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July 11, 2011 4:36 AM   Subscribe

In 1989, Eric Holmberg and The Apologetics Group/Reel to Real Ministries released "Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll"

Written and narrated by Mr. Holmberg, the film reveals the Satanic messages hidden in the lyrics of popular songs through backmasking.

Part 1::2::3::4::5::6::7::8::9::10::11::12::13::14::15::16::17::18
posted by dubold (58 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The dangers of rock and roll are:

Gettin' robbed
Gettin' stoned
Gettin' beat up
Broken boned
Gettin' had
Gettin' took
I tell you folks
It's harder than it looks

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll
It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll
If you think it's easy doin' one night stands
Try playin' in a rock roll band
It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll

Hotel motel
Make you wanna cry
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin' old
Gettin' grey
Gettin' ripped off
Under-paid
Gettin' sold
Second hand
posted by Ironmouth at 4:56 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part 2: The Root of Rock: From whence did this new musical form spring...and gets its power?


This is almost as good as 'how is babby formed'.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:02 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dropped on part 9 at random. Articulate.
posted by Leon at 5:03 AM on July 11, 2011


Why is it always rock & roll that's supposed to be demonic? You'd think that the Dark One would be shrewd enought to branch out to reach more people and put evil messages in rap, country and polka records, too.
posted by jonmc at 5:07 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


jonmc: if you watch the videos, you'll find that Whitney Houston's lyrics are also satanic. Not sure whether they consider her to be rock or not.
posted by dubold at 5:10 AM on July 11, 2011




I'll take my evil straight up from the likes of slayer. Hiding it with back masking is weak. I also prefer my musical evil from the source, ratrher than watered down through humans, which is why I prefer heavy metal to rap
posted by Redhush at 5:26 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm reasonably sure that Satan's going to end up being super into Smashmouth and Live and Collective Soul and have a huge collection of CDs with "Manufactured by Columbia House under license" printed on them in tiny, tiny type.
posted by mintcake! at 5:45 AM on July 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rock n Roll is a diversion from the truth. Everyone knows Satan IS Taylor Swift.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:49 AM on July 11, 2011


Hmm. Someone was inspired by the post immediately below this one...
posted by item at 6:14 AM on July 11, 2011


Was this really in '89? I remember these people from '81 and '82. I especially enjoyed being told that 4/4 time was satanic.

I especially love to watch these folks deal with the song War Pigs and its message of "Welcome to the Inferno. Sowers of discord, table for eight? Right this way gentlemen."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:15 AM on July 11, 2011


I'd be a lot more impressed this documentary focused on smooth jazz.
posted by dortmunder at 6:16 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related: The Agony Booth recaps "Rock: It's Your Decision" (1982).
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:22 AM on July 11, 2011


I maintain an ongoing interest in the West Memphis Three case, where demonizing rock (among other things) landed three in prison. This is from an editorial in the West Memphis paper, circa 1988 (well before the crimes).

Garbage music should be banned from community.

It wasn't too many years ago when parents were vitally concerned over their children listening to "hard rock" music that, when played backwards, was believed to reveal satanic messages.

Then came the so-called "drug music" or "acid rock" commonly associated with groups known for drug use.

Now, it seems, we have to worry about so-called music referred to as "rapping" which, when listened to, is really not music at all, but fast talk that includes explicit lyrics glorifying rape, homosexuality, drugs and yes, even violent crime such as murder.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:31 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is funny looking back at these, but fearmongering about this and things exactly like it at our church directly harmed my childhood, a fact that infuriates me whenever I care to think about it.
posted by JHarris at 6:33 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's also interesting how this kind of stuff just moves unchanged for decades through our cultural digestive tract. Change some word choice and it could fit in the 70s, 50s, 30s and back to when waltzing was going to destroy womanhood.
posted by The Whelk at 6:44 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Remember when they said that the jitterbug was gonna turn us all into dope fiends?"

-Red Wiggler guy on WKRP in Cincinatti
posted by jonmc at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, hey Remember CAP alert? The movie review site that took obsessive detail in how every American movie was in fact a massive indoctrination program into a life of sin? Sarah Vowell said that there was something sweet and compelling about the site because it assumed that movies could actually change someone's behavior. It's such a huge, ridiculous belief in the power of fiction. Kind of like the attraction of conspiracy theories cause they all rest on the assumption that someone is in control and it all makes sense.
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


*plays Slayer record backwards, move to Long Island, buys riding lawn mower, becomes church elder*
posted by jonmc at 6:52 AM on July 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


becomes church elder

Is that a sly Kiss reference? Nice.

Also, hey Remember CAP alert?

Hell yes. That was some sweet, sweet early animated GIF-style crazy right there.
posted by mintcake! at 6:56 AM on July 11, 2011


Thanks, jonmc, now I've got the damn Red Wigglers jingle in my head . . .

