A cockroach preserved in amber: the significance of class in critics representations of heavy metal music and its fans

Brown, A.R and Griffin, C (2009) A cockroach preserved in amber: the significance of class in critics representations of heavy metal music and its fans. In: BSA Annual Conference: The Challenge of Global Social Inquiry, 16 -18 April 2009, Cardiff, UK.

Abstract

In this paper we engage with new cultural theories of class that have identified media representations of ‘excessive’ white heterosexual working class femininity as a ‘constitutive limit’ of incorporation into dominant (middle class) modes of neo-liberal subjectivity (Skeggs, 2007), and Bourdieu’s thesis that classification is a form of symbolic violence that constitutes both the classifier and the classified (Bourdieu, 1986). We explore the implications of such arguments for those modes of white working class masculinity that are critically disparaged but continue to reproduce themselves in forms of overtly-masculinist popular culture. Our focus is on the constitution of white working class heterosexual masculinity as a reviled Other in contemporary music criticism that focuses on the genre of Heavy Metal music. We present a systematic discourse analysis of over 1000 items of commentary and review, featured in the pages of the New Musical Express (1999 –2007), a paper historically identified with the ideals of the counter culture and erstwhile champion of punk, which now offers leadership of musical tastes in an increasingly segmented, niche oriented marketplace. We examine representations of Heavy Metal music, fans and bands, exploring how attributes and forms of personhood are attached to working class male bodies, tastes and practices that allow a distinction to be drawn between a middle class liberal intelligentsia who possess taste and an animalistic mass who appear to lack it.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 17:22
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2020 17:22
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