July 31, 2007

This may come as a surprise to some, but probably my favourite TV show of all time, and the one that I am once again totally obsessed with and watching night and day, is a brutally violent, obscene, offensive prison drama called “Oz.” It may also surprise some to know that one of my favourite albums of all time is by a band named Rage Against the Machine. Sure, I’m known these days for my sucky love songs & folk music, but every once in a while, I put on a brutal episode of Oz, or the debut by Rage Against the Machine and I go nuts.

For the uninformed, Rage Against the Machine is really loud, and really angry. They burst onto the scene in 1992 with their debut that mixed heavy metal style guitars with rap-style spoken word, and a whole lot of anger and yelling. This band, and others who are loud and angry, are often associated with angry, disenfranchised people. There’s a stereotype of what someone who’s angry and disenfranchised looks like and acts like, but stereotypes are not always right. There’s usually some truth, and I suppose some element of the stereotype rings true, but rarely is it that simple.

You see, although to many I seem to be pretty easy going and happy, there are times when I, too, am angry and disenfranchised. But really, who isn’t like that sometimes. There are times when I want to be angry and jump up and down and yell. But I decided a long time ago that anger didn’t really have a positive place in my life. For me, anger could be rather consuming and controlling. It has the potential to destroy good things, and get in the way of happiness. For some, anger is a positive outlet and an important, therapeutic emotion. For me, it’s more destructive. I have a lot I could be angry about, but I choose not to.

  • Should I be angry at the father who never showed me any love or interest?
  • Should I be angry because I grew up poor?
  • Should I be angry because of a family history of alcoholism, which affects many?
  • Should I be angry because cancer hurt so many people I love?
  • Should I be angry about all of the schoolyard bullies who told me that I was a loser?
  • Should I be angry at the teachers who concentrated on my mistakes and shortcomings instead of my talents?
  • Should I be angry at the society that told me that where & how I grew up would limit what I could do with my life?
  • Should I be angry that society has this unrealistic image of love & relationships that just isn’t possible?
  • Should I be angry at all of the signs that tell me that I should be happy, when I’m not?
  • Should I be angry that wars & disease & senseless bullshit hurt innocent people?
  • Should I be angry that our planet is dying and there’s not much we can (or perhaps will) do about it?
  • Should I be angry at a school system that I believe in, yet is so flawed and hurtful?

Should I be angry about any of these things, or more? Well, yeah, I guess I could. I have every right to be angry and disenfranchised because of these or a dozen other reasons. But really, what good would that do? Would it make death or pain or disease or hurtful people go away? Would it change anything? Would it make me happier to be angry about things that I can’t change?

For me, the answer is a resounding no. I won’t let anger control me. I won’t be controlled by things that I can’t understand or change. But you better believe that every once in a while, I’m going to put on Oz and love it when a bad guy gets the tar kicked out of him, or killed in a gruesome way. And somehow, I do love to yell along with Rage Against the Machine.

Does this make me an angry, disenfranchised person? Does this make me dangerous? Frightening? Nah, I’m still the same old goody goody who hates to do anything wrong or upset anybody, instead, enjoying the anger and the release of others helps me to avoid losing control myself. I accept the world, and the system for what they are, and I’m not one to start a revolution or encourage chaos, but I’m glad that there are people out there who do have revolutionary and chaotic tendencies. I don’t necessarily agree with them, and I don’t necessarily want to join in, but just allowing myself to be a part of their anger and their passion is a bit of a release for me. And that’s why I understand kids who turn to angry music, video games, or movies as forms of entertainment, and I encourage them to do so. I know that in society today, the power of these things has been taken away and they’ve become too commonplace, but I think they do have value and they are important.

I think there’d be less true anger and violence in the world if people would learn to use music & entertainment to release the anger & violence that I believe lurks within all of us. I think it’s the people who aren’t encouraged to yell & scream & jump up and down are the ones who end up doing it for real.

I guess for the most part I’ll stick with the sappy love songs & folk music, and I’ll try to dwell on happier, more productive things, things that I can control or do something about, but every once in a while, I need my Rage. I hope you do too.


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