Why Do People Hate Metal So Much?I
Out of some kind of masochistic tendency, I've been reading the RYM forums a lot recently, although I hardly ever post on there. The one overriding question I have is why do people who don't listen to metal hate it with such intensity? They will post some shit about metalheads not opening themselves up to new genres and styles and then make it evident that they've only listened to one or two metal albums if any, with their clueless fucking comments. Some believe that there is no difference between Iron Maiden and A!cest or Isis and Napalm Death. They will then proceed to rip into anyone who listens to metal, painting us all as some breed of nazi fuckwits. These comments are offensive on several levels, but for one, don't they understand that it's possible to listen to metal AND other genres too?
So, why do you reckon people who don't listen to metal are so vehement in their opposition to it and it's followers?
I don't spend much time on forums that are not metal orientated. Ironically perhaps the members of these metal-orientated forums clearly listen to wider genres of music. They sure as hell pack in a lot of hours of metal in the "What are you listening to?" threads but are always posting ambient, post-punk, retro-electro, hip-hop, folk and even pop music albums in the same aforementioned threads.
To answer your question Sonny, I think people always fear what they don't understand. The concept of music that does not conform to "agreed" norms or familiar structures or sounds of music can all too easily alienate people. Plus the negativity machine that is social media and the internet in general can easily escalate the isolated issues amongst certain metal icons (Burzum, Ozzy, Marilyn Manson etc) and tar the whole genre with the same brush. I genuinely think that those that are most critical of any type of music are the most closed-minded all round. I haven't seen anyone on my regular haunts (here included) slag off non-metal music, but I have seen people articulate without prejudice why they don't listen to particular genres.
I will always remember on the old Tez forums a member posted a non-metal album in the "..listening..." thread and somebody else questioned why they could post a non-metal album on a metal forum. The poster then delivered a simple yet effective response on how narrow-minded it was to assume that a person would only listen to one genre of music and that it was possible to like more than one style of music.
Ignorance is bliss and unfortunately a lot of people are comfortably dumb!
I have this conversation with people all the time. I don't hide the fact that metal music (not to mention horror movies) is one of the most important things to me in my life. This shocks people no end, particularly in my workplace where I'm in a senior role, and normally results in immediate comments like "But you seem like such a nice person" and "You mean that shouting, angry stuff? I can't understand how anyone can actually like that. It all sounds the same doesn't it?"
I generally respond by saying "I genuinely love the shouting, angry stuff if it's performed really well, but that's only part of metal. Metal is a hugely varied, internationally huge genre, with so many different styles that really don't sound anything alike." This is normally met with disbelief and another negative comment like "You can't even understand what they're saying! Why do they have to be so angry all the time!", to which I inform them that I'm 100% certain that they've never heard a single second of any of my favourite bands, so perhaps their judgement is premature. How would they feel if I told them all their favourite artists and TV shows are rubbish when I've never experienced any of them? There's a lot of beauty and differing emotions to be found in metal music, and I'd be more than happy to showcase some of it for them if they'd be willing.
I've never had anyone (ever) choose to actually listen to what I enjoy after having that conversation. It always goes the same, with them shaking their heads and seeing me in a very different light after the discovery that I clearly worship Satan and have very, very bad taste.
Now this is all face to face, "real world" stuff. I don't think it's any surprise that the anonymity of the internet and the general trolly nature of its inhabitants results in this negative response being exacerbated to an aggressive degree (which is rather ironic). I can't see it ever changing, so choose to ignore it.
I'm lucky enough to have people in the outside world who respect my metal interest as much as you all do in this site. Sure they might be a bit surprised when I first tell them, but they're OK with it whether they also listen to metal or not. The only person I know who doesn't really like metal is my mother. I mean she likes the classic metal ballads from when she was my age, but not the modern heavier metal that I like. Fortunately, she's never that demanding stereotypical woman named after Plankton's computer wife from Spongebob. Instead she respects and supports my metal interest as long as I don't take it too far. That's one reason why I don't take my metal interest too deep into the more extreme sides of doom metal, death metal, or black metal.
