Slipknot, Motivational Speaking and Oxford University Students

06/09/2011 2:51 PM |



You remember motivational speaking. Sitting in a middle school auditorium, alternately clenching your butt cheeks out of boredom while someone onstage shared his or her story of amazing humanity/success in the face of adversity, then tried to relate that story to your befuddled, pubescent self. I don’t remember much of these speeches, although they probably would have been very inspiring if my angsty brain was even capable of absorbing messages of positivity at the time. However, I wonder if this particular message resonated with its audience of Oxford University students—the one where iconic heavy metal band Slipknot’s Corey Taylor told the highly-educated future leaders of the world that they should give up on their lofty dreams and instead focus on what they’re actually good at, as The New York Times reports.

The article doesn’t really go into depth about Taylor’s message at the Oxford Union, the hall of Oxford University’s debating society, yesterday. Rather, it focuses on his appearance (“a T-shirt featuring Keith Richards”) and the fact that he’s had a history of bodily abuse—one where the screaming, masked frontman used to go Robofrying (or robotripping, as some connoisseurs refer to the act of drinking a bottle of Robitussin and hallucinating). And one can almost picture the reporter sitting in the audience, rubbing a pen under her nose and snickering as she notes, “and he spoke in actual complete sentences.” But the idea of having a world-weary metal head talking to the clean, pristine soon-to-be elite is an interesting one, and probably something that should happen much more often.

“Just he fact that people requested this is baffling,” Taylor noted in an interview that took place before his speech. “I mean, this will probably be the most time that someone has used the F-word on these grounds, to these people. You need to know what you’re in for. I gotta be honest. This is fucking hilarious.”

So, in a very real sense, it seems like a meeting of this nature momentarily eliminated the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the privileged and those who have had a tougher time of it. Maybe that was the first time for many in the audience that they had heard someone telling them to focus on the practical, to focus on what makes them tangibly happy, busy and fulfilled. And maybe it temporarily alleviated some pressure about having to save the world with an Oxford degree. Of course, this is all conjecture. Maybe half the people in the audience were hardcore Slipknot fans, and the other half were desperately trying to stay awake by working those glutes.