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Thoughts on metal and negativity

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4 minutes ago, Vampyrique said:

Perhaps it's a matter of them having too much metal on or in the brain, but I don't understand metalheads. It's apparently fine to write lyrics glorifying actions like rape and murder, brutalizing women including genital mutilation of women, necrophilia, anti-Christian anything... but just don't write some words about race, Nazis, Muslims or whatever flavour of the month that is trending on twitter. I'm just waiting for that fateful ironic day that metal music is no longer about the usual gore, but Tipper Gore instead.

 

It depends in part on the degree to which most people take the subjects seriously. Horror gore lyrics are generally intended to be ridiculous and taken as such; it's the musical equivalent of watching Dead Alive or some such. Lyrics glorifying rape and other violence towards women are getting called out more and more, which I think is good. It also depends on the specific culture - anti-Christian and generally antireligious sentiments have been par for the course in metal for decades, to the point where they feel pretty tired TBH, but in countries with blasphemy laws they're still actually risky, whereas in a cultural environment like ours in the USA, lyrics specifically about Judaism or Islam could be construed as attacking minority groups, and the "risk" lies in being called out for it. There's also a long tradition of "horrors of war" lyrics that aren't particularly controversial or taboo to the metal community at large. You don't see metalheads flocking away from Slayer because of the Angel Of Death lyrics. It's part of the canon. Not all of this is logical. It doesn't need to be.

Also, "metalheads" aren't a homogenous group. There are plenty of people out there perfectly happy to defend and even promote racist and misogynistic crap; they even sign up here from time to time to share their garbage screeds. They're obviously serious, and some of the music they share is obvious propaganda and incitement to violence. You can understand why we don't allow it here. It's funny to me that people will whine about "freedom of speech" when their actual end goal with the messages they spread is to take other people's freedoms away. Somehow those of us who value tolerance are supposed to play by rules that they don't have to.

The idea in your post that antiracism is a new, ephemeral phenomenon caused by people brainwashed into seeking online approval is bullshit, and I think you're smart and informed enough to know that. There's a fine line here between having a conversation and political trolling. Leave the trolling at the door.

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Not a troll, nary a bridge to be found. Only sardonic humour, a kind that people apparently choose to take quite seriously when other things aren't. Actually, I'm mocking the political aspect; the fact that any metalhead who has embraced any of the genre's controversial messages over the decades (that's the majority of the collective) would be in any position to moralize. But I know that the sensitivity in recent years is really just all about politics, politics masquerading as morals, as one can observe via cultural/social trends.

Now, I'm personally not offended, nor do I care if people are offended by metal's lyrical themes as it was obviously built on such a foundation with many bands intending to offend. But is shock value by band promoting Nazi or KKK propaganda or humourous racial stereotypes acceptable or treated the same way as other offensive shock themes? Of course not.

Either be offended or don't be altogether; or, if one chooses to pick and choose, then at least at admit that it really isn't about morals but an emotional and/or political appeal drawn arbitrarily. Otherwise, it's just the justification of hypocrisy.      

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On 7/24/2020 at 8:38 PM, Vampyrique said:

Not a troll, nary a bridge to be found. Only sardonic humour, a kind that people apparently choose to take quite seriously when other things aren't. Actually, I'm mocking the political aspect; the fact that any metalhead who has embraced any of the genre's controversial messages over the decades (that's the majority of the collective) would be in any position to moralize. But I know that the sensitivity in recent years is really just all about politics, politics masquerading as morals, as one can observe via cultural/social trends.

Now, I'm personally not offended, nor do I care if people are offended by metal's lyrical themes as it was obviously built on such a foundation with many bands intending to offend. But is shock value by band promoting Nazi or KKK propaganda or humourous racial stereotypes acceptable or treated the same way as other offensive shock themes? Of course not.

Either be offended or don't be altogether; or, if one chooses to pick and choose, then at least at admit that it really isn't about morals but an emotional and/or political appeal drawn arbitrarily. Otherwise, it's just the justification of hypocrisy.      