Rehhhhd Wigglers, the Cadillac of Worms - the . . . Cadillac of worms - the . . . Cadillac of worms . . .
posted by gompa at 6:58 AM on July 11, 2011


I remember watching this in Christian Club in high school! It was hard not to laugh. I suppose I wasn't a very good Christian Club member :-D
posted by Calzephyr at 7:15 AM on July 11, 2011


...but fast talk that includes explicit lyrics glorifying ... homosexuality...

I really, really wish the writer of that piece, rather than pulling "facts" about rap out of the ether, got a hold of some really underground gay gangsta rap that hasn't seen the light of day since '88.
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is almost as good as 'how is babby formed'.

It's almost worse. It's so bad I'm not sure it's even funny.

"Remember when they said that the jitterbug was gonna turn us all into dope fiends?"

Hoodlum Rock
posted by mrgrimm at 7:54 AM on July 11, 2011


I believed this when I was in church school. I was afraid of demons. I was afraid of Satan. I was afraid that if I didn't love Jesus enough, I'd never go to heaven. I was so afraid.
posted by cereselle at 8:15 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rehhhhd Wigglers, the Cadillac of Worms - the . . . Cadillac of worms - the . . . Cadillac of worms . . .

Dude, I am the proud owner of a Red Wigglers t-shirt.
posted by jonmc at 8:18 AM on July 11, 2011


We had a copy of this video laying around our place in the mid 90s that one of our friends stole from his evangelical mom. We'd bust it out at 3 a.m. after we got home from the bars and it never failed to achieve laughs. My favorite scene is where Holmberg 'proves' the physical dangers of rock 'n roll by placing an egg in front of an amplifier. Also, his infuriatingly inaccurate claims about a multitude of well-known historical / cultural movements, from the birth of communism to the gay rights movement, is a sort of working microcosm for the religious right's gross and pervasive ignorance. Thanks for bringing back the memories!
posted by tiger yang at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2011


My favorite scene is where Holmberg 'proves' the physical dangers of rock 'n roll by placing an egg in front of an amplifier.

I once read an interview with Ted Nugent where he claims that a pigeon flew into his amp stack at a show and disintegrated.

I wonder which came first.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on July 11, 2011


Somebody should do a video mashup of this with Heavy Metal Parking Lot.
posted by jonmc at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2011


I've seen this before, and I sincerely love it. All rock fans should watch it because it does put a lot of thought into music's moral component--from Plato and so on. Honestly, it did convince me that rock is the Devil's music. I just don't believe in the dude, and think the result is actually more of a purging of evil rather than a purveyance. Also they make it clear that they don't want the government to regulate music, just for people to run in terror I guess.

Finally, man, remember when Hard Rock was huge? What has western culture lost or gained by trading Judas Priest for Katy Perry?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 AM on July 11, 2011


Finally, man, remember when Hard Rock was huge? What has western culture lost or gained by trading Judas Priest for Katy Perry?

Hard Rock still fills stadiums all the time. Katy Perry sucks.
posted by jonmc at 9:35 AM on July 11, 2011


You mean like Bon Jovi, Poison and Winger combo tours for old folks? Sure, maybe, but not a lot of bright spots in that future bro. Hard rock is no longer relevant. Believe me I think I'm sadder about it than you are, and I hope I'm wrong. But things can go away, and I think groups of distorted guitars are on their way out (cue Revolution #9).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:50 AM on July 11, 2011


Kid Charlemagne, this whole "devil's music" meme gathered steam throughout the 80's. THere were certainly TV preachers playing Led Zep backwards in 81 and 82, but this guy is much,. much slicker and smarter.

Still, having let this play through in the background as I worked, I think Holmberg is not the buffoon you guys think he is.

Not to be Donnie Downer here, but I don't actually think this specific guy with this specific film is all that laughable. I mean, his basic premise is that songs and music can convey values, which I agree with. Then he goes on to point out that many metal bands of c. 1988 conveyed values explicitly opposed to those of fundamentalist Christianity, and that many pop stars of the same time conveyed values subtly opposed to fundamentalist Christianity.

I frankly think he's right - I don't see how you can claim to be a fundamentalist Christian and still listen to a lot of death metal, or even old country cheatin' songs, without utter doublethink. And he specifically disclaims nonsense like believing that Jimmy Page deliberately added "back masking" to brainwash anyone.

I mean, if you're an atheist, you can make fun of him for the whole "LOL INVISBLE SKY WIZERDD!!" crap, but you can make fun of any religious message for that, right? I personally think he's talking nonsense because I think his theology is based on fairy tales. But if he believes in a theology based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, that includes a literal devil, I th
posted by tyllwin at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


hmm.

