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Chokehold, A389 Recordings, and Social Complacency in Hardcore

Discussion in 'General political debates' started by punkmar77, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. punkmar77

    punkmar77Experienced Member Uploader Experienced member




    Nov 13, 2009
     United States
    http://www.therainbowhub.com/chokehold- ... -hardcore/

    Chokehold, A389 Recordings, and Social Complacency in Hardcore
    Published on July 26, 2015 in Emory Lorde/Media/Music by Emory Lorde

    (Editor’s Note: This article contains instances of casual racism, transmisogyny, and violence.)

    As members of the early ’90s Vegan-Straight Edge hardcore scene, Canadian metallic hardcore band Chokehold were known for their progressive political stance in the face of the conservative Hardline movement which paralleled there rise. Chokehold would cover such topics as homophobia and pro-choice rights in their music along with an obligatory animal rights and anti-drug message. Formed in 1990, they managed to make a significant impact on the hardcore scene of their era before breaking up in 1996.

    Nearly 20 years later, the group began a reunion tour in July in preparation for their appearance at This Is Hardcore, an annual festival held in Philadelphia. On July 18th, Chokehold played a show in Toronto, Ontario where guitarist Jeff Beckman showed just how time can reveal people’s true nature. While giving stage-banter before their anti-police violence song “Conditioned”, Beckman went on a rant about the Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter narratives, disappointingly taking his stance in the latter camp. This would spurn a young trans-woman in attendance named Sadie, of the Toronto-based punk outfit Triage, to vocalize her disagreement with his ham-fisted statements. Beckman’s alleged response to being called out on his political tone-deafness was to (or at least attempt to) punch the woman in the face before threatening to kill her, mis-gendering her all the while in front of a crowd of spectators, and completely missing the tragic irony of playing an anti-cop brutality song to follow up the exchange.

    Skip to the 3:45 mark for the beginning of Beckman’s rant, with the following altercation:


    Rough Transcript:

    Beckman: “Pigs take advantage of their authority and their power. And it’s not just with Black people. It’s not just Black lives matter. There was fucking three slayings in Hamilton alone last year at the hands of the police, on White people. So it’s not just a fucking racial thing. This is everywhere.”
    Sadie: “Cool racist shit, grandpa!”
    Beckman: “What? You’re calling me a racist?”
    Sadie: “Yes, I’m saying police violence disproportionately targets Black communities.”
    Beckman: [laughs] “It targets every community. I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying to me motherfucker.”

    Sadie: “Okay.”
    Beckman: “Okay, what?”
    Sadie: “Okay I’m saying you’re voicing off some White supremacist shit.”
    Beckman: “I’m saying some white supremacist shit?! What the fuck are you talking about.”
    Sadie: “Because you’re minimalizing the impact of police violence on Black communities. That’s fucking racist.”
    Beckman: “Who the fuck are you talking to?”
    Sadie: “I’m not saying you’re a horrible person, but–“
    Beckman: [interrupts] “I’m saying this isn’t an issue of White or Black. This is an issue of fucking pigs. [referring to the woman] And if that dude comes in again I’ll fucking kill him.”

    Amid the crowds random chanting of “ACAB” (All cops are bastards), a physical rustling is clearly audible, and the crowd’s reaction seems to confirm what eyewitness reports across social media have claimed, not to mention the admission in a post-show interview with vocalist Chris Logan. The story broke on social media almost immediately, and would cause enough ruckus for the band’s current reissue label, A389 Recordings, to speak up in defense of the band with an equal lack of self-awareness and willfully ignorant rhetoric.

    Both of the instances have given several other bands and fans an excuse to come to the defense of Beckman’s actions, and in all cases, high-lighting just how out of touch the supposedly ‘socially accepting, political aware‘ hardcore scene really is. Beckman’s (and by extension, the A389 spokesperson’s) inability to grasp the concept that police brutality and violence disproportionally targets the Black community, and their redundant insistence that “white people are also affected”, points out the innate, self-centered ignorance of the hardcore punk community.

    Beckman could have just as easily made his point about police brutality and raised awareness about the killings in their native Hamilton without undermining the message behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead, he chose to specifically target it in order to make his point, as if race was a factor in the Hamilton police killings, and devaluing the instances where race does play a major role in police violence.

    A389 Recordings and other defenders of Beckman’s actions would go on to insist that ‘because Beckman didn’t know the person he was attacking was a woman, he can’t be held liable for being a woman-beater’, which is digging their hole unnecessarily deeper within this entire fiasco. As if Beckman’s words and actions weren’t already clear instances of casual, transphobic micro-aggressions and outright violence against a trans woman, the argument made by A389’s spokesperson to absolve him of sin is a textbook example of blatant ignorance and transmisogyny.

