Is “Whiteness” a Problem in Metal?

In a recent article, Kim Kelly, one of the bottom-feeding writers for the sewage pipe known as VICE, decided to, as usual, artificially inject some ridiculous political babble. Her comments arose in an interview with an African American musician who is combining some black metal sounds with American “slave” music. It’s obviously not an actual metal release, but rather an experiment for this musician, who admits came up with the idea thanks to a suggestion from 4Chan. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but if it’s the kind of thing that gets you going, more power to you.

I took issue with the fact that, at one point, Kelly praises this musician by saying:

It’s pretty subversive that you’re approaching it this way, because black metal itself can be such a white, backward-facing genre.”

Besides the fact that this line seems to have been added in post, since it mysteriously features a different format than the rest of the text, I take issue with her words. This is, of course, not the first time this character decides to pull this kind of stunt. Back in 2014, for example, she wrote how there is a “long-held view of heavy metal and hardcore as members-only clubs for straight white cis men;” as I reported back then, her response to my request for any sort of source for the comment was “it’s literally not an opinion, it’s a fact.” In other words, “it is like this, because I say so.”

Kelly’s words epitomize the self-flagellating view of many white, privileged, hip writers, who always try to go out of their way to apologize for their ethnicity. It’s a painful show, as it highlights how their whole shtick is basically feigning moral outrage over things they will never personally experience. Of course, if the facts are not in accordance with the source of their moral outrage, that’s a problem for the facts, not for their message.

hipster-358479_1280
“Let me tell you about the African-American experience…” (Photo)

The use of “white” as a deriding term to refer to heavy metal is, in my view, quite stupid. This is especially so when we consider that, whether VICE writers and their ilk like it, heavy metal did start amidst white people. In Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture, the first and arguably most important academic book on heavy metal, Deena Weinstein (2000, p. 66-67) explains how heavy metal started among working-class white people in England, and that American blacks (the people Kelly seems to worship in a condescending 21st century version of the “noble savage” trope) did not participate in it for a number of reasons. Among these reasons, first, merely geographical factors, and, second  “self-segregation” of African American themselves, following the murder of MLK and the entrenchment of African Americans in their own culture (criticizing those who broke ranks and sounded “too white”). It did not help, of course, that in the 60s and 70s a working-class, all-white fanbase was not an attractive place for blacks to mingle in. The situation did obviously change, and by the 1980’s Hispanics and blacks were actively participating in the creation and performance of heavy metal. As a person who grew up in South America, I can attest to this, as my heavy metal youth did not resemble a Hitlerjugend rally, nor did any of the many concerts I attended.

How VICE journalists imagine heavy metal concerts look like
How VICE journalists imagine heavy metal concerts.

This is hardly a divisive issue, as there is a clear academic consensus in regards to where and with whom did heavy metal start. Since I’m sure the likes of Kim Kelly are aware of this (or, at least, they should) it always surprises me when they decide to simply do away with history and look down on heavy metal (a genre they supposedly like) and use its ethnic origins as a negative.

The problem is that this behaviour reeks of hypocrisy, as it unfairly targets heavy metal for being “white,” while failing to use the same kind of logic to attack any other genre of music that happens to appeal to a certain ethnic group more than others. As far as we can tell, nobody out there is criticizing Argentina’s grip on Tango, or the fact that Azerbaijani people are disproportionately represented among Ashik performers. For some reason, we never seem to get the same outrage and calls for diversity in those cases; in fact, any attempt to include white people among traditionally non-white genres of music is met with downright hatred. In the eyes of commentators like those employed by VICE, it then becomes an issue of cultural appropriation. In those cases, diversity becomes a problem.

Even in academic circles, the presence of white people in traditionally non-white stages is a source for concern. In Color-Blind Ideology and the Cultural Appropriation of Hip-Hop, for example, the author makes the case that by removing the inherent ethnic elements from hip-hop, when it is adopted by whites, it makes the music “color-blind” and destroys its true purpose (p.646).

“[C]olor-blind eyes interpret racialized cultural symbols in ways undermining their racially coded character, reducing race to little more than an “innocuous cultural signifier,” allowing whites to use culture to experience a felt similarity with people of color. Indeed it has been firmly established that whites tend to be color-blind to their own racial privilege, but the question of how individuals struggle to manage the demands of color-blindness in the midst of participating in a cultural movement in which race is salient, such as hip-hop, is less well understood. How do individuals simultaneously insist on color-blindness and endorse a cultural form which is unambiguously and explicitly racial?

If whites stay out of non-white culture, they are being racists; if they take part in it, they are appropriating it. On the flipside, if non-whites keep their own art free of white people, it’s self preservation, and if they partake in traditionally white forms of expression, they’re simply moving forward. For the likes of VICE and certain circles of academia, white people are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. No matter what they do, they’re always one step away from flogging someone. It doesn’t matter that heavy metal often speaks to the shared experience of certain people (early black metal to the repressed Scandinavian society of the second half of the 20th century, traditional heavy metal to disenfranchised working class kids, etc.) it is inherently evil, unless we stomp that shit out.

Of course, Noisey has me covered, in regards to my questions. In fact, another of their bottom-feeding reporters explains, in an amazing non-sequitur, why it is not the same to complain about the accusations of cultural appropriation.

