Will Mainstream Culture Ever End The Pedantic Reaction To Anything Metal?
It’s the age old argument, right? Mainstream ignores and/or shuns metal (unless Metallica is present) and at the same time many in the metal community would rather keep it that way. If metal is accepted by the mainstream with open arms we would all suddenly need to find another form of music to listen to, I guess.
I do not believe that metal accepted by the mainstream is entirely horrendous, since greater acceptance would recognize so many bands/musicians that deserve just as much as pop counterparts and open the doors for more releases and more tours, especially here in the U.S. It would also further validate those of us who spend our lifetimes promoting the scene. “Mainstreaming of metal” does not necessarily have to mean that the music turns commercial.
However, I live under no delusions that broad sweeping acceptance as a form of relevant musical art will ever come true, and I’ve accepted the situation for what it is. With that said, it still pisses me off when the two clash with the obvious tired and repetitious reactions. Case in point: the video of little six year old Aaralyn, who appeared on the NBC talent show “America’s Got Talent,” with her brother Izzy to perform the original song “Zombie Skin.” Check it out here:
I can deal with the song and whether it “fits the mold of metal” and that the judges most likely let them through because it is a “cute girl who we feel bad for if we don’t.” However, it’s the reaction of the judges, namely Mel B and Heidi Klum that I find disturbing at best.
Heidi Klum reacts: “I’m really confused, you are so cute and sweet and when you open your mouth, I was like wow. And I want to meet you parents…are they there? What is going on in your house….What is going on?”
Mel B reacts: “Scary Spice is officially scared. That’s it.”
Seriously? It isn’t at all possible to bring your sweet innocent child up in a household full of “negative metal music”? This reaction says to me that parents who do so should have their morality and values questioned immediately, because this cannot possibly be the kind of “family values” that our children should be adapting. Apparently, as soon as a style of music deviates from safe confines of local church or Top 40 or the Country Music Awards, your child is no longer safe. And for what? A kid growling into a microphone, the song named “Zombie Skin” or both.
I get it….why is this so surprising? Who cares, it’s just a stupid TV show and it doesn’t affect our community, right? However, it is exactly this mentality that causes much of the “normal public” to adopt that age old “kill your mother, kill your father” reaction when the term “metal” is merely mentioned. The media expounds on the musical tastes of criminals, needlessly analyzed as a cause for behavior that leads to crimes.
Back in high school, I was a kid who was split between two social circles: “the metalheads” and “the smart nerds.” I was an “honors student” who hung out with the “lowly metalheads.” Not only was I drawn to the music, but it was a group that cared about each other and didn’t judge on appearance or academia. I never looked the part of a metalhead and teachers who saw me hanging out with “them” took it upon themselves to question my choices of friends with my parents….and for what? I still knew right from wrong and I never experimented with drugs or killed a person. Hell, I didn't drink until 28. But alas, with metal's might I obtained a college degree, obtained a good job, got married....bought a house. Isn't that what mainstream dictates that I do? So....it is possible.
In 2013, I can only imagine that the recent string of school related shootings have put so many on edge, that scrutiny levels of children are three times as high as my childhood days. After all, a look must lead to mass killings and chaotic behavior. It has to…it fits the profile.
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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