Linkin Park & Me
If you’ve ever gotten to know me, you know that I’m a Linkin Park fan. Like a really, really, REALLY big Linkin Park fan. I’ve never been one to stan too hard over anything, but I’m a Linkin Park stan. For a long time, Linkin Park has been more than just a favorite band, they’ve been a crucial part of my identity since I was thirteen.
I don’t remember when exactly I first heard of Linkin Park. It was at the end of the seventh grade. The name intrigued me, but I wasn’t really into heavy metal. I remember seeing the video for “One Step Closer” on the wall of TVS at Wet Seal, and being shocked at how much I liked it. Then summer came along. I was watching MTV during a stretch of videos in the middle of the day, and the video for “Crawling” came on. I sat with my jaw open throughout the whole thing. It was utterly rapturous. Beautiful. The most incredible thing I had ever, ever, ever heard.
At the time, the biggest music act in the world around me was Britney Spears, whose hyper-sexualized little girl act revolted me (the older, more mature well-versed in feminism me still finds the act revolting, but with a more nuanced understanding of female sexuality and the male gaze). With the notion ingrained in my head that being a typical teenage girl meant tiny clothing, suggestive lyrics, and lots of belly-wiggling and hip thrusting, being a “freak” was a refuge. I wasn’t here to shake my ass and coyly tell the world that I was a virgin. I was a chubby girl who was never going to look like Britney, and being a “freak” was how I asserted that I had more to offer than just sexy flesh.
I got emo glasses that were just like Chester’s, thick black, rectangular glasses that I’ve worn ever since. I bought a new wardrobe at Hot Topic. I hung out with a bunch of other “freaks” who adored Linkin Park. On the morning of 9/11, I remember having an argument with my friends over what happened in the “Crawling” video. I listened to Hybrid Theory on the bus ride home every day. I listened to it falling asleep. I made my first serious attempt at writing something.
That’s the other part of my identity, I’m a writer. A writer and a Linkin Park fan, those are the two intractable parts of who I am and who I want to be that stays the same through everything and around which everything else is built. Everything, every poem, every blog post, every novel, every script, EVERYTHING, I write with the intention of being as good as Linkin Park’s music is. That’s always been my highest ambition, to write something that makes someone else feel like I feel when I listen to Linkin Park. I don’t know if I’ve achieved that goal yet, but I still want to.
I’ve struggled with teen angst, ADD, and depression, and Linkin Park helped give voice to all of that. In a vast, dark sea of love songs, sex songs, and songs about money, drugs, and riches, songs about emotions and experiences rife with darkness was something I could relate to. I sometimes joke about today’s pop music’s lack of angst, “What do kids these days listen to when they want to *feel* something?”
I always wanted to meet Chester Bennington, but, now I’ll have to accept the fact that I never will. It fucking hurts. But I can still say what I’d hoped to say to him: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For being so unique, for writing such incredible music, for being in my life. From the deepest part of my soul, thank you for existing.