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"Its number is six hundred and sixty six"

Posted by Tim on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | View Comments (292)

There was an interesting documentary on the TV last night about the making of Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast album (classic British heavy metal at its finest, for those that don't know).

The reaction of large groups of Americans to this album when it came out (1982) was not quite what I'd have expected - they didn't burn the records (as they did with Beatles albums after John Lennon stated that the band were "bigger than Jesus") - they smashed them up. Burning them would have released the fumes of the devil.

I never know whether to laugh or cry when I see this sort of thing going on (I nearly spat the mouthful of tea I was busy choking on all over my TV when I heard about the "devil's fumes" bit). What point are these people making - and who to? And where did they get all the records? Did they actually go out and buy them just so that they could smash them up? Surely they didn't steal them!?

I also find all this strange culturally. As far as I am aware, it just doesn't happen in the UK. Small groups of fundamentalists try to make a big fuss about the supposed decline of moral standards - and they generally get ridiculed. The Daily Mail comes up with headlines like "Ban this Sick Filth!" but is only read by bigoted middle aged conservatives. But mass burnings of "offensive materials" in the streets? I've never seen it. Maybe we're too reserved (or just laid back).

I really do wonder why America is so full of Christian fundamentalists.