By now, the rage over #metalgate has subsided as #shirtgate, #gamergate and #metalgate converge on a single movement that spans many genres: opposition to the censor police who, using political correctness as an excuse, have invaded multiple genres with mediocre options while declaring them enlightened. They have used this indirect invasion to take over media and public discussion, crowding out the better music and games for more propaganda.
The point made in these pages is that the invasion of terrible hybrid-metal bands — simply boring, pointless, pretentious and of no relevance to a normal life — into metal has come about as a result of the SJW journalist invasion that #metalgate spoke of. SJWs, hipsters and scenesters are basically the same thing. They find a new genre, exclaim how unenlightened it is, and then bring into it the same stuff they do everywhere else, making that genre as boring as their origins. These people are lost, without purpose, and desperate for any attempt to draw attention to themselves. When they take over, they all promote each other and talk about each others’ bands, websites and labels until they cloud the skies of that genre and most information about it involves the hipster agenda.
What I suggest today is <slight> action. That means that we do the simplest and least amount of work for the greatest effect. We know who the SJWs are and where they are writing articles. It’s time we exclude these people from the metal scene. That does not mean attack them, but to simply use other news sources, listen to other bands, and avoid their self-promoting circular masturbatory motion. Here’s a short list of sites that have supported SJWs:
These are the invaders who are trying to destroy metal music and turn it into indie/hardcore so it can be “safe.” If you support these with your band, your own reading, or your advertising, you are helping to turn metal into the latest version of hipster indie rock with the “safe” opinions that metal has always rebelled against.
How we shut them out is the same method used to keep Christians and neo-Nazis out of metal: say “that’s a political site/band/label” and imply that you won’t deal with them because of the resulting shady and manipulative associations. Pretend you found out that the Vatican, North Korea, Scientology, Monsanto, al-Qaeda, the Ku Klux Klan or Jesse Jackson were running a website and how you would react to that, and then apply it here.
You probably don’t yet know this, but it’s ideological warfare out there. “Politics” no longer exists in the realm of voting and reading the Editorial page only. It is now part of every aspect of life, and the movement is only accelerating. This occurs because the people in our society are divided by what type of future society they want to be moving toward creating.
Some say this is accelerated by the collapse of the USA as a superpower and with it, the notion that the “American formula” of capitalism, the welfare state, democracy, consumerism and media power is no longer seen as a universal good. Instead it may be about to join the other failed ideologies — Communism, Nazism, Anarchism, and undoubtedly others — in the dustbin of history. Being on the cusp of such vast change naturally makes most people nervous, and so the masses are forming into mobs and squaring off against one another.
One of the big stories on your talking screen right now is The Interview. Apparently Hollywood — which never colludes with popular opinion in looking for bad guys who will not offend certain traditionally offended groups, like American Indians, the Chinese, and Arab Muslims — made a movie about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Il Jung. A group of hackers claiming to be from the DPRK have hacked into Sony studios, revealing in the process that upper leadership is almost entirely white and male, but are also threatening theaters that show this film. Many theaters have out of fear pulled it from their marquees. This is how you get things done in the age of ideological bullying: shut your opponents down, and call them fascists, all while enforcing some “fascism” of your own on their point of view.
Reaction to #metalgate has been mixed. SJWs first tried to deny it, then blamed the gaming community, and finally have fallen back on their try-hard die-hard standard of calling #metalgate supporters “fascists.” But today, #metalgate scored its first victory. The video game Hatred — developed in Poland by a group of metalheads — instigated controversy early on and, thanks to whining by SJWs who called it a “genocide simulator,” was removed from video game clearinghouse (like a cross between Google’s App Store and Amazon) Steam. But today, Hatred is back on Steam thanks to a grass-roots campaign by #gamergate and #metalgate supporters. You can see how this political warfare operates: the goal is to get the sellers to stop carrying certain games and music, which reminds me of the bad old days of the 1980s when Tipper Gore and her crazy friends tried to get heavy metal albums out of stores and barring that, required they have little stickers put on them saying that they had bad lyrics and Satan.
