Tuesday, May 6, 2014
More on Metal and Identity
In a prior posting on here, I go into detail about some of my disagreements with the Heavy Metal scene that I have. To go into more detail, I can say at this time in my life, I no longer want to associate myself with any label or classification. I probably am closest to a "metalhead" that one can be identified with, yet rather not be bound by any arbitary term such as that. I don't like being put in a box, though I unfortunately work in one every day (for now anyway). I have recently reflected on how I perceived myself and others in the past, and I would not tend to agree a lot of things my younger self believed in now. For one, I cannot fully get on board with the Metal scene now, even as I play metal music, because of the lot of the things I negatively associate with it that are true. For example, growing up, a lot of the kids who bullied me were actually, get this, metalheads! At least until hip hop and rap took over their lives, metal was a music for a lot of people on the "wrong side of the tracks" (and no I'm not referencing that silly Biohazard song lol). The kids who used to ride their BMX bikes, and would hock "loogeys" in the wind, only to have their mucus end up in their (proverbial) faces in the end. Many of my friends and I though, were into the music for more than just because it was fashionable among outcasts. We got into the music, the lyrics, the image, everything, while others just used it as a soundtrack to their dysfunctional lives. When the tide started to change, many if not most of these kids got into gangsta rap and other forms of music, while me and the friends stuck by metal through thick and thin. But me and these same people, as adults, would not identify ourselves with just one movement or subculture. We are multi-faceted and many of these friends even branched out far from metal, while still retaining the love of it simultaneously. But I can reflect also on my own prejudices, and my justifications now in my younger days, and I see it inextriably linked to my dogmatic instistence on following the diehard metalhead cliche. For one thing though, even as a kid, I was not labelled as a skid or "hesher" (derogatory term for metalhead), or at least in the normal sense of the word. One person even referred to me at one time as a "weird hesher". I identify with this now more than ever, not because I neccesarily know what they had meant by this, but because I feel that this identifies me more because even if I am "in" the metal scene, I am also an outsider within it as well. For one thing, a lot of these "alternative" subcultures attract aspects that I have never identified with, or things that I no longer identify with. One such aspect is drug and alcohol abuse. Without sounding like I am stereotyping a subculture, or that I'm one step away from being some PMRC figure, I do know that in the hard rock, metal, rock scene or whatever, drugs and alcohol are quite common. One can only look at the idea of "Alcoholica" and its association with "Metallica". After all, the term "sex drugs and rock and roll" isn't for naught. Growing up with some of the worst examples of drug and alcohol abuse around me made me not only fear abuse of substances, but also feel extremely repulsed by them (I will go into this more in a later blog). It has been a struggle not to be judgemental of those who abuse substances in such a way that it effects their day to day functioning. Its hard to be in a band where its members are so high that you can't get them to buckle down on getting musical decisions done, or to motivate players who are too exhausted from being wasted on beer all the time to practice sections of your music, as examples. Its a wonder any band has ever made, but perhaps a lot of them are "functioning" addicts and alcoholics. Not to mention the general misanthropy and negativity that permeates a lot of the metal scene. And also the elitism that presents itself, like an ugly sore that struts itself as a type of false bravado. False bravado that used to be my calling card when someone "misunderstood" or hated metal music, and put me into this state with my self perceived high horse. The abyss of failure that I was in living in my younger years was not a result of metal music itself, but by my identifying with its subculture to an extent that it was a catalyst for many of the flaws I couldn't see within myself at the time. I never "grew out of metal" but I grew out of the negative aspects of identifying with it exclusively. And this is something I am actually proud of, because while it can also seem like a "high horse" to be sitting upon, its also a different perspective. One which has me judging people as individuals and overall have a more positive outlook on life. Its not perfected (yet) but I feel this was an important development as I got older, to become more than this perceived idea, more than this cartoonish cliche of this obsessive negative metalhead guy I was in my younger days. Metal can be an escape, a catharsis, but it should have never been an excuse for me. My own neurosises and scapegoats got tied into this identity that I once had. I still love the positive aspects of metal culture, and I always will, but I am more than it. And as far as the substance abuse, I guess I am more like the members of Iron Maiden or Rush, or others who have forsaken the idea that for one to be in or into rock and roll one has to be wasted all the time. If this makes me sound sanctimonious, so be it. I am not adverse to a drag off a certain herb or a few beers from time to time, but think that abusing anything (except mochas) feels like a waste of time to me. Especially looking back at the negative, and abusive people who were around me growing up, and some of them dying from their own self abuse.