There's some merit to this, it is a little funny that people might get bent out of shape over some slam and pornogrind lyrics but be totally fine with listening to early Cannibal Corpse. Bands get grandfathered in or their content is selectively ignored. But I think the "glass houses and stones" mentality here is overly simplistic. Suggesting that people shouldn't call out racism or sexism in music because they (used to) like objectionable stuff themselves doesn't hold water, it's putting everything objectionable on the same plane. That's not how the world works. You can like Balthus and Mapplethorpe and still think kiddie porn is bad. You can also grow up and realize that some of the stuff you used to think was ok (in art or in life) really isn't ok, and never was. You can even find your way back to enjoying it for its artistic merit while accepting the flaws of the people who created it! Mirabile dictu. This happens all the time. Of course people "pick and choose", that's the nature of morality. Implying that people are "only" doing things for political reasons ignores how deeply politics and morals are intertwined; implying that they're doing things only "because they're offended" just seems like an attempt to make their motives seem more shallow. The metal community is having its own little microcosmic reckoning with some much larger cultural problems. I guess some backlash is to be expected but I still think it's a shame.

As far as shock value goes, it can be a really effective tool to open people's minds, but the point behind it matters. In the case of a lot of metal, what's behind it is unfortunately not that much. It feels like some of us saw great art that was intended to shock, but failed to realize that shock alone didn't make it great. If someone is really "plumbing the depths" for some artistic purpose, hey cool, but it's still on them to communicate that effectively.

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8 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

There's some merit to this, it is a little funny that people might get bent out of shape over some slam and pornogrind lyrics but be totally fine with listening to early Cannibal Corpse. Bands get grandfathered in or their content is selectively ignored. But I think the "glass houses and stones" mentality here is overly simplistic. Suggesting that people shouldn't call out racism or sexism in music because they (used to) like objectionable stuff themselves doesn't hold water, it's putting everything objectionable on the same plane. That's not how the world works. You can like Balthus and Mapplethorpe and still think kiddie porn is bad. You can also grow up and realize that some of the stuff you used to think was ok (in art or in life) really isn't ok, and never was. You can even find your way back to enjoying it for its artistic merit while accepting the flaws of the people who created it! Mirabile dictu. This happens all the time. Of course people "pick and choose", that's the nature of morality. Implying that people are "only" doing things for political reasons ignores how deeply politics and morals are intertwined; implying that they're doing things only "because they're offended" just seems like an attempt to make their motives seem more shallow. The metal community is having its own little microcosmic reckoning with some much larger cultural problems. I guess some backlash is to be expected but I still think it's a shame.

As far as shock value goes, it can be a really effective tool to open people's minds, but the point behind it matters. In the case of a lot of metal, what's behind it is unfortunately not that much. It feels like some of us saw great art that was intended to shock, but failed to realize that shock alone didn't make it great. If someone is really "plumbing the depths" for some artistic purpose, hey cool, but it's still on them to communicate that effectively.

I really have no intention to defend any of metal’s absurd or degenerate themes, but I’m not personally offended by them because I knew what I was getting myself into. Metal music’s history is one that largely contrarian and anti-social and is built on such themes. I don't ever claim to endorse anyone else's views other than my own, hence why I can separate the art from the artist and don't really feel a need for politics in art.  

Regarding morals: people can justify committing minor offenses by contrasting them to major offenses, but nothing gets solved that way because the bar can always be lowered. The real root of the problem regarding immorality, I would argue, lies in the impetus to commit the offense in the first place no matter the severity. Sure, people can arbitrarily decide what is worse between racism, murder, rape, torture, pedophilia, sexism, genocide, etc, but it’s a moot point because they’re all bad and immoral anyways. This is why I’m not going to crusade against racist bands whilst defending bands whose lyrics promote worse themes like the aforementioned, or vice versa. Plus, there is a ‘normalizing’ effect on the individual or collective consciousness/unconsciousness that occurs with repeated exposure to such morbid themes, and things can then only devolve further, especially when done to satisfy the aim of shock value. This is no different in films, television, pornography, literature etc, and the effect is noticeable, especially generationally. I agree that shock value can open peoples' eyes, but I think its value is in immediacy and appealing to the lowest common denominator.
 
