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Flashback Friday: Chester Bennington, RIP

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Not long ago I did a Flashback Friday post for Chris Cornell who committed suicide at the too young age of 52. This week Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park who had also sung at Cornell’s funeral, has also committed suicide at the even younger age of 41.

I was never a fan of Linkin Park’s style, so I can’t really do any analysis of it justice. But clearly, both he and Cornell made music that meant a lot to young men struggling to find acceptable forms of emotional expression. Their contributions to popular conceptions of masculinity and vulnerability in American music cannot be easily dismissed.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.5 times more likely to take their own life than women. White males in particular are more likely to be affected. I’ll defer to an expert to make a thorough analysis of why, but the issue of high rates of male suicide is a feminist issue. In Chester Bennington’s case, he was a survivor of child sexual assault. The stigma of sex abuse for the victim is well known for female victims, but the silence around male victims is deafening.

To honor Chester’s talent and his relationship to others in the music industry, here’s a selection of his covers.

“Interstate Love Song”, Stone Temple Pilots (2013)

Chester collaborated to sing some of Stone Temple Pilots’ most iconic songs before his close friend and frontman Scott Weiland passed away in 2015. I’ve personally always favored STP more than Linkin Park and “Interstate” is well played on my Spotify. Weiland had lost his battle with substance abuse, a different form of suicide. A recent article from Alternative Nation describes how both their lives mirrored each other. Well worth a read for rock historians.

“Rolling In The Deep” (2013)

And finally, here is Chester covering Hallelujah for Chris Cornell (2017)

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  • Karen

    Thank you. Feminists need to address the damage patriarchy does to men, because those same structures hurt us as well. Patriarchy denies a decent life to all women, but does the same thing to most men, and destroys a larger group of men than it does women. That is, patriarchy kills more men than it does women. It damages all women but patriarchs need us at least when we’re young and pretty to be their success tokens. Men, especially men who can’t or won’t play the patriarch’s games, are useless to them and must be eliminated. Artists and the artistically-inclined are most likely to show the failures of the patriarchs as well as being effective competition, so they have be destroyed first.

    • Jo March 76

      Feminists are the *only* people doing any real work around this. It would be nice if those MRA dudes would actually care about this instead of just hating on feminism.

      • Origami Isopod

        Thank you.

        There were no such things as shelters for battered women when the early Second Wavers started bringing attention to the issue. They worked their asses off to create them. The same MRAs who constantly whine that feminists don’t care about men have never put any effort into creating the same spaces for abused men. They don’t care about other men. All they care about is getting one over on women.

        Another thing: Feminists, reliably, are some of the very few people who give a shit about prison rape. All rape is bad. Yet from the way MRAs piss and moan you’d think we were the ones making jokes about it, rather than the usual dudebro wastes of skin.

      • rm

        Without even going as far as MRA types, I think the average young man in my college 1st-year classes will complain about the harms done to men by patriarchy/conservative religion/gender roles, but they cannot recognize the cause and unreflectively blame feminism or all women. Part of education is seeing how that is backwards.

    • Nym w/o Qualities

      I have said that maybe in 40 or 50 years it will be time to address sexism against men … maybe I’m wrong about that. Certainly you are right that patriarchy harms both men and women. I do think, however, that some harmful gender stereotypes are imposed on men at least partly via unquestioned patriarchal assumptions shared by a lot of women. But “women are sexist too” sounds a bit like “white lives matter” to my ears, true but totally not helpful at this time.

      • The sexism that women spout tends to be of the variety that privileges men. That’s why Handmaid’s Tale the TV show is frightening. Divide the women up into classes and let them do the dirty work.

        • Nym w/o Qualities

          I’m thinking more of stereotypes surrounding parenting roles and emotional pain thresholds, which actually do privilege certain women over certain men in certain instances, but as I say … it’s probably 50 years too soon to discuss.

          • Patrick_Spens

            Until 2013 there was one shelter for male victims of domestic violence in all of Canada. It closed due to lack of funding, and the proprietor (and past domestic violence victim) killed himself. There are currently no shelters for male victims of domestic violence in Canada. So I’m going to go ahead and say we should discuss this before the 2060s.

    • saraeanderson

      Part of me thinks “Oh great, more emotional labor that women need to do for men,” but the other part of me says, “Well somebody’s got to do it.” Men have failed to adapt.

      • Origami Isopod

        So go for it, then.

  • Denverite

    I’ll defer to an expert to make a thorough analysis of why

    I’m far from an expert or anything, but I’d be utterly shocked if the answer to this is anything other than “access to guns.” It’s always been my understanding (perhaps incorrect) that women actually attempt suicide at a higher rate than men, but men are far, far more effective, because blowing your brains out is a lot more effective than taking a bunch of pills.

    • Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and Robin Williams all hanged themselves.

      • Denverite

        Just for posterity’s sake, I added the ETA about 45 seconds before Christa replied.

        • Looking at the cross section of age, race, gender and method for suicide in the US offers no easy explanations I’m afraid. But I do think suicide rates tend to go up during/after difficult wars for men who’ve seen combat and aren’t given any support after returning.

