Metal rules! The on-line participation of young metal fans in the deliberative rituals and public debates that constitute the global metal (post) subcultural scene

Brown, A.R (2005) Metal rules! The on-line participation of young metal fans in the deliberative rituals and public debates that constitute the global metal (post) subcultural scene. In: Young People and New Technologies Conference - BSA Youth Study Group, 7 - 9 September 2005, University College, Northampton, UK.

Abstract

This paper takes the form of a preliminary report on my current research into global metal music fandom. Formative accounts of heavy metal (Straw 1983) characterised its youthful followers as white, suburban males who consumed the music as an accompaniment to hetro-sexist peer group formation. The masculinist identities sustained in this activity were inimical to the ‘nerdy’ preoccupations, characteristic of fandom or subcultural social networks. This view of metal as a reactionary ‘malestream’ culture (McRobbie and Frith 1978; Hebdige 1979; Frith 1981; Chambers 1985) was eventually contested by studies that claimed it as a ‘blue-collar’ subculture (Weinstein 1991; 2000) and as a ‘dominant genre’ in American popular music (Walser 1993) with widespread, cross-gender appeal. Recent accounts bear witness to the demise of the ‘platinum triangle’ (Laing 1997) upon which the Atlantic hegemony of the musical genre was sustained and the concomitant formation of a global ‘extreme music’ underground, made from its fragments and margins (Harris 2000). This view of ‘glocal’ subcultural music scenes, as organisationally ‘resistant’ to the commercial and institutional imperatives of the discredited term ‘heavy metal’, is made despite the recent emergence of a Nu-mainstream of metal styles, that have accommodated themselves to rap, hip-hop and pop-gothic styles. It is my contention that young metal music fans are some of the most active users and participants on the world-wide-web. The Metal Rules! Project investigates three dimensions of this activity: (a) that metal fans, whatever their stripe, believe their musical tastes are superior to all others; (b) that these distinctions and taste-claims operate on the contested borders of metal and other forms of popular music but also within the category of metal itself; (c) that despite these fierce and (often macho) displays of partisanship to sub-genre styles and scenes, global metal fans understand themselves to be part of a wider community of allegiance to what is simply called: ‘metal’. This category involves not only a range of contemporary musical style but also a sense of historical continuity and ‘origins’ (as well as the annex of other styles (punk, grunge, goth) into the style gallery). It is my argument that this deliberative on-line community is a popular example of public youth culture as it is manifest in the 00s. It is not perfect (sexist/gendered language-values persist) or wholly democratic (the Net is US dominated) or free from contradictions of value/perspective, but it is active and it is happening! The paper also reports the methods being employed to investigate this on-line youth cultural participation in the global metal subcultural scene: electronic questionnaire, interviews and web site survey and participation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Note:

Aims of the Paper:
How useful are the concepts of (post) subculture and scene in understanding the potential/actual proliferation of a deliberative metal youth culture on the WWW?
How does the novice or initiate find their way into such a global metal culture and what does this tell us about the basis and coherence of such a youth culture?
Ultimately, what is the deliberative content of this media youth culture and to what extent does its basis in a commodified experience inhibit or facilitate global community?

Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 14:14
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2020 14:14
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