After some browsing on Wikipedia and Google Video, I came across this great documentary that i remember seeing on tv when i was a kid. ‘Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest’ is about exactly that, the infamous trial in which heavy metal band ‘Judas Priest’ was accused of inserting subliminal messages into their music. Here’s the synopsis:
“Just before Christmas, 1985, 19-year-old James Vance watched his best friend Ray Belknap shoot himself to death with a .12 gauge shotgun in a churchyard outside Reno, Nevada. Then Vance pulled the trigger on himself. He survived but was severely disfigured. Vance later claimed his actions had been influenced by the heavy metal music of Judas Priest, prompting his family to sue the band. The drama of the ensuing trial provides the framework for David Van Taylor’s disturbing look at teenagers today.”
This was a pretty huge case. The prosecution claimed that the song “Better by You, Better Than Me” had contained subliminal messages. When played backwards, the words ‘do it’ could be heard multiple times throughout the song. In response, lead singer Rob Halford took the stand and asked the question “Well…do what? Mow the lawn? Have a cup of tea?” I remember seeing James Vance on an episode of Maury Povich and couldn’t even look at him. This was also around the time that Geraldo was doing his prime-time specials on the increasing numbers of Satan worshippers in America. What a weird time. I highly recommind you head over to Google Video and check out this film. They’ve posted it in its entirety. Also, while you’re at it check out my ‘Five Films’ for this week. The theme…Heavy Metal!