    • Drew

      “hanging is actually more prevalent than firearm suicide in the western world.”

      That’s interesting. At the risk of sounding crass, I wouldn’t even know how to hang myself without having to google it. Tie a belt to a doorknob? Shooting yourself seems much more straightforward.

    • Patrick_Spens

      The 3:1 ratio is also present in Canada and the U.K., so firearms access isn’t the answer. Given that age groups most likely to commit suicide are 45-64 and 85+, the answer likely has something to do with men having weaker emotional support structures (particularly if they are single, particularly particularly if they are newly single).

      • I was just about to make another comment that although the methods differ from country to country, countries with very different firearms policies still have similar rates. So its not the firearms themselves. But males consistently higher throughout. http://www.who.int/gho/mental_health/suicide_rates/en/

      • addicted4444

        I suspect that makes a lot of sense. Men are not allowed to cry, and men cannot discuss emotional issues with friends.

        So basically, once again, feminism hating men are screwing themselves over again (much like the genuine Men’s Rights idiots who realize that the “feminazis” are doing a lot more to help reduce inequality against men (such as in child custody) than any of their MRA brethren, who are usually just frustrated men children).

        • saraeanderson

          This points to something I’ve been thinking about: the whole “I don’t want to do emotional labor” thing is really really unhealthy (tho I’m lazy, so I understand it). Men abdicate it and then they kill themselves and die earlier. Do feminists really want that?

          • liberalrob

            How does feminism have any responsibility for men’s choices to kill themselves? Men aren’t killing themselves because feminists are driving them to it. If someone decides to kill themselves, that’s their decision; nobody else’s.

            In other words, why should feminists in particular be especially concerned (more than any given human being) about men committing suicide?

          • Origami Isopod

            This is a gross misunderstanding of how emotional labor is a burden almost completely put upon women. Not wanting to have to pick up men’s slack doesn’t mean wanting out of it completely.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    driveby/drop in to say “Interstate” was one of *the* songs of the 90s for me

    • I’ll add them to my list of future FBF posts. As far as I can tell, they are not popular on TV singing contests so that’ll be different.

    • majeff

      Same. It appears Weiland’s substance abuse issues turned him into more than a bit of an asshole, but the guy also had a pretty decent set of pipes.

    • liberalrob

      I keep confusing STP with Alice In Chains. Both made good music.

  • A friend and I were just texting the other week and making fun of ourselves for being into Linkin Park (among other vaguely nu-metal bands) back in middle/high school.*

    Its a sad occasion. I’ve never envied popular music artists. In addition to all the other crap that everyone has to put up with, their vocation and primary mode of self expression ends up being tightly constrained by the whims of the crowd and contingencies of commercial tastes. For an artist in their 40’s or 50’s or older to have so much inertia anchoring them to the same type of art they produced in their 20’s, while the culture moves at light speed, must be absolute torture. I don’t think you see nearly as much of this in other artistic media: we give novelists, painters, filmmakers, comedians and composers much more room to grow as artists than we do popular musicians (with a few exceptions, of course).

    I’m not saying this is the reason for what happened. No one can know that. But this is just a thing I think about whenever an untimely self-inflicted death of a performer–suicide, overdose, etc.– like this happens.

    *[For the record, my tastes in music haven’t gotten any better, just way more mellow: I basically listen to either the multi-decade pop I-pod shuffle station (always possessing a proper Christian name depending on the city: Steve FM, Dave 102.5) or the contemporary equivalent of my parents’ muzak (the kids call it “downtempo”) .]

    • Anna in PDX

      Huh the multi-decade pop station here in the Portland area is “Charlie FM” – that’s weird, I didn’t know this was a thing country-wide. (It mostly seems to play 80s music but it does other time periods too)

      • I had an English professor point it out to me. It’s kind of creepy, but I guess they’re trying to play it up as “It’s like your buddy [insert generic male first name]’s Ipod playlist”. And for some reason they change it around from market to market. Though I’ve lived in two places with a Steve FM. I think the other one where I lived was Tom .

    • liberalrob

      I’ve wondered the same thing. One of the things that makes touring such a grind must be the mental toll of playing the same 20 songs over and over again night after night. And as the years go by, if you’re lucky enough to be successful you get to play those same songs over and over again night after night for year after year after year…like a typecast actor who endlessly is asked to repeat their breakthrough role.

  • Anna in PDX

    Oh my goodness. My sons loved LP music when they were teens. It’s very nostalgic for me to listen to also because of my relationship with my sons. I am so sorry he killed himself, and so young. Child abuse really is a feminist issue. Just heartbroken.

  • Harkov311

    “Shadow of the Day” came on my Spotify playlist a few hours after I heard, and I’ll admit, I definitely teared up.

  • liberalrob

    I like Linkin Park. I never really looked for any deep philosophical enlightenment from their lyrics or any particularly brilliant musicianship…I just liked their alt-rock/rap fusion for its overall effect. They also seemed to have a knack for making interesting music videos that appeal to the CG-animation fan in me:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgxcvmkPD-I

  • Origami Isopod

    What a terrible waste. Rest in peace.

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