if things feel so desperate, and you're so hurt you're so depressed, you find some person that you trust to talk to. That's something we've always said. But what we're going to say to you today is, that if you find yourself depressed, hurt, like an outcast, like the only kind of place you could ever fit in is in a show like this, that's not the case. 'Cause even though we're all outcasts in our own way we all belong to this world and we all fit in to this world. Do you understand me? We all have something to say, but you never ever say it with violence."

Even outside of interviews, when only addressing the fans, My Chemical Romance is ardently anti-harm.

"I don't give a shit what happened to you. I don't care if your girlfriend left you, your boyfriend dumped you, you lost your job, you can't get to the stupid f**king show! There’s always going to be other shows, man, there’s always other shows. There is nothing worth taking your life over! Nothing at all. Call your mom, call your best friend or dial 1800SUICIDE." (Concert in Baltimore, 7/02/07)

If My Chemical Romance really was encouraging violence and suicide in their lyrics, wouldn’t those words, shouted out to their fans one night in Baltimore, seem contradictory? Even when there is no interviewer around, they still keep up the same message of hope and recovery, which proves My Chemical Romance is not a cult band, dedicated to making your children kill others and themselves.

My Chemical Romance may seem controversial, but they sing about things that matter, and they always have encouraged their fans to “keep on living”. (Famous Last Words) My Chemical Romance is not here to harm your children, to encourage suicide, or to brainwash the masses. Their message has always been simple and the same for years: "This is definitely a band that wants to save your life.” (Iero)


***

Works Cited

"Support the Mothers Against Hard Rock Foundation (MAHR)." Veggieboards. 5 Sept. 2006.
13 Apr. 2008


Sands, Sarah. "EMO Cult Warning for Parents." Daily Mail 16 Aug. 2006. 
13 Apr. 2008 .

Way, Gerard A. Interview with Mike Diver. Drowned in Sound. 13 Apr. 2008 

Whitehouse, Mary. "Stop This Abhorrent EMO Cult." Music Towers. 18 Sept. 2006. 13 Apr. 
2008

Way, Gerard A. Interview with Alexis Petridis. Guardian. 27 Oct. 2006. 13 Apr. 2008 

"Investigators." Investigators: Emo Music. CBS. KGPE. 6 Aug. 2007. 13 Apr. 2008 

Meighan, Tom. Interview. Pedigree Music. 15 Oct. 2006. 13 Apr. 2008 

"Stefanie's Side of the Story." My Living Romance (2007). 13 Apr. 2008 

Rosanna. "Rosanna's Side of the Story." 3 Nov. 2007. My Living Romance. 2007. 

Haydn, Reinhardt. My Chemical Romance: This Band Will Save Your Life. Plexus, 2008. 4.

"I Never Told You What I Do for a Living." Song Facts. 13 Apr. 2008 

"Teenagers." Song Facts. 13 Apr. 2008 

"I Never Told You What I Do for a Living." Song Facts. 13 Apr. 2008 
< http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4676>

"My Chemical Romance." Las Vegas Sun. 31 Mar. 2008. 13 Apr. 2008 
< http://www.lasvegassun.com/events/2008/mar/31/733/>

Estell. "Estell's Side of the Story." 3 Nov. 2007. My Living Romance, 2007. 

Tzortzis, Joanna. “Joanna’s Side of the Story.” 6 June 2007. My Living Romance, 2007. 

Way, Gerard A. NME 16 Sept. 2006.

“MCRmy.” MCRmy. 13 Apr. 2008 

“Vampires Will Never Hurt You.” P Lyrics. 13 Apr. 2008 

"Famous Last Words." P Lyrics. 13 Apr. 2008 

"Headfirst for Halos." P Lyrics. 13 Apr. 2008 

Life on the Murder Scene. Perf. My Chemical Romance. DVD. Reprise, 2006.