A Blerd’s Eulogy to Chester Bennington

By:  H.T.

As of the day of this being written, Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park passed away at 41 by suicide.  Chester, and in turn his band Linkin Park, were instrumental in the childhood of many young people during the band’s heyday.  By all accounts of the fans, Linkin Park’s first two albums, Hybrid Theory & Meteora are considered pop classics of their time.  I can even remember buying Meteora off the strength of the anime-style video “breaking the habit” which many made the misconception of it being about Chester’s struggle with addiction.

But perhaps the biggest reason their music gained popularity so fast amongst black nerds was because of anime music videos, or AMVs.  AMVs were so ubiquitous because due to Windows XP coming with Movie Maker (or you happened to have Sony vegas), kids would take pirated episodes of their favorite anime (read: DBZ usually) and splice it up to sync with whatever song they chose.  More often than not, the Linkin Park song chosen as Papercut or In The End but none the less, AMVs became free ads for their music.  Eventually, Linkin Park would be known everywhere when they did a mashup album with Jay Z that took their biggest hits and blended them together, making instant classics.

For people like me, the heyday was viewed via the paradigm of being black and a nerd.  Linkin Park’s music spoke to blerds because many of us feel like outcasts as were considered too black to be accepted in predominantly white spaces and too white to fit into spaces that tend to deem us “nigga nerds”, combine this with some of us struggling with depression or other mental illnesses, and Linkin Park was the perfect soundtrack to growing up in the early 2000s.

Chester Bennington was a hero to weird kids like me that needed something to listen to that wasn’t exactly like what everyone listened to, but could make you friends.  Chester’s death is a loss as many of us who were fans can remember that in the darkest days of our youth, Chester sang away our pain and let us know that the world was okay.  I truly believe that if anything could have kept Chester from taking his life, I think if he could have just somehow known how many people he touched, that he healed, that he changed with his voice, maybe he’d still be here today.  In the end, much like with Robin Williams, my generation must say goodbye to someone who brought us joy but took it away by their hand.  At times, I too thought of going the route Chester took, but he gave me the strength to go on.  So, thank you Mr Bennington for all that you brought us.

“Flying at the speed of light
Thoughts we’re spinning in my head
So many things were left unsaid
It’s hard to let you go” — Linkin Park, Waiting For The End

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