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Nine Inch Nails fans launch attack on HomeLife magazine

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Fans of the alternative rock band “Nine Inch Nails” have made the Southern Baptist family magazine “HomeLife” a cyberspace target in response to a critical review of the band’s most recent musical recording.

The fans’ e-mails include a two-word profane response from “Trent,” sent from Nothing Records, the recording studio owned by Trent Reznor, the group’s lead singer and primary lyricist.

The e-mail messages started when the band’s official Internet site at Nothing Records published the magazine’s e-mail address on Jan. 18. Some 100 e-mail letters, many laced with profanities, have been received at HomeLife’s offices since Jan. 19.

HomeLife, which carries features, news and information for Christian families, is published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The complaints stemmed from a review of the new Nine Inch Nails album, “Fragile,” that appeared in a “Media Play” column by Bob DeMoss. The review appears in the February edition of HomeLife. DeMoss, a regular contributor to the publication, is a freelance writer who focuses on youth issues.

In his review of “Fragile,” the band’s first release in four years, DeMoss wrote that Reznor “uncorks chaos and despair for another generation.”

HomeLife editor Jon Kent Walker, in a prepared statement, said the reactions from Nine Inch Nails fans “show how influential music is in our culture, which is why we comment on it every month through Bob DeMoss’ Media Play column.

“It’s obvious Reznor has touched the depths of their souls,” Walker said of the rock group’s fans. “Some of them even called him a god, but as good as Reznor is, he won’t be able to prevent his listeners from eventually needing more than him and his music. They will continue to search. Let’s pray the search leads them to the one true God.”

This was not Reznor’s first appearance in HomeLife. In 1997, Reznor was the focus of a HomeLife prayer artist profile. In that article, readers were encouraged to pray for the singer.

“There’s no question God gave Trent Reznor tremendous musical talent,” Walker said. “There is a question whether Trent Reznor believes in the God who gave him the talent. He often admits he’s on a search for meaning, and that’s why in September 1997 we asked HomeLife readers to pray for him.”

Reznor, 34, who once fostered a relationship with Marilyn Manson, has a huge following among teenagers.

Reznor was on tour with Nine Inch Nails in Asia and unavailable for comment on the controversy.

Susan Swann, a spokesperson for Nothing Records, told Baptist Press she could neither confirm nor deny whether Reznor had sent an obscene e-mail to HomeLife. “I really feel uncomfortable talking about this matter,” she said. Swann also could not confirm any studio involvement with the e-mail targeting of HomeLife. However, an examination of the Nothing Records website revealed the Home Life article in its entirety, including the magazine’s e-mail address.

The letters accused the magazine of being everything from judgmental to hypocritical.

Walker, in his statement, said, “We in no way meant this as a personal attack upon Trent Reznor; rather this is a simple clash of worldviews. Some of Reznor’s fans, in writing us, assumed we hated him and them. That simply is not the case. Many of their letters expressed, in one way or another, that the church is no longer a safe place for them to bring their pain and heartache. As Christians, we should hear that message, even if it’s wrapped in profanity. Reznor and his fans are not the enemy, and we should be less interested in winning debate points than in winning souls.”

HomeLife had a responsibility to review Nine Inch Nails’ recording, Walker also said. “We reviewed the album in order to alert our readers about some of its content. We recognize that Reznor and his band are a major influence in rock music and that many young people, including many Christians, listen to them. Since we are a magazine shaped to serve Christian families, we think it would be negligent of us not to point out our concerns with the popular culture of today.

“Reznor has the constitutional right to express himself artistically; we have the constitutional right to express a concern to our readership. Then our readers can make a decision on their own as to whether they want to buy the Nine Inch Nails album,” Walker said in his statement.

DeMoss, meanwhile, said the vulgarities used in the letters from Nine Inch Nails fans affirm his position that Christian teenagers, or any teenagers for that matter, should not listen to the group. “I stand by what I wrote,” DeMoss said. “I actually thought I was gracious compared to what I could have said.

“What’s interesting to me is that many of these letters were written by young people who obviously attend church and have a deep affection for a band that I’m confident their parents would not want them listening to,” he added. “Parents are in denial that their kids listen to this stuff.”

DeMoss, saying he hasn’t seen this much response from one of his columns, cited a concern about the spiritual condition of the protesters. “I’ve seen this type of sentiment for years,” DeMoss said. “Much of it threatens me or tells me to engage in obscene activity. What we have here is a pack mentality. One reader posts it on the Internet and then it becomes a free-for-all.”

At least one letter on the Nine Inch Nails website supported the HomeLife review. “I used to be a Nine Inch Nails fan and I was intrigued by his music and lyrics,” said an 18-year-old from Houston. “I have since learned that he is just like every other unbeliever. He’s got a giant hole in his soul that he wants to fill so badly.”
A Nine Inch Nails’ fan from Australia who identified himself as a Christian, however, elaborated his offense at the HomeLife review, saying he had found comfort in the group’s music after his father died of cancer. “I found that Nine Inch Nails really got across better what I was feeling. Unfortunately, being a Christian person, there seems to be a real taboo about talking in such a way about life and death,” the Australian fan wrote.

Reznor’s lyrics are deep and brooding, filled with profanity and derogatory references to God. In “Fragile,” DeMoss observed, Reznor’s view of God provides a clue as to the source of his inner turmoil.

Reznor writes, “The clouds will part and the sky cracks open/and God himself will reach his … arm through/just to push you down/just to hold you down.”

Both Walker and DeMoss said they would attempt to respond to as many of the letters as possible in a spirit of love.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes