"some music was meant to stay underground..."

OpEd

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.

CROMCarl's avatar

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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25 Comments on "Typical Reactions When Mainstream And Metal Clash"

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cbella's avatar

Member

1. cbella writes:

That was painful watching that clip!!!

These generic, insipid shows are not aimed at the thinking population and so what do we expect as a result? The producer spoon feeds the viewer the opinion and emotion they want them to feel through clever editing, background music etc. I can not watch any of these TV 'talent' shows.

Regarding metal and mainstream's relationship - some countries (e.g. Finland) have a very different dynamic. Metal is so popular and is widely accepted by the masses! Nobody is vilified for their choice in music (or how vulgar their favourite band's shirt is). I think America is a little further behind the curve than some other places and so it misunderstands metal more.

Nice article!

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 5:06 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
CROMCarl's avatar

Writer / Reviewer

2. CROMCarl writes:

Absolutely agreed. I should have pointed out that this definitely was written from an American point of view, however, its a given considering the video...ahah

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 5:11 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
americanpatriot1's avatar

Member

3. americanpatriot1 writes:

CROM: I remember Metal Maniacs reviewing your fanzine all the time. Guess I never really put the two together until now.

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 5:50 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
CROMCarl's avatar

Writer / Reviewer

4. CROMCarl writes:

Awesome!!! Thanks for that...that made my day.

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 6:20 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar

Member

5. brandedcfh420 writes:

I miss Metal Maniacs. Great fkn magazine!!!

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 6:37 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

6. BrianMN writes:

Metal Maniacs was also my mag....till Pit and Terrorizer came along....
Anyway...
Scary Spice+Heidi (who?)+American reality= Who gives a fvck what they think?

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 6:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
TheIronMan's avatar

Member

7. TheIronMan writes:

Heidi Klum and Scary Spice are just dumb hoes who are incapable of deep thought, waiting to be plowed by their rich suitors. Though I don't give a f*** about their opinion, it still hurts to see people be so... appalled... by the music we listen to. Music is an artform, and metal is not excluded from this.

"Normal" people judging metal music in a negative way is the equivalent of somebody walking into a museum and applauding the Mona Lisa but wrinkling their nose at an unknown and obscure abstract art piece and begging for the curator to take it down and burn it. This is known as ignorance and is something that sadly the American populace exhibits all too often to something that differs from the "status quo" that has been established.

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 7:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

8. Cynic writes:

I wrote stories about monsters and zombies when I was young, younger than this kid and turned out fine (in my humble opinion). Her voice is awesome, can't wait for her band to make it big in ~12 years.

# Jun 26, 2013 @ 9:57 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. quixoticon writes:

I can't be surprised anymore that someone can be appalled by metal. We are a people that cannot resist the sensational or the sensationally bizarre... Stories of bats having their heads bitten off tend to polarize those on the outside of the discourse community.
The fact is, metal is really really difficult to play. In my experience, an overwhelming portion metal listeners can play an instrument. I don't expect this can apply to any other genre. I think this gives insiders a unique perspective that can't be explained to someone who can't make music. We cater to an elite audience.

The kids' band is Murp. With only a few exceptions, their songs are straight up avant garde 'happenings'. They work very hard and love to make music.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 1:20 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
NW_MetalHead's avatar

Member

10. NW_MetalHead writes:

I'm not surprised by the judges reaction, it is the typical reaction a lot of us receive. If its not what you hear on the radio, you can't like it. To me its the patronizing attitude by them that was disrespectful. In addition, I hate it when little kids like that are thrust upon the stage, they are not equipped to handle potential disappointment on that level

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 1:51 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
11. Vicentiu Garbacea writes:

Good job Carl! This article should spark some debate and hopefully bring some justice to all the people who choose to be independent and think for themselves like these two wonderful kids. I am really full of hope that this new generation will change our world forever. They are so pure, independent and brave that nothing can stop them. They believe in themselves yet they are so sensitive and you could see on the face of Aaralyn how she took a 'no'. Here's another pair of great kids http://vimeo.com/68177758#. I myself took some time until I came to appreciate metal fully. Metal music and culture have a certain barrier that one have to be brave to pass to discover a wonderful world of art and creativity that speaks about the evil. And I think is that that scares most of people who are scared of themselves like poor Mel B. Metal is a form of positive exorcism I would say, in the way that it deals with emotions and speaks about the negative ones, the sorrow, the anger and so on but also transforms them in strength and courage and is not by chance that many people feel empowered by it and they relate to it very personally in their day to day lives like me and you and lots of other people.
To conclude I am really full of hope that more and more people will choose to be free and use metal as a means for it.

Cheers,

Vince

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 2:05 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
12. A bunker writes:

Coming from 2 judges who shouldnt be questioning anyone..
Klum who banging seal for a while to only cheat on him with her bodyguard and scary spice who was knocked up by eddie murphy and had a kid out of wedlock..
Fvck these 2 hounds, put them both in a rocketship and set the destination for pluto.
Idiots.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 3:29 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
americanpatriot1's avatar

Member

13. americanpatriot1 writes:

Speaking for myself, I'm quite comfortable with the notion of my metalness being somewhat off-putting. I enjoy the fact that I get judged and then delicately destroy preconceived notions after people talk to me and realize that I'm not a knuckle-dragging mouth breather. We are judged in this life regardless of what we listen to, wear, live etc. I've been listening to metal since I was 15, I'm now 37, and have never killed anyone, skinned animals, (other than in the hunter/gatherer way), worshipped the Devil, or any other ridiculous stereotype. What also puts a smile on my face is when I can show people how truly open minded most metal heads are. Sure, you have some that are anti-everything else about music, but those folks tend to be young. It's always funny when you are listening to something heavy and scathing, people roll their eyes, then have a completely different reaction when you start singing along to George Strait or Tupac. One guy I was deployed with was blown away that, of my Top 5 favorite songs, none were metal. He was amazed that I would choose Learning to Fly over Raining Blood, or Nights in White Satin over Blessed Are The Sick. When it comes to my metalness, I don't really look the part. I don't wear metal shirts or particularly enjoy going to concerts. I can't stand when people go out of their way to look metal. The emo/goth/black look irritates the sh** out of me, and I hope my children never embrace that look. I prefer to let my intellect guide peoples interpretations of me.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 11:17 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
14. Reggie writes:

I heard that "kill your mother, kill your father" thing so many times growing up. When I was stationed in Europe I found metal to be much more accepted in mainstream than most places in the United States. I am very suprised with Klum and Spice Girl chick because they are from Europe. Sure they have heard Scorpions and Iron Maiden at some point in their lives. They must know metal exists. Anyway, as an American, I have accepted that we will never "fit in" unless you (we) live in a big city where melting pots of people don't really care what the other is doing...like San Francisco. When people find out I listen to metal i get the "YOU listen to metal?" As if it was like I had an incurable disease. It's ok because when I feel a need to fit in to society they way I want to, i just go to a show where no one questions anything except what shows I have been to. No one asks what I do for a living or how much money I make or whether I own real estate. It's all about the metal! I hope this brother/sister duo grow up to be the death metal version of Halestorm. Good luck to them.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 1:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
15. Oscar writes:

Mel B and Heidi K would have been happy if the kids were playing along a bizarre Lady Gaga track instead.
Ignorance speaks out loud on them.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 1:44 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar

Member

16. Drum_Junkie writes:

I think it is a double edged sword that we have to come to expect.
On one hand, there is the desire to be accepted for who you are, and the disappointment that comes with the reality that the world largely processes information based on stereotypes. On the other hand, almost all of the subgenres of metal self-identify by purposefully being outside the norm. As a result, most fans also take some pleasure in being different and ‘non-mainstream’.
It’s hard to have it both ways.
If what we want is for Metal to be accepted (especially in the US), then a large education effort needs to be undertaken. And it would need to come from within, as we obviously can’t rely on any ‘outsiders’ to champion our cause. This Herculean task would involve combatting every act that damages the credibility of Metal as an art form. We would need counter the damage with examples that support the skill, thought and passion that goes into this beloved treasure we call Metal. For every Mustaine rant, Nickelback album, and Steel Panther double entendre, people need to hear the gifts of Epica, Devin Townsend, Gojira, Death (RIP), Dio (RIP), Obscura, etc. Counter every dumb-assed metal remark with something intelligent.
If we want Metal to be accepted, then we must show that it is acceptable and worthy of respect.
If not, then proudly fly your metal salute with one hand while hoisting the middle finger with the other.
Few people can really walk the middle of the road.
I was a lot like CROMCarl, in that I took honors classes in High school, yet hung out with the smokers and thugs. I was the only kid in my AP Chemistry class that wore a Sepultura T-shirt. I didn’t drink until well into college, but associated outside of classes with those ‘dregs’ who shared my love of aggressive music. Often times, I was in the presence of illegal mind-altering substances. But I kept my grades up, graduated with my Mechanical Engineering degree, got married, had kids, yadda yadda. Am I the typical metalhead? Hardly. And that’s part of what makes it hard to define a stereotype for us. Our diversity. I’m also pretty certain that there’s more to those kids than that one short performance, as well.
As far as the judges themselves, I’d take them with a grain of salt. If anything, they further the perception that pop culture is vacuous, ignorant and intolerant. How much value are their opinions, really? Not much in my book. Heidi Klum and Miss Spice are hardly the cream of the crop – musically, intellectually, morally or otherwise. I care about as much of their opinion of those kids’ performance as I care what my dogs want for dinner. So, I’ll wrap this long diatribe up with another question. IF we want metal to be accepted, who do we want to accept it?