In the world of Social Justice Warriors, when a white person “twerks” it’s cultural appropriation (because within their infantilizing view of blacks, Africans have a proud tradition of shaking their asses until they clap), while a female African American playing heavy metal is just a good “you go girl!” moment. This is, incredibly, both hilarious and infuriating at the same time, since while nobody has ever said that Derrick Green should leave Sepultura because he’s black, commentators, and even performers, demand whites leave jazz, rap and hip hop alone. Thankfully, those defenseless minorities can count with the Social Justice Warriors carrying the White Man’s Burden.
It would be ironic if “anti-racism” became another form of racism, one that rewards minorities for behaving in the way that their white overlords — er, social justice friends — want them to. But then again, it might not be out of character. After all, Eric Gardner was restrained by NYPD for the crime of selling single cigarettes. New York also made 24-ounce sodas illegal. Once upon a time, they made alcohol illegal, too. The motivation behind the “social justice warriors” of every age is the same: they have found a cause to which you cannot object without appearing to endorse its converse. There is no response to “Are you an anti-Nazi?” or “Are you a witch?” except an enthusiastic Yes! because otherwise you seem to be saying that you think Nazis and witches are just great, fine, peachy-keen. This condition is almost impossible to parody, as the Tyranny of Tradition folks explored with an article that made its points indirectly:
All I want is to not be told what to do by outsiders because they got their feelings hurt a few times growing up. People want me to speak in a way that is politically correct, but what about how I feel? What about who I am? Why do I have to be the one that pretends?
When our world is seen in a literal binary of “good” versus “evil,” we are the ones caught in the middle. We can become pawns for one side or the other, but insanity will win because politics has invaded normal life. The SJWs trying to take over metal have lost their legitimacy because metalheads have called them out on it, and the more they deny, obfuscate and outright lie, the more it becomes clear that we caught the real “fascists” with their hands in the cookie jar. They have lost legitimacy not just for their attempt to control us, but for their frankly boring and pointless imitation of all those old post-hardcore albums in metalized form. Metal deserves better, and seeing these pretentious gits kicked to the curb does us all a world of good.
As #metalgate rages on on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr, the people who are trying to force these views on metal are defending themselves by claiming that #metalgate doesn’t exist or is insignificant. The truth is that this agenda has been advancing for some time and it has a dirty secret.
The dirty secret of the “SJW” agenda in metal is that it is totally unnecessary. Despite my own sympathies with many of the ideas they hope to achieve, like better treatment of human beings, I suspect most of these people are just poseurs. They are adopting certain viewpoints that they think are necessary to get ahead socially. Nothing makes a person feel more powerful than to be able to call someone else ignorant and selfish, while (in their own minds) looking superior, intelligent and altruistic. Especially if you are coming from behind and feeling ashamed about your family origins or stature in life, it can make you feel like a god to have moral right on your side and to look much more advanced than those around you. This is just another shade of the broken social life in the modern world coming home to visit metal and use metal for its own ends.
But even more, these “helpful” demands from SJWs are totally unnecessary. This is metal, where if you can create the music, you can join in the fun. We have always had something better than feminism with women being present and respected in Nuclear Death, Mythic and Bolt Thrower. People of color have always been here in Thin Lizzy, Suffocation, Blasphemy and Mystifier. Metal bands come from all over the world and from every tribe, culture and religion imaginable. We tend not to mark a little box each time someone who is non-heterosexual, non-white and/or non-male joins our ranks, but they are there and always have been. In metal, there is no need for a crusade for equality because we already have it. Even better, we have done so without turning that into a crusade against those who are heterosexual, white and/or male. We just accept people as they are.
But my ultimate problem with #metalgate is that it’s entirely manufactured. No one, or no group, is banding together to try and change metal in any one specific way — the threat is entirely imagined. Certain social values enter the metalsphere simply because those values are spreading throughout society as a whole — this idea that “SJWs” failed with #gamergate so they’re now moving on to a different cause is total bologna. They’re entirely separate people!
