‘Turn That Down!’ Or The Persecution Of The Office Metalhead

MTV News Writer Chris HarrisWalk around the MTV News office on any given day, and you’re bound to hear music, because, while we may be journalists, we’re all music lovers first and foremost. It’s what drew us all to the job, and it’s just what we do. Often, I’ll stroll past hip-hop editor Shaheem Reid’s office, and he’ll be cranking the latest mixtapes. Right next door, in rock writer James “Hollywood” Montgomery’s office, he’s almost always blasting Radiohead or the Hold Steady or whatever indie band everyone’s talking about this week.

Me? I’m the metal writer, so I’m almost always listening to something loud, offensive and objectionable. Of course, those are adjectives other people use to describe the music I love. To my ears, it’s smart, technically demanding music that takes an immense amount of talent to create. But that’s just my opinion. Unfortunately, no one else — save my boss — appreciates heavy metal and hardcore, which makes working in the newsroom all the more … well, I guess the word would be annoying.

No matter what I’m listening to — be it something tame, like the new Slipknot record, or something grim, like Watain — I’m constantly being told (rarely asked) to either turn my music off, turn it down to an inaudible level or put headphones on — which doesn’t make much sense for a reporter, as there are always phone calls or questions, shouted from across the room, that need answering.

At times, I’ve been told my taste in music “sucks,” and that whatever it is I’m listening to at the time “is making me want to punch someone — mainly, you.” The other day, while listening to Overcast, I got an e-mail from Kim Stolz that read: “I may set myself on fire if you don’t put headphones on.”

Not that I’m whining here. May sound like it, but I’m not. I am just trying to raise awareness of a bigger issue: genre discrimination. It’s not the volume of the music I play — can’t be, because I’m never told, “Chris, that’s too loud.” It’s always that it “sucks” or is “too evil.” Yet, some of my co-workers will spend hours blabbering about reality television, as if they were speaking to a room full of deaf grandmothers.

I guess, being a metalhead, I should be used to this sort of thing. And I suppose the fact that I sit in the newsroom, among a handful of editors, other writers, on-air folks and producers, makes me more susceptible to this sort of thing, while James and Sha have offices. But that doesn’t make this persecution right. Maybe having my own office would restore harmony around here (hint, hint).

And by the way, check out this week’s Metal File, in which Metallica reflect on the 20th anniversary of … And Justice for All.

How about you? Have you ever dealt with similar turmoil and intolerance in your office?