“Diversityklok” S4 / E2
- B+ Community Grade
Tonight’s episode deals with a very important and sensitive topic: the pernicious danger racism. Or, rather, the pernicious danger that accusations of racism can pose to your career, even if you’re Dethklok. Appropriately enough, the episode both begins and ends with a press conference. At the first, the band is preparing to take questions about its forthcoming album. Things seem to be going swimmingly. Nathan milks his new catchphrase, “That’s doable,” for all that it’s worth—in truth, for quite a bit more than that, actually. And Murderface takes pride in giving the world a gander at his new mustache, which has to be judged a great success if his intention was to bring out his resemblance to Avery Schreiber.
Things don’t go off the rails until a stiff-backed journalist stands up to ask the band why there are so few black metal fans, and whether this is because Dethklok doesn’t reach out to black listeners, and whether this is because the band itself is racist. After this bombshell—dropped, says a TV newsreader, into a media environment in which “accusations of racism are a surefire way to ruin the careers of even the most beloved celebrity”—the band goes into spin-control mode. Dethklok is deeply offended by the absurdity of the idea that it might be racist; as Nathan reasonably points out, “We don’t give a [bleep!] what color our fans are, because we don’t give a[bleep!] about our fans!”
But just because they see the accusation as baseless doesn’t mean they won’t move heaven and earth to combat it. The members of Dethklok may be above conventional morality, but in “Diversityklok” (and maybe only “Diversityklok”), they have to live in this world, too. The band members may cultivate an image as outlaws who even qualify, by some some criteria, as “evil,” but where violence and debauchery strike a lot of people as sexy, to be seen as racist would just make them come across as douchebags. Trying to show just how colorblind they are, Pickles and Murderface take turns talking about people—not white people, not black people, just “some guys,” regular human beings whose skin color is irrelevant. By the time Murderface announces that “some guys” seem to live in areas where there sure are a lot more liquor stores than groceries, it’s clear that the thought experiment isn’t going to be helpful to anyone.
Perhaps sensing that their time is going to waste, Nathan, Pickles, and Skwisgaar concentrate on making it up to Toki for forgetting to take him to the press conference by joining his newly created Special Person’s Invite Club, for which he is even designing uniforms and a logo. Murderface, to his despair, receives no invitation to join Toki’s club, because Toki finds his mustache to be a little too rough on the eyes. And so a group partially born out of a rejection of racism—the SPIC is even central to the forthcoming press conference—becomes an engine for a cruel, shallow, exclusionary attitude itself. The ironies are rich and interlocking, and no less provocative for the inconsistency at their core. Because racism is wrong and unforgivable, yet that doesn’t change the fact that there’s something to be said for judging Murderface harshly because of that train wreck on his upper lip. Murderface himself can only maintain a brave face as his comrades splash in a hot tub and wear funny hats without him, though when he’s alone with just a mirror and clippers, he lets it all hang out, “I thought my mustache would bring me popularity and acceptance,” he whimpers, “but it’s driven me further into deformed isolation.”
At the second press conference, billed as “Eracism,” the guys set out to, as the announcer says, “achieve the impossible by recovering from accusations of racism.” The funniest thing about the punchline, which involves uniforms that look like Klan robes and a logo that looks like a burning cross, is the special effort that the show makes early on to justify them. As for Murderface’s entrance, well, if a character in a story about deflecting charges of racism decides to slick his hair down and trim his mustache just before making a high-profile public appearance and you can’t guess what’s coming, you probably haven’t seen enough Seinfeld. Yada yada yada, and out.
- A harsher grader would have called this a “B” episode, maybe even a “B-“; the middle section with the Tribunal contributes next to nothing. However, Toki’s fantasy about how his club will somehow enable him to have tea in the forest with the cuddly woodland folk would deserve a “B+” all by itself if you dropped it into an episode of Hillbilly Handfishin’.
- Best new fragment of a conspiracy story that may never come up again: Dethklok’s captive enemy geek has picked up traces of mysterious sounds buried in the mix of his favorite Dethklok album, and believes they were created and embedded there by whales, who may be trying to communicate with the band.
- Instant bumper sticker: “Talking about music is like painting about farting.”