Personally, I enjoy what Vince Neilstein writes but don’t read it that often, mainly because I don’t visit sites with ironic names that censor out the word “fuck” for reasons unknown. But while I think he’s normally on point, here he confuses a few things. First “those values are spreading throughout society as a whole” means society outside of metal is adopting these values, and now wants metal to bow down and conform. He’s basically taking a pro-#metalgate point of view there but I’m not sure he intended two. Second, he assumes that the people involved in resisting the SJW incursion are #gamergate people, when actually it’s people like myself in metal who are not from either side of the political spectrum. We hate politics in our music, metal has already addressed this issue, and we don’t want to follow the herd in whatever flavor-of-the-month the iconoclastic hipsters behind the SJW fad think is important.
Metal has never been about doing what everyone else is doing but it has also never been about being “ironic” and trying to be different so hard that we act randomly. Metal is its own law and has its own culture. From outside of that culture, as Neilstein writes, people are trying to push conformist social values on us. The best “activism” for all of us who love metal is to push back against that dominant paradigm and go our own way instead.
#MetalGate exposes human behavior at its most basic level. When someone stands up and refuses to go along with the herd, most people fear that person. S/he is refusing to endorse the same behavior that everyone else engages in, which makes them look like they may be wrong. Even worse, this person has found a way of life which may even be better. This freaks them out and so they attack.
If you went to an American high school, you are familiar with the two types of iconoclasts. The first do everything they can to make sure that you know they are an iconoclast: they wear hats, dress oddly, listen to “edgy” music and give the finger to authority — usually some 64.5 year old security guard — whenever they can. The other type are quietly iconoclastic by cutting out of their lives all the time-wasting stuff other people do so that they can focus on what they want to do. In this group, you find many of the artists, top students, athletes, musicians and other honestly interesting people. The first group tries to be this, but never can be.
Heavy metal has always been the interesting kid. It does not need to shout its iconoclasm from the rooftops because when you throw the music on your stereo (or cell phone mp3 player) you can immediately sense that something different is going on here. It does not sound like regular rock music, the 31 flavors and 50 shades of which normal people listen to. This is music that has gone beyond what others are willing to tolerate, and it echoes this idea in its lyrics and imagery. People fear death, disease, warfare, the occult, conflict and evil, so metal sings about these things. It reveals to us everything that we would rather deny, including — especially — the apocalyptic and dystopian factors that point out that our society is over-ripe and likely heading for a fall and decay. Heavy metal is like the person at a cocktail party who will not take the hint and keeps asking about your upcoming corruption trial even though it is rude, unsociable and impolite to do so.
When a true (but quiet) iconoclast stands up, all the fake iconoclasts immediately want to take that person down. S/he makes them look bad in comparison because they are clearly people acting like iconoclasts, not actual iconoclasts. As many people have noticed through the years, there is no bigger group of sheep than those who insist they are not like the other sheep. An actual iconoclast does not need to tell you that he’s different; he just does what he does, and that difference becomes clear. There is also one more thing he possesses, on top of difference, which is direction. He is not different to be different. He’s different because he has a plan, an agenda and a purpose, where everyone else is just dressing up in weird clothes to try desperately to be “cool” (itself an ultra-sheep concept).
Over the years, many groups have tried to take over metal. In the 1980s the Church felt threatened by heavy metal and so sponsored a form of contemporary worship music known as “Christian metal” which imitated heavy metal bands, but had Christian lyrics. It never felt right as metal and so never caught on with anyone but those who were already Christian. Christian metal peaked in the mainstream with Stryper, whose Amy Grant style take on Motley Crue made fodder for endless jokes but also a fair number of album sales before the band vanished into well-deserved obscurity. The feeling among Christians was that since heavy metal was evil, Christians needed to make a “safe” version of that evil music so they could enjoy it too. The media ate it up, too, because it was ironic just like the high school iconoclasts. Christian metal was the equivalent of wearing a fedora and suit vest over jeans and a Hawaiian shirt while talking about the blue energy fields.
