Publication Date

April 2017


Jonathan Cutler




English (United States)


Heavy metal music is a genre largely dismissed in sociological and cultural writing. Existing precariously at the intersections of artifice, theatricality, fantasy and self-indulgence, its tendencies often preclude it from study in the sociology classroom. I analyze the various discourses that have been utilized throughout metal’s history to delegitimize and reject the metal genre for these presumed proclivities. Leading these critiques of metal are often punk musicians and writers who reject the genre for its bombast and inauthenticity. Scrutinizing punk thinkers adherence to ‘authentic’ modes of expression, I attempt to expose punk’s problematic and anti-queer assumptions about modes of acceptable political and social communication in metal. Tied up in a web of its own ascetic self-denial, pleasure policing, and fraught hyper-masculinity, punk’s critique of metal returns to dated ideas about the self and expression of the self through mass culture. Ultimately, I explore how metal is the canvas against which liberal punk critics betray attachments to masculine ideas of realness, rawness, and efficacy within art.



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