    The logical conclusion of their reasoning being “if the woman doesn’t pass to her assaulter, then the man can’t be blamed for attacking her as if she were a man”. A389’s spokesperson then attempts to deny the existence of racism or transphobia in the instance, as if they are somehow an authority on what constitutes the definition of either, being a label with a staff and roster mostly composed of cisgendered, heterosexual, white men. A389 Recordings and the rest of Chokehold’s supporters are more interested in protecting the band’s reputation, and by extension, their own reputation through denial, rather than accepting the clear truth of the situation, addressing it for what it is, and handling it with a modicum of professional grace.

    I highly doubt that anyone was even willing to hold the label liable for a single member of a band’s actions, but they still decided to open their mouths and promptly cram their foot ankle-deep into their drooling maw. They went from simple guilt by association, to a worse place than before they said anything. They just couldn’t keep their mouth shut and let the internet serve it’s cold, ineffectual justice. It’s very similar to how Beckman and Chokehold themselves dusted off their sterling reputation as a band, dragged it out of storage, and promptly defecated on their own image in front of a packed house.

    There is a wide cognitive disconnect between the values these bands and labels represent versus the actual, real-world struggles experienced by the actively-victimized people they are supposedly speaking in defense of. It is telling of an artist’s character when they can’t express their concern over a social issue without casually devaluing the struggles experienced by people different from themselves. It is also telling of Beckman’s character that he, given his age, couldn’t stand to have his views challenged without resorting to violence against the person who challenged them.

    Looking at a typical photograph taken at a hardcore show, and given my own personal experiences over the years in the scene, I can’t say I’m surprised by this sort of behavior. Despite the fact that hardcore was pretty much founded by a collection of multi-ethnic, working class kids, it has steadily, if not rapidly, evolved into a fraternity for the comfortably middle-class who weren’t cut out for college. Look no further than to the existence of violent, letterman jacket adorned “crews” such as the criminally-assosciated FSU (‘Friends Stand United’, or alternatively, ‘Fuck Shit Up’) for evidence of this trend.

    Even in it’s earliest days, hardcore punk was created by women and people of color, since the time of Kira Roessler in Black Flag and D.H. Peligro in Dead Kennedys. However, it has also always been a rather typical population cross-section in terms of representation, and while spouting an all-inclusive message, it has unfortunately been defaulted to straight, white, cis-men like so many other aspects of popular culture and the counterculture. Due to this, the scene all too often acts as a stage for cis-het suburbanites with a chip on their shoulder to temporarily rebel, or voice their own personal disenchantment with the world.

    Counter examples are abound, and the scene is more diverse today than it has ever been, but as far as the consumption and popularity of these acts are concerned, it’s still a relative uphill battle. We can’t expect any of this to improve should issues of inclusivity and basic social awareness still plague the scene at it’s entry level. Hardcore wishes to represent itself as a haven for societal outcasts, but often puts up barriers to anyone who would genuinely fall into that category unless they are white, male, and willing to follow the herd. Chokehold went on to headline the $80/per-ticket This Is Hardcore fest (founded by former FSU affiliate and problematic show organizer, Joe Hardcore), and they are still garnering defense from their label, as well as many other prominent bands in the current scene.

    Many of Chokehold’s supporters are attempting to hash all the accusations up to the “PC police and social justice warriors taking things too far and out of context”, which is another instance of tragic irony, considering that the band being defended fashion themselves as patently political and socially progressive. To so many people in the hardcore community, the personal lifestyle choices of veganism and straight edge are more important subjects than the social issues which affect other people, which is to say, what effects them individually matters more than what effects other people. This is at the heart of the self-centeredness that inspire things like Beckman’s dismissal of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    “If it doesn’t effect me, then why should I care?”

    How can anyone respect the messages being spewed by these bands in the face of these blunders? It goes beyond situational hypocrisy, this is an instance of people refusing to own up to their mistakes, and willfully maintaining their own ignorant stance in order to save themselves from apologizing, and therefore, admitting to wrong-doing. So many musicians in the hardcore scene want to represent themselves as authentically angry at the ills of mainstream society, but continue to uphold the same status-quo in a scene based around dismantling it. It’s pure complacency.

    This is far from the first or most scandalous case of dip-shit-idness to happen in hardcore, but if it insists on continuing to advertise itself as a safe space for people from all walks of life, then behavior such as Beckman’s and A389’s is going to have to be snuffed out, or at the very least, educated out of existence. This isn’t about being a ‘poser’, and it goes beyond simple ‘musical criticism’, but rather the appropriation of progressive politics by groups that would fly it as a flag for the sake of scene credibility while missing the point entirely. People like Beckman want to believe they’re taking an opposing stance in the war against society’s woes, but as another admittedly problematic band once said, “you’re one of them.