The problem with this agenda shared between the Christian establishment and the media establishment had two heads: the music wasn’t very good, and these two groups were obvious outsiders. They tried to solve this by getting Christian bands to play alongside regular metal bands, but this did not end well as most metalheads recognized this intrusion for what it was. No matter how many times the Christian bands said “See, we’re one of you!” and the big newspapers referred to them as heavy metal bands who coincidentally just happened to be Christian, metalheads did not buy it. Christian metal fizzled after some time. Other groups tried to achieve entry in the same way, including far-right groups, vegans and anti-drug crusaders, but all slipped by the wayside from failure to be accepted. The simple reason for this is that allowing metal to be assimilated to become a voice for someone else’s agenda violates the basic idea of metal itself:
If I could distill metal into a single phrase, it would be this: metal is the musical equivalent of the word “FUCK” aimed at society.
This is why the SJW’s will never win. Their “victory,” if such a thing is possible, would be Pyrrhic. It would destroy metal. It would turn metal into pop rock, and metal is the violent musical reaction against pop rock.
With #MetalGate, what happened was that in the late 1990s a ground of ex-hardcore people decided they wanted to make metal “safe” by having it bleat out their doctrine. Their viewpoint was popular among the new group of hipsters and other iconoclasts who filled American cities. This group created a new type of metal, a hybrid between death metal and post-hardcore and sometimes indie rock, and declared themselves the new underground. To be part of this new underground, you had to have the “right” opinions. The old underground nearly universally rejected them on musical grounds, since the new hybrid metal was both random and highly resembled old, burnt-out 1980s genres. But that did not stop these people from recruiting a new group of fans and trying to edge out the older underground types. They also had media support; most of them worked in media or knew people who did. New labels, magazines, and web sites popped up to sign these new bands who brought in a new audience not of metalheads but ex-hardcore kids. Like people fleeing a big polluted city only to move to a smaller city and make it big and polluted, they jumped ship looking for something unruined to ruin.
In other words, this is Christian metal all over again. They want to make metal “safe” by insisting that we talk about life in the way they have defined it, which is a series of “issues” much like Christian metal wanted to talk about morality when metal wanted to write about war. They have media support and want to use that to drown out other voices so that only they have control. Personally, I doubt they even believe the stream of stuff they write lyrics about, but like the fake iconoclasts from high school, just want to sound “educated” so they can be superior to the rest of us unwashed, uneducated, and simple-minded metalheads. Christian metal took the same attitude which was that we were simply ignorant sinners who needed to “receive” the good news of the Bible. Like Christian metal, “SJW metal” is failing and that is why certain media personalities are trying so hard to make us accept it. #MetalGate is the first pushback against the Stryper of the 21st century, and it’s making them so mad they are scrambling all hands to put out denials.
I had hoped that the busload of squalling drama that was #GamerGate (see here: pro | con) would not come to metal, but #metalgate has arrived courtesy of the same people who intruded into the gaming industry despite a striking lack of actual contributions:
Metal is still dogged by the issues that arise from its deep-seated conservative values, but thanks to an increase in conversations about racism, politics, and feminism, those on the right side of history have gained solid ground. – SPIN
Before we get involved in this partisan squabble, consider that metal is beyond the left-right divide. The left wants individualism through equality, and the right wants individualism through lack of social obligation. Neither recognize that societies, like metal genres, are organic entities where more is required than individualism; we need cooperation.
It is easy to see however why someone might want to — as writers have in the past — call heavy metal conservative. Metal avoids “social issues” and other internal questions of a society and instead looks at the health of a society as a whole, or in other words, how sane it is. We see a world gone insane through a refusal to pay attention to reality. The methods of that are beyond an artistic genre and should be injected into it, but since 2006 at least trying to reform metal has been a pet project of certain groups:
More than three decades after Black Sabbath conjured images of the dark arts, heavy metal is growing up. The genre is increasingly incorporating social and political messages into its dense power chords.
Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan said his San Diego band’s mix of charging guitars and an animal rights message is drawing a diverse crowd that includes activists as well as traditional metal fans. – The Washington Post
The grim fact is that metal has split into two groups. When the newer group encountered the older group, they were appalled that it did not share their opinions, not just on politics but how to live. This new group is inherently “social” and they share opinions which make their friends feel warm and fuzzy about them. That is at odds with the older metal tradition of not caring what society thought, telling the hard truth, and being obligated to no one because most people are crazy.