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 4:10 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

17. BrianMN writes:

I’ve always looked at it from a much simpler standpoint (go figure lol)
It’s not that metal is too outside the norm.
Some forms of music sell millions no matter how offensive.
Like………….RAP.
It’s really as simple as this.
The US record industry has always demonized metal and rock no matter how much it sells.
You can have Sabbath do the first album with Ozzy in over 30 years and you don’t hear a peep.
And yet, little Doggy Tag Woof Woof (my own made up name thank you) who is eleven years old and sells ten copies of a demo ends up on the 10pm news as the next rap prodigy.
The industry has decided to push rap, hip hop, etc…no matter how offensive and ignore metal.
If they did push metal, it would be popular but they don’t.
I think it really is that simple.
As for me?
I grew up the typical Beavis and Butthead kid.
I got lucky and fell into the accounting business and found out I was pretty good at it.
I had my heart set on being a painter but oops….they don’t make any money unless they’ve been dead a few hundred years so that got ruled out fairly quickly despite being accepted into multiple schools.
Unless you have the right contacts, much like Hollywood or the music business….you’re not going to make it unless you get incredibly lucky.
As for metal…..does anyone remember when metal WAS accepted?
I believe that was the 80’s and we got treated to a horde of Ratt, Crue clones.
Same with the 90’s.
The 2000’s saw metal get more and more extreme so there was never the explosion of the previous decades.
It’s helped weed out a lot of the crap that got played back then but the public’s exposure has been greatly diminished…and maybe that’s for the best. (?)
Do you really want your parents singing “Satan Spawn, The Caco Daemon”???
As for Scary being…scared….GOOD.
That’s exactly what death metal was supposed to do.
I find it scary that those auto tuned, talentless hacks ever got a contract to begin with but like I said…the industry pushed and pushed and the sheep buy it right up.
So, there you have it.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 4:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar

Member

18. Drum_Junkie writes:

Another take on this is that Aaralyn didn't fit the stereotype of a 6 year old girl. THAT could be what scared the spice lady - not her voice itself, but that it didn't fit into her idea of what a little girl SHOULD sounds like. She didn't conform to someone elses ideals.

The general public (at least in the US) doesn't want to be challenged or to be made to think. They want songs/products/politicians that reinforce their values and tell them what they already know so they can agree mindlessly. The judges on those shows aren't much different. They want something that can be pigoenholed into a tight little box, packaged for easy consumption and sold to as many people as possible. The judges don't want to actually think about the skills or talent presented. They're looking only at the package, and if it doesn't come wrapped up nice and tidy with a little bow on top, they can't handle it.

Young Aaralyn didn't conform and that's what makes her metal!

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 5:07 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

19. spiral_architect writes:

METAL IS MY COMFORT ZONE. IT'S RAP THAT SCARES ME!

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 5:23 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

20. BrianMN writes:

Drum Junkie, you just summed it up perfectly.

# Jun 27, 2013 @ 6:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
21. sara rozz writes:

americanpatriot1 so you don't like concerts and no metal song is part of your top favorite song list? well i guess you are not a metalhead then, just someone that likes some metal music. it's okay to listen to other music besides metal, but you seem to like other music more than metal..

You said that when someone dresses metal/goth that irritates the sh** out of you..well who are you to tell others how to dress? what if i told you that most people that dress metal/goth do it because it makes them happy and not to look different? (the adult ones at least)

sure you don't need to look metal to be a metalhead, but many people enjoy the look, so why not? should they stop dressing in a way that makes them happy just to please others? just so others won't judge them? sorry but people will judge you no matter what, might as well do what you want. i know many adult goths and metalheads that already have kids, still dress how they want, still have lots of fun, and that doesn't stop them from having an intellect, and from being great parents, but then again.. i live in Europe.. that's normal here.

# Jun 29, 2013 @ 11:23 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

Member

22. R10 writes:

Some good points made by DJ and Brian mn. I actually got a kick out of the video and the reaction from the "talent judges" mainly the model and the spice girl. A couple of people posted this video on my fb wall the day after this show, and said this should be my kid. Im used to getting grief from friends and co workers about metal, so im pretty used to these types of reactions. Doesn't bother me a bit.

# Jun 29, 2013 @ 11:51 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Dasher10's avatar

Writer/Reviewer

23. Dasher10 writes:

Who cares what Scary Spice and Heidi Fliess think about metal anyway?

# Jun 29, 2013 @ 1:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
americanpatriot1's avatar

Member

24. americanpatriot1 writes:

Oh I'm sorry Sara, I didn't realize I needed to run my opinions by you for your approval. I'm sure in your 14 years of life you have undoubtedly had way more metal experiences than me. My opinions are my own and your opinions of me mean absolutely f*** all. How metal is that? I think your mom just called you to dinner. Have you finished cleaning your room yet?

# Jul 1, 2013 @ 12:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
ScrewTheMan's avatar

Member

25. ScrewTheMan writes:

In my opinion, metalheads are some of the most intelligent people I've ever met. As a metalhead myself, I can say that no majority opinion or overrated celebrity could keep me away from the music I love.

# Jul 14, 2013 @ 4:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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