I think it would be wonderful if all bands could write lyrics on par with Dani Filth but it’s all too rare. Actually, I’d probably prefer a band write passionately about their love of Nazi-era Germany because at least it would provoke a conversation or debate or research, than the type of throwaway, juvenile lyrics about mutilating women and sodomizing nuns ever could.

Now, if people fear that a type of propaganda is infectious to the gullible masses, then more should be done to encourage critical thinking and debate amongst people. Bad ideas, bad logic, unphilosophical thought will get weeded out in debate in a way that quick censorship cannot promise. If anything, censorship only serves to aggravate and reinforce the opposing sides’ views and give whatever is being censored a kind of newfound power.

Regarding ideas such as freedom of speech/expression and tolerance: I think people should have the freedom to express any ideas whether they’re good or bad but shouldn’t expect other people to be tolerant of them; hence my view on debates over censorship. My criticism of leftist politics is that they preach tolerance yet hypocritically act intolerant to anyone who doesn’t agree with them; they accuse their opposition of being fascists and perpetual threats to freedom of expression whilst becoming exactly the fascist threat they claim to be saving the world from.

Political ideologies are becoming all too increasingly pathological and their neurotic tendrils have been spreading over absolutely everything. I cannot read a film or book review without being inundated with contemporary politics' revisionism and irrelevance to the artist, his intention, or to the content of the art itself at the time of its release.

I'm not condemning metal music as a whole, I'm just being honest about its consequences, which are both good and bad.

 

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13 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

I really have no intention to defend any of metal’s absurd or degenerate themes, but I’m not personally offended by them because I knew what I was getting myself into. Metal music’s history is one that largely contrarian and anti-social and is built on such themes. I don't ever claim to endorse anyone else's views other than my own, hence why I can separate the art from the artist and don't really feel a need for politics in art.  

Regarding morals: people can justify committing minor offenses by contrasting them to major offenses, but nothing gets solved that way because the bar can always be lowered. The real root of the problem regarding immorality, I would argue, lies in the impetus to commit the offense in the first place no matter the severity. Sure, people can arbitrarily decide what is worse between racism, murder, rape, torture, pedophilia, sexism, genocide, etc, but it’s a moot point because they’re all bad and immoral anyways. This is why I’m not going to crusade against racist bands whilst defending bands whose lyrics promote worse themes like the aforementioned, or vice versa. Plus, there is a ‘normalizing’ effect on the individual or collective consciousness/unconsciousness that occurs with repeated exposure to such morbid themes, and things can then only devolve further, especially when done to satisfy the aim of shock value. This is no different in films, television, pornography, literature etc, and the effect is noticeable, especially generationally. I agree that shock value can open peoples' eyes, but I think its value is in immediacy and appealing to the lowest common denominator.
 
I think it would be wonderful if all bands could write lyrics on par with Dani Filth but it’s all too rare. Actually, I’d probably prefer a band write passionately about their love of Nazi-era Germany because at least it would provoke a conversation or debate or research, than the type of throwaway, juvenile lyrics about mutilating women and sodomizing nuns ever could.

Now, if people fear that a type of propaganda is infectious to the gullible masses, then more should be done to encourage critical thinking and debate amongst people. Bad ideas, bad logic, unphilosophical thought will get weeded out in debate in a way that quick censorship cannot promise. If anything, censorship only serves to aggravate and reinforce the opposing sides’ views and give whatever is being censored a kind of newfound power.

Regarding ideas such as freedom of speech/expression and tolerance: I think people should have the freedom to express any ideas whether they’re good or bad but shouldn’t expect other people to be tolerant of them; hence my view on debates over censorship. My criticism of leftist politics is that they preach tolerance yet hypocritically act intolerant to anyone who doesn’t agree with them; they accuse their opposition of being fascists and perpetual threats to freedom of expression whilst becoming exactly the fascist threat they claim to be saving the world from.

Political ideologies are becoming all too increasingly pathological and their neurotic tendrils have been spreading over absolutely everything. I cannot read a film or book review without being inundated with contemporary politics' revisionism and irrelevance to the artist, his intention, or to the content of the art itself at the time of its release.