That was "I think the rest of his message logically follows"
posted by tyllwin at 10:05 AM on July 11, 2011


You mean like Bon Jovi, Poison and Winger combo tours for old folks?

No. I mean Ozzfest, The Big Four Tour, Wacken and countless other huge shows just to start. I see Opeth, Death and Cannibal Corpse shirts on teenagers all over the city. My wife teaches high school in the Bronx and she says that among the Latino kids, rock/metal is at least as popular, if not more, than hip-hop or Latin music. It's not in the 'mainstream' like Katy Perry but it never was, really. Katy Perry is music for people who don't like music.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2011


I believed this when I was in church school. I was afraid of demons. I was afraid of Satan. I was afraid that if I didn't love Jesus enough, I'd never go to heaven. I was so afraid.

I don't want to get all grar-religion, but that's one of the things I've noticed about my wife's grandmother, who is dying right now. She is one of the harshest, most moralizing Christians I have ever met, someone whose entire life is wrapped up in her (7th Day Adventist) church, and she is terrified that she is not going to heaven.

That would be bad enough, but the deathbed conversion she wrung out of her semi-lucid husband who never bought the whole line was worse. Imagine dying and then imagine dying with countless people around you, begging you to accept Jesus, wailing that they are scared for your immortal soul, screaming at you to convert so that they can see you in heaven ... heck, I'd probably convert just to shut them up (unless anyone I cared about was listening) and keep a notarized statement about my lies with my living will.

Finally, man, remember when Hard Rock was huge? What has western culture lost or gained by trading Judas Priest for Katy Perry?

Judas Priest is still around and on tour, I think. Also, boobs.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2011


diabolus in musica

Bartok and Mingus and Fripp are 100% more evil than Judas Priest.
posted by mintcake! at 11:20 AM on July 11, 2011


Not to be Donnie Downer here, but I don't actually think this specific guy with this specific film is all that laughable. I mean, his basic premise is that songs and music can convey values, which I agree with. Then he goes on to point out that many metal bands of c. 1988 conveyed values explicitly opposed to those of fundamentalist Christianity, and that many pop stars of the same time conveyed values subtly opposed to fundamentalist Christianity.

have you watched much of the videos? It's not about metal, it's about "rock," which includes Whitney Houston, Sheena Easton, and Madonna. Those acts convey values that are about as subtly opposed to fundamentalist Christianity as your standard sitcom.

Did you watch the part about the flowers?

Was this really in '89? I remember these people from '81 and '82. I especially enjoyed being told that 4/4 time was satanic.

Did anyone post the sequel (YT)? That looks like .... 2002.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this seems more like voyeurism for curious Christians than any real attempt to convince people who like rock music that it's bad for them.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2011


My how times change.

The best rock bands I saw performing on flatbed trucks in the 4th of July parade were all from churches.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:07 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


have you watched much of the videos?

I let the whole playlist play, I admit it doid not have my whole attention

It's not about metal, it's about "rock,"

Well, a great deal was about metal

which includes Whitney Houston, Sheena Easton, and Madonna. Those acts convey values that are about as subtly opposed to fundamentalist Christianity as your standard sitcom.


Here's where I think the real crux is: fundamentalist Christianity teaches that lustful thoughts and premarital sex result in eternal damnation. If you believe that, How are the videos for Express Yourself or even Sheena Easton's Strut OK to watch?

The issue lies in the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity themselves, not in the way he applies them. Your example of sitcoms is perfect. To a fundamentalist Christian, looking at the sitcoms of that day, say Friends or Seinfeld? They are opposed to a fundamentalist view. The characters are damned to burn forever as is anyone who emulates them. They're not saved. They're immoral. They do not live to glorify the savior. Live like they do and you will be damned with them.

It's an awful worldview. I think it's foolish. But if that's what you believe, then Madonna is doing the devil's work, and you can't shy away from saying so. My only point here is that it's Holmberg's premises that are screwy, not his logic after he accepts them.
posted by tyllwin at 1:12 PM on July 11, 2011


How are the videos for Express Yourself or even Sheena Easton's Strut OK to watch?

If you watch them without lust in your heart?

My only point here is that it's Holmberg's premises that are screwy, not his logic after he accepts them.

Granted, but I think that Christians have moved past it and are fine with the hypocrisy now. Katy Perry is still welcomed in most folds:

I'mma get your heart racing
In my skintight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skintight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight


How is that acceptable from a Christian?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2011


Strange, because I use rock and roll as an outlet for my religious impulses and as a route to some kind of secular salvation. I'm probably doing it wrong, and I still indulge in the proper devil rock and roll. But there's a strain arising from Springsteen that sees rock as a force that can heal.
I'm not talking about Christian rock, and I'm probably doing it wrong. But I laugh when I see these articles because I kinda do believe in the Church of Rock and Roll.
The 'evil' stuff works just as well for getting kids through bad shit and forming a sense of community. I'm glad my little bro has his metal.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite scene is where Holmberg 'proves' the physical dangers of rock 'n roll by placing an egg in front of an amplifier.