It is only when you get involved in a managerial role with society, like a kindergarten teacher insisting that we all play nice together, that you care at all about making sure that everyone is included. Metal does not. Metal looks at society from the view of history and whether it is healthy or diseased from within. The metalhead view is consistently anti-managerial, since metalheads recognize the deficiencies of people and want to keep most of them at a great distance. It is not that we want to manage them, like political people do, but that we want to be free of them.
For years people have tried to make metal more sociable. They first tried in the mid-1970s when they mixed Black Sabbath with Led Zeppelin and produced hard rock, hoping that they could sell it to more people. “Sociable” sells. Then they tried in the 1980s with rap/rock, funk metal and other abominations. Finally they hit on nu-metal but that turned into an extended conversation about the impact of child molestation. And then, during the early 2000s, they rolled out a metal/hardcore fusion that had sociable lyrics like hardcore punk has for many years.
Notice that none of this was brought on by metalheads. It was created by people who wanted to be metalheads, but felt they could not be metalheads unless the genre agreed with their existing social, political and lifestyle biases. At this point, the metal community has entirely split between those who like the old school and those who want to be “nu-skool.” This is because they are two separate genres. Metal is metal, and the indie-metal/metalcore wave is someone else trying to use us for their agenda. #MetalGate is just the latest salvo in this fight.
Currently the gaming world struggles with something called “GamerGate,” which involves two groups of fans. There are those who want gaming to be more socially responsible, and those who want it to be more like 4chan.
Heavy metal fans have been targets for scorn and derision for decades. The metal community is supposed to be a place where misfits and outcasts can find shelter in the face of that intolerance. When you throw around bigoted slurs, whether you know it or not, you’re eroding the community we’re all supposed to be a part of. More importantly, you’re reinforcing the prejudices of every mouth-breathing homophobe within ear or eye shot, and you’re very possibly harming another human being for no reason. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to call someone a fa* or describe something you don’t like as gay. Hopefully you’ll think twice about the language you use in the future. But if you still don’t care, please do everyone a favor and keep your stupid comments to yourself.
Personally, I wish to fall into neither camps. The first camp wants to offend no one and make sure that humanity all gets along so that heavy metal can be accepted by mainstream society. The second camp wants to keep us as perpetual outsiders, which is fine, but they want to do so by appealing to the lowest denominator among us. I have a problem with that, too, because it seems to me that being the opposite of a wrong thing is often to make a different version of that wrong on the level of method and not goal. Or rather, by removing an actual goal, you create a lack of goal, into which method fills the gap.
That’s a subtle argument. It also takes some subtlety to understand why the offend-no-one argument is wrong. At a gut level, we are metalheads: we do not stand for speech codes, social morality and being nice to people. We specialize in saying thing as we find them and if that offends someone, too bad. We also are some of the last defenders of a way of life outside of society, where you can think what you want and say what you want and not care what other people think you should think. Someone else really nailed the biggest reason for avoiding the Nanny People: they are a lynch mob, witch hunt, high school bully, and nagging aunt all wrapped up into one, and what they do is create destruction and conformity in their wake:
A moral panic doesn’t have any relation to reason. It’s a mob expression of rage against an issue that threatens the social order, usually relating to the violation of some cultural taboo. There exists a long American tradition of moral panics, from Prohibition in the 1920s, to the Red Scare of the 1950s, and most egregiously the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. People were jailed and lives ruined over obviously false accusations made by children trying to please psychiatrists and other adult authority figures.
You can see there is a range of opinion about this. I pitch an unusual idea to you today: do not take a side. Do not join the Louts and do not join the Nannies. Instead, trust nature. There has always been a diversity of opinion within metal ranging from the anarchist to the totalitarian and back again. People are going to have their own opinions and they will not get along. There is no “we.” Metal is a refutation of the idea that we can all get along. Trying to make us all get along will create more problems than it solves and might also foster a nasty backlash that will turn metal into a permanently alienated battleground.