I'm not condemning metal music as a whole, I'm just being honest about its consequences, which are both good and bad.

 

 

Several things come to mind.

The problem with "unlimited free expression in the marketplace of ideas" becomes a lot more clear if you look what else is going on in the USA right now. Here's an example: Sinclair Broadcast Group just published a piece making the claim that Dr. Fauci engineered the coronavirus. It's an unsupported, patently ridiculous claim made by a discredited source, but Sinclair owns a bunch of local TV stations across the country and they can do what they want. Meanwhile Breitbart ran an anti-mask piece claiming (again, against the evidence) that hydroxychloroquine is a cure. So now, instead of a reasoned debate between meaningful alternatives, we have to waste time and energy contending with absolute horseshit, with harmful consequences.

Why does this happen? Because they have the money to buy the reach, and there's profit to be made on perpetuating doubt, fear, and confusion. Why does it work? Because people aren't blank slates waiting around to be convinced by the most reasonable argument. They're a welter of opinions and prejudices, a lot of which they might not even be aware of, and they feel better when they can find things to back them up. I don't think any of us can claim to be free of that. The "marketplace" is full of garbage. Racism is a great example; it's completely unsupported by any real understanding of biology. The genetic differences that determine the variations in phenotype that we perceive as "race" are extremely small and they don't determine anything about a person's intellect, character, or potential. The fact that we human animals see them as important at all is interesting, and probably has something to teach us about ourselves. But that's not the conversation we're having, because we're still dealing with centuries of xenophobia and dehumanization. Those might be "natural" human tendencies but it doesn't make them productive or worth defending. If the "marketplace" was actually about reason and facts and letting the best argument win, racial prejudice would have died out a long time ago. Instead it's a pernicious problem causing real harm to real people daily. The notion that something so discredited and harmful still deserves a "fair hearing" is, in itself, an example of bias.

So when I see the metal world, as part of the larger culture (at least here in the USA) waking up to that more, I think it's great, and when I see songs with racist lyrics, I see them as propaganda helping to keep people in line with a harmful status quo. It's not about protecting anyone's virgin ears from bad ideas. It's about trying to change popular consciousness, so that when people do inevitably come into contact with these bad ideas, they'll be more conscious of their own prejudices and they won't find the bad ideas as soothing or compelling.

This idea that "the left" is a "fascist threat" is another great example of misinformation and misunderstanding, as well as being hyperbolic. Feel how you want about some show cancellations, people getting called out online, or bands getting dropped by their labels, but that doesn't come remotely close to constituting fascism, which is, among other things, a form of right-wing government. Leftist authoritarian government is shitty too, but it's not "fascist" by definition and it's not even close to happening here; fear of it is pretty marketable though, and is being stoked in the interest of manufacturing consent. A few leftists threaten violence and it's used to broad-brush everything this side of Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile a study comes out showing that exactly zero people have died in anti-fascist attacks during the same time period in which hundreds have died at the hands of right-wing political violence... and yet people still feel comfortable casually using "the left" as a boogeyman. Why does this work? Because decades of lack of education, nationalism, and partisan squabbling have untethered these concepts from meaning, for a lot of people, and left them applying labels willy-nilly for shallow rhetorical purposes. For examples of something a hell of a lot more like actual fascism, look at what the actual government is doing to actual citizens exercising their 1st Amendment rights in actual places around the country right now. It's my fond hope that people will see that for what it is and realize they've been sold a bill of goods. But I'm not holding my breath.

I want to thank you, sincerely, for at least having the respect to be explicit here. I agree with you that politics has become an ever more pervasive cultural infection over the last few decades. I can't help but see irony in your espousing that viewpoint though, in light of the several times here that you've dropped your own partisan political views into various threads apropos of nothing. You're honestly our most political regular poster, regardless of how veiled your posts generally are. It's one thing if something comes up in conversation and you can figure out how to make your point respectfully; it's entirely another to swoop in for some ax-grinding. In truly authoritarian fashion I'm going to ask you to leave that at the door. Regardless of our obviously vast differences in viewpoint I think you're a smart person with a good ear for music and generally you make valuable contributions. Let's leave it at that.

