He ain't just heavy he's a masters student
13 November 2004
As Dave Snell sits on an old wooden bench, dressed in a black Marilyn Manson T-shirt, slightly unshaved and wearing dark glasses, he assures us he is not a violent thug or a weird loner.
He looks the part of a heavy metal music listener though and indeed he is.
But, the 24-year-old is also a Waikato University masters student researching why people listen to heavy metal and trying to change the perception society has of him and his peers.
"A lot of us have got into the scene (heavy metal) as a reaction to something that has happened in our lives. They may be having trouble at home or fighting oppression. It really helped me when I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 15. It was a way of venting my frustration," he said.
The Metallica fan said heavy metal also enabled people to make friendships and develop a sense of community around the music.
"It really bugs me that it comes under such criticism. Others think that people who listen to heavy metal are uneducated or bums. From my own experience people within the scene place a great deal of value on being part of that (heavy metal) group."
Dave, who would like to study for a postgraduate diploma in community psychology, has had different reactions from people about his research.
"People in the heavy metal scene are ecstatic about it, and people in the psychology department at the university are really supportive. Others outside of the university think it's a bit of a joke or look down their nose at it."
"We're stereotyped as being angry and violent, but it's just the way people interpret the lyrics. People tend to take very literal translations but you have to know about the band and when the song was written. Context plays a big part. But the more people know about the scene and understand it, the better," he said.
He hoped to complete his thesis on heavy metal next year.http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3095052a11,00.html