Metal Heads and Heavy Metal Culture - What's the Deal?
Music Means Family
For most people, a metal concert is just that, a concert; but for those people who feel like that those people are their family and those cigarette-butt littered cement pads are their home, it’s something a little more than that. Most people know what a mosh pit is, or have at least heard of one. Its sounds like a scarily brutal place, with all the pushing, shoving, fists, shoulders, beer, and smoke set to music with a fast tempo and scary lyrics. What’s even worse is that all the Satan worshiping drug addicts who all should be locked up are walking around in the open. To those people who call that home they know none of that is true. A mosh pit might as well be a disco dance floor and those crazy creepy people are brothers and sisters, not by blood, but by something that they all relate to. And that is their music. Their music brings them together. Their music makes them all brothers and sisters. A mosh pit is just friends listening to music and dancing how they want to dance. So why are these things perceived so differently between people in that sub culture and everyone else? Through my project I plan to delve into the reasons why people see those who listen to metal differently, some of the stereotypes associated with those people, whether or not they are true, and finally, I plan to examine why this subculture feels they are viewed differently than anyone else.
Why the Stereotypes?
Why do people view people who listen to metal differently? Whether you admit it or not, if you hear someone blaring metal out of their car you automatically think of some of the stereotypes associated with those types of people.But why are they viewed that way? Well I asked Alex V. why he thought there were stereotypes. He replied, “People don’t always understand when they aren’t a part of it, but people who are bonded together very closely...almost like brothers.” (V, Alex.) The reasons I believe this are as follows:
1.People hear the music and automatically assume they are aggressive and violent, as the music is fast paced and aggressive, but the music is just energetic and fun to listen to.Does that mean every person who listens to rap like to smack bitches and sell drugs? Does every person who listens to country have marital problems that they solve by drinking alcohol and driving their favorite pick-up truck? Sometimes it does mean that, but generally it doesn't.
2.People who listen to metal like to dress and act like they do. They wear a lot of black and metal to express how they feel outwardly, and people have to deal with it how they will. Clothes are a way to express yourself, and that is how they want to express how they feel on their inside. Just because their shirts show skeletons and gory images doesn't mean they are murderers and psychopaths, just people who enjoy that type of music, and it makes them feel cool because they can relate to other people wearing those types of clothing.
I have already listed a few stereotypes already, but there are even more.People assume most people who listen to metal loathe, or have no respect for, religion as a whole. Some of them even assume they are Satanists. I do know of people who listen to metal and have a strong faith for their religion, there are even Christian metal bands that play and I know lots of people that listen to them. Most people who aren’t part of the metal subculture also believe that people who listen to metal are violent and aggressive. I know for a fact at every metal concert I’ve been to people are extremely nice and friendly. In a mosh pit where people push and shove everyone to the pace of the music, if anyone falls down everyone stops and helps to pick them up, nobody wants anyone to get hurt as they don’t want to get hurt themselves . According to my interview with Alex V., he agrees.He said that he is a Christian and he believes in God.He also had a few of the same observations as me from being at concerts.He said that everyone is very friendly and nobody wants to start a fight.He said that everyone has an aggressive appearance but it’s only because of the music, not because that’s how they feel on the inside. Nobody at a concert wants to be punched in the face or kicked in the leg, everyone just wants to have fun and enjoy the music and everyone else who enjoys it. He also feels there are stereotypes that people who listen to metal worship Satan and practice weird rituals.He said that, “There are probably some people who do, but most of us don’t.” He said that most of his friends listen to metal and everyone is similar to him.None of them are goat sacrificing devil worshipers.He is a Christian, believes in God, and follows the Bible.He doesn’t feel like everyone is dissimilar from him.Most people at concerts just put on a tough persona because the music is aggressive music.It’s energetic and fun.Nobody is there because the music has underlying meanings and satanic overtones. They are there to enjoy music for the sake of music. They just want to have fun and be free for a while.
Finally, I feel that kids who listen to metal are viewed differently than people who listen to other music, but why? Is it because they express themselves through their clothes or how they act? Is it strictly because of the music they listen to? Is it something else completely? I feel that if someone walking down the street wearing a ton of leather and metal studded wrist bands, chains on their baggy pants, and a lot of black are seen as someone who doesn’t fit in socially. They are just normal people like everyone else; they just express themselves through what they wear, what they listen to, and how they act a little differently. They wear black because it’s probably what they want to wear. Just because someone is wearing a black shirt with scary things on it doesn’t mean anything. It’s probably either a shirt from their favorite band or even just a souvenir t-shirt from a concert they went to (Weinstein 30).It could even be it’s just what makes them comfortable and they feel that’s what they look best in.If someone else’s opinion is different who cares? Clothes are all about expressing yourself, and they are doing just that .The majority of metal kids express themselves through their clothes, because if they don’t wear their tour shirts or baggy pants how will people identify that they enjoy doing what they are doing?
People who listen to metal are just people. They go to work and school just like everyone else and act like normal people. We enjoy the same things everyone else does. Some of us practice religion and some of us don’t. Just like everyday normal people. If you yell, “Slipknot rules!” into a crowd of normal looking people someone will yell back, “Hell yeah!” and they will probably look like someone you would see on the street and not think twice about. They shouldn’t be stereotyped into different groups and things that they don’t really fit into. I feel that I have thoroughly covered why people view people who listen to metal differently and why they really shouldn’t, some of the true and untrue stereotypes of those people, and finally, why I feel they are stereotyped. If you ever see a concert on T.V. that looks and sounds like its violent, it really isn’t. It’s just a family of people getting together and enjoying the one thing that draws them all together, their music. If you take anything away from this paper, I hope that it is that people in the metal sub-culture are just that, people. They are fun loving, sports playing, bike riding, food eating, and church-attending people. Their music bonds them together as a group, and some people just can’t understand that.
V, Alex. Personal interview. 20 Sept. 2009.
Weinstein, Deena.Heavy metal: the music and its culture.. Da Capo Press, 2000.
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