 

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4 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

 

Several things come to mind.

The problem with "unlimited free expression in the marketplace of ideas" becomes a lot more clear if you look what else is going on in the USA right now. Here's an example: Sinclair Broadcast Group just published a piece making the claim that Dr. Fauci engineered the coronavirus. It's an unsupported, patently ridiculous claim made by a discredited source, but Sinclair owns a bunch of local TV stations across the country and they can do what they want. Meanwhile Breitbart ran an anti-mask piece claiming (again, against the evidence) that hydroxychloroquine is a cure. So now, instead of a reasoned debate between meaningful alternatives, we have to waste time and energy contending with absolute horseshit, with harmful consequences.

Why does this happen? Because they have the money to buy the reach, and there's profit to be made on perpetuating doubt, fear, and confusion. Why does it work? Because people aren't blank slates waiting around to be convinced by the most reasonable argument. They're a welter of opinions and prejudices, a lot of which they might not even be aware of, and they feel better when they can find things to back them up. I don't think any of us can claim to be free of that. The "marketplace" is full of garbage. Racism is a great example; it's completely unsupported by any real understanding of biology. The genetic differences that determine the variations in phenotype that we perceive as "race" are extremely small and they don't determine anything about a person's intellect, character, or potential. The fact that we human animals see them as important at all is interesting, and probably has something to teach us about ourselves. But that's not the conversation we're having, because we're still dealing with centuries of xenophobia and dehumanization. Those might be "natural" human tendencies but it doesn't make them productive or worth defending. If the "marketplace" was actually about reason and facts and letting the best argument win, racial prejudice would have died out a long time ago. Instead it's a pernicious problem causing real harm to real people daily. The notion that something so discredited and harmful still deserves a "fair hearing" is, in itself, an example of bias.

So when I see the metal world, as part of the larger culture (at least here in the USA) waking up to that more, I think it's great, and when I see songs with racist lyrics, I see them as propaganda helping to keep people in line with a harmful status quo. It's not about protecting anyone's virgin ears from bad ideas. It's about trying to change popular consciousness, so that when people do inevitably come into contact with these bad ideas, they'll be more conscious of their own prejudices and they won't find the bad ideas as soothing or compelling.

This idea that "the left" is a "fascist threat" is another great example of misinformation and misunderstanding, as well as being hyperbolic. Feel how you want about some show cancellations, people getting called out online, or bands getting dropped by their labels, but that doesn't come remotely close to constituting fascism, which is, among other things, a form of right-wing government. Leftist authoritarian government is shitty too, but it's not "fascist" by definition and it's not even close to happening here; fear of it is pretty marketable though, and is being stoked in the interest of manufacturing consent. A few leftists threaten violence and it's used to broad-brush everything this side of Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile a study comes out showing that exactly zero people have died in anti-fascist attacks during the same time period in which hundreds have died at the hands of right-wing political violence... and yet people still feel comfortable casually using "the left" as a boogeyman. Why does this work? Because decades of lack of education, nationalism, and partisan squabbling have untethered these concepts from meaning, for a lot of people, and left them applying labels willy-nilly for shallow rhetorical purposes. For examples of something a hell of a lot more like actual fascism, look at what the actual government is doing to actual citizens exercising their 1st Amendment rights in actual places around the country right now. It's my fond hope that people will see that for what it is and realize they've been sold a bill of goods. But I'm not holding my breath.

I want to thank you, sincerely, for at least having the respect to be explicit here. I agree with you that politics has become an ever more pervasive cultural infection over the last few decades. I can't help but see irony in your espousing that viewpoint though, in light of the several times here that you've dropped your own partisan political views into various threads apropos of nothing. You're honestly our most political regular poster, regardless of how veiled your posts generally are. It's one thing if something comes up in conversation and you can figure out how to make your point respectfully; it's entirely another to swoop in for some ax-grinding. In truly authoritarian fashion I'm going to ask you to leave that at the door. Regardless of our obviously vast differences in viewpoint I think you're a smart person with a good ear for music and generally you make valuable contributions. Let's leave it at that.

