Drowning Pool Bodies

While people argue over what motivated and inspired Tucson mass murder Jared Loughner, there’s always one scapegoat to turn to: what music he listened to. He’s been described as a “pot smoking, metal listening loner,” who shut out the world with his iPod earbuds. His only favorited YouTube video shows someone (possibly Loughner) burning an American flag while Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” plays. According to Billboard, the band is upset that their 2001 single has been misinterpreted, “again.” Again?

  • After 9/11, the song was on Clear Channel’s list of songs not to play on the radio because of its chorus (“Let the bodies hit the floor.”)
  • In Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore points out that “Bodies” is one of the songs American soldiers use to pump themselves up for the battlefield (a few years earlier Moore talked to Marilyn Manson for Bowling For Columbine about the way he was associated with mass murder).
  • In 2003, 19-year-old Joshua Cookie murdered his parents while playing “Bodies.”
  • “Bodies” was one of the songs used to torture terrorist suspect Mohamedou Ould Slahi in 2006.

It’s a terrible song for sure, and probably one that, like Garry Glitter’s “Rock n Roll Part 2,” should only be played at sporting events (and, possibly, laser tag arenas). But does it inspire violence? After articles linking the song to violence and Loughner appeared in the Washington Post, the band released a statement explaining that the song was about “the brotherhood of the mosh pit” and not murder. “We find it inappropriate to imply that our song or rock music in general is to blame for this tragic event,” the band said. “It is premature to make this assumption without having all the facts in the case.”

Still, it’s kind of hard to ignore that this song has been used around and associated with some very terrible things. But using “heavy metal” as some sort of sign of mental illness isn’t right either. Some of Loughner’s other tastes, according to Huffington Post:

The boys listened to the heavy metal band Slipknot and progressive rockers The Mars Volta, studied the form of meditative movement called tai chi, and watched and discussed movies.

Loughner’s favorites included little-known conspiracy theory documentaries such as Zeitgeist and Loose Change as well as bigger studio productions with cult followings and themes of brainwashing, science fiction and altered states of consciousness, including Donnie Darko and A Scanner Darkly.

Could indie movies be to blame? Tai chi? Or could easy access to guns plus mental illness? Ask Mr. Heston:

In somewhat related news, one of Rep. Gabriel Giffords favorite bands is Calexico.

Comments (6)
  1. Thanks for sparing us the “Bodies” YouTube

  2. Even though I listened to Snoop Dogg and Dre and Nirvana growing up, the only warning about music I got from my mom was about Beck’s “Loser,” which she said was “not a very nice way to think of yourself.”

  3. I think that music can be very open and we will often interpreted in the way that best fit our own frame of mind and experiences. However, in the particular case of “Bodies”, the song is very direct and there’s only one lonesome paragraph that might hint at an actual message (attempt). The rest was simply created to incite a massive mosh pit at their concerts.

    Pointing out which music, movies or video games the guy liked is, in my opinion, voided of significance.

  4. Is no one going to point out the fact that that song is supplied by YouTube when you upload any video? It’s actually the first choice in the list when you want to remove the original audio.
    In fact, I have a video on YouTube of a seagul soaring at the beach… to Drowning Pools Bodies. Do I like them? Frig no. I just wanted to get rid of the wind noise in the video.
    Perhaps the fingers should be aimed at his parents, or are we too afraid to blame his actual teachers in the school of life?

  5. Look, I would never advocate art is responsible for these murders, but violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He didn’t do this just because. He had reasons, however warped they were. And to get to that point, he needed some sort of motivation. I’m not saying Drowning Pool or Marilyn Manson or Judas Priest are responsible for whatever they’ve been blamed for in the past but people need to realize the message they put out there is going to affect people in some way, and maybe not the way they intended.

    The song “Bodies” could have any number of interpretations. A common one involves violence. So should you absolve the band because someone who is mentally unstable drifts towards it and misinterprets the meaning, or do you ask that they at least consider the possibility that they put something out there that could cause problems because it feeds that sort impulse in a group, no matter how small? Because artists, musicians, filmmakers, and so on are all too willing to take credit for the positive influences they’ve had on society. Film, especially, like to credit itself for helping change attitudes on things like racism. Only a few years ago George Clooney made a speech during the Oscars about film helping to change public perception of racism; so can art only have a positive influence? It seems like that’s all people are willing to concede.

    Basically, I’m trying to say art is an objective experience. You can’t automatically dismiss the music someone listens to or the movies they watch. It’s not a direct cause, but often it’s feeding a deeper impulse in the person. Some people like horror movies and they’re fine, but there are people who delve into extreme violence for reasons we’re probably too uncomfortable to examine. In the end, we look for things that make us feel normal. Someone might respond to a song like “Bodies” because it helps them cope with anger, or maybe they’re just really into dudes screaming, but whatever the reason, you can’t automatically assume someone’s motives. Yeah, if it wasn’t “Bodies” it could’ve been “Du Hast” or any number of other gimmick metal songs, but the person was probably looking for something to help explain the anger or frustration or alienation they were feeling.

    I’m guessing this doesn’t make a lot of sense but whatever.

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