I haven't really seen people online target metal in general in one of their hate-rants, but if they have, then there probably has to be a logical reason, like they think it's nothing but noise and shouting, they think all of it is satanic and devil-worshiping, they think it might induce suicide (all because of a couple incidents that don't see a direct link), or they're one of those overprotective parents who try to prevent their children from seeing or hearing stuff that is even remotely offensive. With those parents targeting even children's comics like Big Nate (see this page: https://big-nate-comments.fandom.com/wiki/Community_Activity:Reading_Big_Nate_Reviews!), I bet they faint whenever they listen to something suggestive in a metal song or see an inappropriate cover artwork. Could one of those parents be Tipper Gore? Anyway, if someone told us something hateful about metal, are we gonna cry about it?
NO!! We can just ignore the hate and give no sh*t about it. True metalheads stay resilient!
As someone who does listen to a lot of music outside of heavy metal, I can tell you that this mindset is not mutually exclusive to this genre. The is very much alive and well in how some rock fans treat hip hop even today, and most people who hear the worst of mainstream country music (myself included) have no idea about the leaps and bounds of wonderful music being crafted in the underground.
People who listen to radio friendly pop music are unlikely to explore anything outside of their very small boundaries as what characterizes "good" music to them. And so, when that average pop listener hears...say an Iron Maiden album, they become lost and have no idea what this foreign sound is meant to make them feel. Then when someone says "this is heavy metal music", they will shut out that sound from their mind and anything that even closely resembles it is immediately bad.
I will say that I have always viewed heavy metal as a bit of a red herring. A lot of it, especially on the extreme side of the spectrum, is not meant to be accessible. Back in the day, it would have been album sales that clued you in. Today it's streaming. Because of this, many of those outside of the circle simply refuse to understand what makes heavy metal so exciting and how we all got here. Now if I may flip the script, I know a lot of fans outside of the metal forums who listen to nothing but heavy metal and anything else is pussy music. Furthermore, any metal music that tries to be a little bit more accessible is poser material and "not true [kvlt] metal" or some stupid shit like that.
I listen to many different types of music and I can find an appreciation in all of it, even if it is in (sub)genres that I do not typically explore. I know that saying that probably makes me sound like a pretentious asshole, but if the music that I'm listening to has good fundamentals, (i.e. good storytelling, melodic drive, engineering, progressive songwriting), I'm gonna like it no matter who is making it! What attracts me to the heavy metal that I enjoy the most is that it is able to pull off the fundamentals, while doing it in a way that is not meant to be accessible. Those are the types of accomplishments that I respect and keep me coming back to Metal Academy for my heavy fix instead of RYM.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though heavy metal has a lot of problems, most people are scared of things that they don't understand. And what I really appreciate about this forum is how everyone actually likes it and we can have honest discussions about what is good and what isn't. The next time someone tells you all heavy metal sounds the same, respond with "all hip hop sounds the same" and watch them spin around in circles as they run off all of the different subgenres in hip hop in order to prove you wrong.
Unlike you young whippersnappers I didn't grow up with the internet and until I joined the Metal Academy I had never frequented an internet forum before (not even on RYM), basically because I thought "who would be even remotely interested in what I think about anything?" So I'm not upset or enraged by these negative comments, but the vitriol in some of them I do find surprising, almost as if the author was bullied by a gang of metalheads at school or something that has left them with a grudge against the scene in general. My theory on internet posting is that if I wouldn't say it to a person's face then I wouldn't post it. I don't have any problem with the fact that some people don't like metal, why would I, but the outpourings of hatred for what is essentially a form of entertainment just have me baffled. I understand metal is an easy target. Several well-publicised incidents of suicide and murder added to a scene that is predominently white male oriented and has a recognised problem with right wing ideology will always attract comment I suppose. It's a pity because we all here know that metal has so much more to offer. I still think it's an interesting phenomenon though and is probably more a societal / social media issue than actually a musical issue.