 

I think I basically agree with you about the news. I don’t think any news sources are reliable anyways; in fact, I would argue that they’re just about ratings and their political pitch to viewers is not much different occupying a particular portion of market and then applying basic marketing practices. Of course, there are obvious disinformation campaigns, too, and these can serve to rope in people to make them look bad. But does Fox News really care about Trump? They certainly hated him in the beginning. Does CNN really care about Biden? I doubt it. But both sides will do whatever they need to do for ratings and to carry out whatever the exectutive narrative is. I don’t even watch the news as it tends to resemble a form of psychological trauma abuse than anything akin to the pursuit of truth.    

But what I’m talking about a major-scale public forum (televised or whatever) open to philosophical debate where the leaders of particular beliefs can discuss in respectable fashion their controversial-or-not views – exactly what the news isn’t about. There have been small examples of this idea and some televised debates and so on, but hardly anything of note that has engaged the public consciousness. I would argue that because there isn’t an outlet like this, that is precisely why bad ideas continue to exist. Generally speaking, peoples’ opinions are often founded on very little information that they’ve often mindlessly parroted from others. However, there is a significant part of the population that do not dogmatically adhere to party lines, are open-minded enough to listen to arguments and then decide or change existing views with better information. I don’t see how this could be any more dangerous than the echo chamber effect of today, and the pervasive divide-and-conquer strategy of divisive politics.
 

I personally don’t think the current Right are remotely fascist yet their beliefs are routinely called fascist for not being congruent with progressive thinking; this type of hyperbole is no different than me likening the Left’s totalitarian views to fascism, which is what I am mocking. I’m not literally suggesting they’re representing Mussolini or something any more than the Left is when they always talk about the perceived fascist threat of Trump or Putin or some unspecified phantom. Also, I’m sure you’d agree that saying Left and Right is simplifying things; anarchic vs totalitarian is another dimension added to the political spectrum. Fascism and communism actually have a lot in common and are really like two sides of the same coin – they aren’t polar opposites as some like to imagine, and both have had disastrous consequences each time they’ve been employed.  

I don’t think my posts are any more political than yours whatsoever, but perhaps you do not realize this. Besides, what may seem good-natured humanitarianism to you may just seem to others like good-intentions-bad-ideas that will result in worse consequences down the line especially when they’re drawn on party lines. But you’d have to see that sardonic humour is common to many of my posts, even those unpolitical. Any posts of mine that are political are typically a reaction to political posts or political sentiments within the metal community; a push back on an obvious hard-left pendulum swing that is the current trend in our day, because it really is a trend and it has begun to lose its momentum in the last couple of years or so anyways. Besides, I’d be doing the same thing if the Right was calling for the ban on everything.

 

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On 7/24/2020 at 3:29 PM, Vampyrique said:

It's apparently fine to write lyrics glorifying actions like rape and murder, brutalizing women including genital mutilation of women, necrophilia, anti-Christian anything... but just don't write some words about race, Nazis, Muslims or whatever flavour of the month that is trending on twitter. 

It's a double standard for sure.  As I think about this thread more, I am very much rethinking my previous comments.  The idea of meditating on or destressing though negativity seems extremely indecent in some cases.

Edit: did not notice the other long comments before posting!

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16 minutes ago, Balor said:

It's a double standard for sure.  As I think about this thread more, I am very much rethinking my previous comments.  The idea of meditating on or destressing though negativity seems extremely indecent in some cases.

Edit: did not notice the other long comments before posting!

Fair warning, that portion of the thread is probably getting split off into its own thing since it's so far off topic at this point.

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On 7/31/2020 at 1:03 PM, Balor said:

It's a double standard for sure.  As I think about this thread more, I am very much rethinking my previous comments.  The idea of meditating on or destressing though negativity seems extremely indecent in some cases.

Edit: did not notice the other long comments before posting!

In truth, it is, too; but let this talk glide.

It is our blood to err, tho' Hell gap'd loud:

Ladies know Lucifer fell, yet still are proud.

 

My tongue is out of office.

 

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