The Different Stereotypes for Metalheads in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, a Documentary by Sam Dunn

Metalheads (fans of the musical genre metal) has been, and still is, portrayed as satanic, death-glorifying, and violent in media since the beginning of the metal genre. These portrayals have been caused by different news stories of rape. murder. and suicide where the criminal (or victim in the suicide case) is said to have listened to metal music, usually the sub-genre “black metal,” and blame the genre’s lyrics and singer of sounding demonic. encouraging people to commit crimes of rape.

theft, murder. and Anarchism, and that the fast and dark sound of the instruments helps drive people to actually commit these crimes. Some of the defining features (appearance-wise) for metalheads are usually tattoos or pieces of clothing with upsiderdown crosses, a pentagram. or any occultresc symbol, and could also be an album cover which shows decapitation, mutilations, and other extreme acts of violence. As I’ve stated before, the reason these stereotypes have risen is because of news reports where the criminal is reported to have listened to metal music, and the ones who stick to this stereotype is usually parenting groups that think metal is too violent for teenagers and religious people who are either offended by the lyrics or cover art of albums of different metal bands or those who don’t know about the metal scene and just hop on the bandwagon.

The film that I’ve chosen is, “Metal: A Headbanger‘s Journey,” documentary about the origin, the sound, the fans. the culture, and everything else metal related with interviews with famous metal bands like Slipknot, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister, and more.

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The film goes on about many of the different stereotype in the metal fan group. One of the first ones mentioned was the death and violence stereotype. This stereotype is said to be caused by the violent and often gory cover arts for albums and the lyrics that describe grotesque mutilations. For the cover art it’s suppose to be seen as art, bus not in anything of real deep meaning, butjust art as itself, even though it is brutal. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (the lead singer for the death metal band Cannibal Corpse) compares some of the brutal album cover to the Vatican’s paintings and that the Vatican’s paintings are of things that really could happen to you in real life, while cover art for theirs and other death metal albums are mostly things of fantasy that could never happen. In the lyrics’ perspective. Sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris says “There’s this fascination with the possibility of death in the body, on the other hand there’s this terrifying fear of it.

There‘s an almost obsessive desire to explore that which is dangerous, that which is scary, that which points towards obliteration, tormlessness, a delight in exploring the body in its ways of being cut-up, destroy, mutilated. that’s a very primal desire that we all have”. The stereotype for metalheads being satanic goes back into the first era of metal with Slayer and Black Sabbath. When Black Sabbath began they used to sing about how Satan was something to be afraid of in a Christian mindset, but the fans wanted more of a satanic band, pressure became too much. and they changed from a Christian mindset to more of a Satanism mindset.  Slayer’s lyrics directly attacked Christianity, a good example being the song ”Cult,” with lyrics like “The pestilence of Jesus Christ, there never was a sacrifice, no man upon the crucifix. Beware the cult of purity, and infectious imbecility. I‘ve made my choice. 666!” But most of the musicians that write these lyrics don’t truly believe in what they sing. it’s just more of an added imagery to the band and the songs Though another things that people connect metal and Satanism with is the Norwegian Black Metal bands, specifically the 50+ church arsons that took place in 1992 to 1996, and these arsons were committed by people like Varg Vikernes, who is a musician and writer for the band Burzum, Samoth, the guitarist of the band Emperor, and Jam Inge Tunsberg, guitarist of the band Hades Almighty.

Though this group is small, a lot of the metal community gets backlash for these acts, and that these kinds of things are not a part of the people of metal, but more of a personal and/or political matter in Norway’s society. I think the audience this movie was intended for was those who did not really know anything about metal and/or metal culture and for those who wanted to know more about it. and for those who have stereotyped metal and metalheads alike, and this movie does a good job at showing those people what really being a metalhead and what real metal is all about since, like I said before, this movie talks about basically all things metal. The reason I think they chose to present themselves the way they did was to show people the flak that metal has and still gets because of what it is, and the fun that can be had when you’re a metalhead (going to the metal festival Wacken, being in the crowd with hundreds of people who like the same band as you, etc.) The movie implicates that metalheads are not satanic (again, unless that is their religion), non-violent, and people that are in a huge family of fellow outcasts who all listen to the genre and subegenres of metal, What I think the film missed was how metalheads affect society whether positively or negatively.

The things that are acceptable within the metalhead community is that any metal genre or sub-genre is acceptable to be part of the metal “family” and that you’re free to be yourselt You can represent you’re favorite metal band even if it‘s not the band that’s playing at a concert you’re going to, it doesn’t matter whatever religious beliefs you have or what background you came from or what age you are. the only thing that really matters is that you listen to and really like metal, and that you’re respectable and nice to your fellow metalheads. Some of the things that are not acceptable though is pretending to be a metalhead (looking the part and saying that you are a metalhead, but don’t like the genre at all), verbally bashing other bands or even a different metal genre or sub-genre because you don’t really like the sound, lyrics, etc, Like I’ve said before, society has the idea that metalheads are violent or aggressive, devil worshippers, and absolutely crazy in general, even though those things aren‘t necessarily true.

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The Different Stereotypes for Metalheads in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, a Documentary by Sam Dunn. (2022, Sep 12). Retrieved from

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