There is a physical danger. Always wear ear plugs at shows, kids! Especially if you spend a lot of time near the stage.
As for popularity, I work for a gig guide and the old stuff is still huge. Slayer and Iron Maiden co headlined a festival last year. I'm currently trying to budget for Stevie Nicks, Meat Loaf, and Roger Waters. Alice Cooper, Motley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Van Halen are all coming out. And it's not just old folks drawn to this - Sydney has some young hair metal bands, and the punk and metal scenes (though diminished) exist. Kids seem to like Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, pop punk, etc.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:42 PM on July 11, 2011


How about the World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation (from the Blue today)? Could it be..... SATAN?
posted by dhens at 3:48 PM on July 11, 2011


I'm currently trying to budget for Stevie Nicks, Meat Loaf, and Roger Waters. Alice Cooper, Motley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Van Halen are all coming out.

If you can only afford one of those, make it Roger Waters. If you can only afford two, Roger Waters and Alice Cooper. I've seen both of their tours in the past year, and they're both excellent.

More on topic, I have this movie on videocassette. It was given to me just a few years ago by the token Jesus Person who worked in my crew of delivery drivers. I tried to be kind when he gave it to me -- he was trying to share what was important to him. But mostly I just felt vaguely slimed by taking it. I keep thinking I will watch it and pull out audio bits to use in some kind of remix project, but never have been willing to give it the time to pay that much attention to it.

I kind of grew up believing a lot of this stuff. I spent quite a few years listening mainly to the late 70s and 80s Jesus groups -- Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Rez Band, Petra, and a zillion others. There are only a few which I can stomach at all these days, mainly Steve Taylor and Swirling Eddies, although I do keep some Amy and Michael around, and REZ is as great now as they ever were.

Of course, in secret I was listening to Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Prince and George Michael... But we won't tell the youth group director about that, will we?
posted by hippybear at 6:15 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heavy metal is the music that people who don't understand music listen to – people who harp on the augmented fourth because it's known as the "The Devil's Chord" and flamebait everyone in earshot with boring Satanism and "musicians" with their inane speed-riffing as a substitute for musicality. But that's why Christendom and its apostates flock to it like lovesick mosquitoes, decade after decade, sucking out their nectar of outrage and delicious, stupid pus.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:17 PM on July 11, 2011


Heavy metal is the music that people who don't understand music listen to – people who harp on the augmented fourth because it's known as the "The Devil's Chord" and flamebait everyone in earshot with boring Satanism and "musicians" with their inane speed-riffing as a substitute for musicality. But that's why Christendom and its apostates flock to it like lovesick mosquitoes, decade after decade, sucking out their nectar of outrage and delicious, stupid pus.

Snark and bullshit. I don't understand music, so I listen to punk and folk. I assumed metalheads had a deeper knowledge of music than most non-metal folk.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:55 PM on July 11, 2011


Darling, you assumed wrong.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:31 PM on July 11, 2011


But it was rather snarky of me. I think the backwards-masking gave me a knee-jerk.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2011


There is a physical danger. Always wear ear plugs at shows, kids!

Oh, god, absolutely. Hardly a day goes by that I don't regret my cavalier attitude to loudness & my subsequent tinnitus.

Also, I know many working musicians/engineers who are into metal, among many other things. So, take that, hackneyed opinion of metal fans.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:20 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heavy metal is the music that people who don't understand music listen to

lolwut

It's my experience that metal fans are more concerned with technical proficiency than fans of other popular genres, more likely to be musicians themselves, and more likely to appreciate classical music, jazz, and avant-garde music.

Metal's a big, sprawling genre. For every greaseball with a Motörhead denim jacket (NOT-MOTÖRHEADIST) there's three guys who can talk passionately about microtonality and Terry Riley.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:06 PM on July 11, 2011


"and back to when waltzing was going to destroy womanhood."

but that really happened
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 PM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right after all that yoga and vegetarianism made them weak and debauched.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 PM on July 11, 2011


Right after all that yoga and vegetarianism made them weak and debauched.

What does that make vegetarian punks?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2011


Tired.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on July 11, 2011


goddamn phone browsers, how do they work?

vegan metal
posted by mrgrimm at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2011


I have to say, the dude's introductory speech is pretty amazing. He lays out a very clear context of his understanding, purpose, and sympathetically deflects any obvious misinterpretations of his film.

Good on him.
I will happily listen to any argument ejrmsomeone will lay out their basis of truth and understanding, and then present a internally coherent logical framework with that foundation of truth(s).



And I am enjoying the film just for all the great classic footage.
posted by Theta States at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2011


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