Editor’s note: This isn’t the Part 2 of “Burning Ideas” that we originally planned to run today. But some breaking news directly relevant to what we wrote in Part 1 shoved the original Part 2 off the front page. So the original Part 2 has become Part 3, and we’ll run that tomorrow.
I’ve never been to Norway, but I know a few things about it that are different from the good old US of A. In Norway, for example, you can stage a black metal musical at Den Nationale Scene (translation: The National Stage), one of Norway’s oldest and most renowned theaters, as part of an annual international music and culture festival. And as we wrote yesterday in Part 1 of this post, you can apparently include in your cast a guy like Gaahl, ex-Gorgoroth vocalist and twice imprisoned advocate of church burning.
Oops! Not so fast. Check out this breaking news as reported by Blabbermouth yesterday:
The artistic director of Den Nationale Scene (DNS), the renowned Norwegian theater where Kristian “Gaahl” Espedal (GORGOROTH,GOD SEED, TRELLDOM) is set to make his musical debut this May, is reconsidering his decision to cast the former black metal vocalist for the upcoming “Svartediket” production.
Bjarte Hjelmeland is under pressure from both the clergy and the director of at Festspillene i Bergen (Bergen International Festival), the annual international music and cultural festival where the “first-ever black metal musical” is set to receive its premiere, because Gaahl has once again made it clear that he supports and condones the church burnings associated with the early Norwegian black metal scene. . . .
Hjelmeland says he will travel to Oslo to have “a long talk” with Gaahl about his statements to the media before making a decision on whether to allow the singer to stay involved with the musical. “It is important, both for me personally and on behalf of DNS, to completely distance ourselves from the attitudes Gaahl has expressed in the Bergens Tidende interview,” Hjelmeland says.
“My beliefs are diametrically opposed to his. I pretty much grew up in church and consider myself a Christian. . . . I was not familiar with Kristian‘s past when I hired him to do ‘Svartediket’. And I could not possibly have known that he would come out and publicly support these serious crimes.”
Tell you what: I’d pay decent money to be a fly on the wall when Mr. Hjelmeland has that long talk with Gaahl. (more after the jump . . .)
But since that ain’t gonna happen, let’s use our imaginations:
Hjelmeland: You didn’t really say that stuff about burning churches, did you?
Gaahl: Of course I fucking said it. Can’t you read?
Hjelmeland: Well, surely that reporter took your statements out of context. Please tell me they took your statements out of context.
Gaahl: The fucking context was burning churches.
Hjelmeland: Shit. Well, can’t you say that you’ve reconsidered your views and say they were just youthful indiscretions? You know, like “experimenting” with weed?
Gaahl: Are you fucking brain-dead? I’d like to drink your blood.
Hjelmeland: Well then. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. If you won’t publicly back off that crazy church-burning stuff, I’m afraid we’ll have to fire you.
Gaahl: (Long pause.) Uh, ya know, the more I fucking think about this, the more I think that douchebag reporter misquoted me.
I dunno, maybe Gaahl won’t back off. But I bet he will. Whether he does or doesn’t, I gotta question Hjelmeland’s veracity when he says he wasn’t familiar with Gaahl’s past when he hired him. This dude is staging a fucking black metal musical in fucking Norway, he casts the ex-vocalist of fucking Gorgoroth, and he didn’t check out Gaahl’s “resume”? Puhleeeeze.
And what’s with Hjelmeland’s sudden sensitivity to the views of Norwegian churches? Let me repeat: the dude is staging a fucking black metal musical. In what universe did he think black metal is church-friendly?
We’re not commenting on this in defense of Gaahl’s rhetoric about church burning. As we suggested yesterday, you could burn every church in the world to the ground, but if you haven’t changed the way people think, if you haven’t convinced them to think for themselves instead of following religious “leaders” like sheep, then you would be accomplishing nothing — actually, worse than nothing.
But it would be equally deplorable for Hjelmeland to do a 180 in the face of religious or political pressure. Same point applies: you can’t burn ideas you don’t like, and you can’t fire them either.
I guess maybe Norway may have more in common with the good old US of A than I thought. We’ll see . . . .