You think it doesn’t matter because how dare anyone tell you that you can’t do this, that or the other just because of your race. Oh my god, do you not taste the irony in that statement? It’s overpowering! To complain that you’re not allowed to twerk while white, when there are black people literally being shot dead for jaywalking (while black), listening to music (while black) and knocking on doors (while black) amongst other transgressions that come under the umbrella of “existing (while black)” the sheer audacity of your affronted indignity is almost to be applauded in nervous confusion.

It’s outrage journalism, pure and simple. Just like the 80’s had reporters running to cover the threat of Satanism always lurking around the corner and the 90’s were all about how kids were having sex and doing drugs all the time, this generation is all about the undercover racist hiding in our midst. It’s a time when a big chunk of your life is expected to be spent in constant contrition, apologizing for things you didn’t do, for thoughts you didn’t have, and for behaviors you’ve never exhibited. We get to have our 2 minutes of hate every day, trying to find what white people are up to now. Truly, war is peace, freedom is slavery.

References:

RODRÍGUEZ, Jason, “Color-Blind Ideology and the Cultural Appropriation of Hip-Hop,” 2006, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35, 645
HARRISON, Michael Leigh, “Factory Music: How the Industrial Geography and Working-Class Environment of Post-War Birmingham Fostered the Birth of Heavy Metal,” Journal of Social History, Volume 44, Nº 1, pp.145-158
WEINSTEIN, Deena, “Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture,” Da Capo Press, 2000

 

Cover photo by  Ingun Mæhlum, used under fair use.
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Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J's interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson "totally represents me, man") eventually moving into the realm of power, black, and death metal. He holds a PhD in law, trains martial arts, practices law, and enjoys coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.
  • Natalie Lyndon

    Fantastic article. You’re absolutely on the money.

    • J_MetalBlast

      Hi Natalie, apologies for the delay!

      You’re very kind, and I hope you’ll check other articles on the site! 🙂

  • Tehy

    yeah, this was great, especially the point about ‘too many whites vs. cultural appropriation’, you start to wonder if their problem isn’t just white people period

    • fierytrainwreck

      Start to wonder?? I would’ve thought their hate-filled twitter feeds and never-ending hit-pieces rather fully confirm as much.

    • ogunsiron

      when white artists are being told to stay out of black music and at the same time whites are told that having genres like folk metal is a problem, yes the overall message is that white people need to just go, since they belong nowhere.

    • Patrick W. Dunne

      Basically, this. Nobody asks if hip-hop has too many black people in it. But when white people do want to get into hip-hop, it suddenly becomes a problem because “cultural appropriation.” That’s like saying that non-whites can’t play black metal because it has its roots in Norway and paganism and such.

    • J_MetalBlast

      The problem is that their understanding of race comes from living in middle-class American cities. They assume that the world begins and ends there, and that the American experience with race (slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc.) must be the same all over. Since they don’t see many blacks in their local Starbucks or at their overpriced venue of choice, they assume that’s the music’s fault).
      Of course, it doesn’t help that when it comes to minorities they go out of their way to differentiate between peoples (remember the chaos when a Chinese woman was cast to play a Japanese Geisha in “Memoirs of a Geisha”?) but caucasians are all dropped under “WHITE PEOPLE.” Not only that, WHITE PEOPLE, in their minds, are the equivalent of the 20th Century Jewish Cabal conspiracy (a la Protocols of the Elders of Zion), since not only are white people inherently evil, they also possess this hive mind that makes them act all the same.

      To summarize, media like Vice, Huffington Post, etc., are just shit.

  • Invin

    Article is on point. The most bigoted and racist people I know are the ones who claim to be on the right side of history and try to inject identity politics into everything.

  • ogunsiron

    I’m a black man who’s been into extreme metal for about 20 years. I’ll keep it short and sweet and say that I prefer a metal scene with people like Varg Vikernes, Mikko Aspa, Robert Darken and other such maniacs in it than a scene filled with intersectional feminists. I literally prefer hanging out with NS people ( and i have hung out with such people!) than with SJWs. Anti-racism is a codeword for antiwhite and this black man is not participating in antiwhiteness at all.

    I’m probably a little extreme in how tolerant I am about the NS side of things but surely the metal scene could agree on keeping antiwhite racism out of the scene ? If you don’t like white people, you should be kept out. No tolerance for antiwhites, whatever their origin, imho.

  • MBII

    Wow I fucking love this article man. Keep it up. Somebody needs to call Vice out on their shit.

    • J_MetalBlast

      Hi! Thanks for your comment!
      That is exactly what we’re trying to do here. Although we can’t be devoted to it 24/7, at least it is important that, from time to time, they are taken to task for the misinformation they so happily distribute.

  • Gore

    vice = shit.

  • GDD

    Deena Weinstein is a sociologist. Sociology is a pseudo science, mostly populated with joowish professors (like Deena Weistein), The whole purpose of sociology is to brainwash and to get people to accept phony theories about humanity and the joowish agenda about how multiculturalism is wonderful for everyone, etc etc.

    Heavy Metal culture was clearly been born out of white working class Americans and Europeans.
    Heavy Metal was a white invention that spread out to other cultures like South America, East Asia, etc.
    The funny thing is that most of the well known bands from places like Brazil are helmed by European descendants, because in the third world, it takes a lot of money to buy imported and expensive amps, guitars, drums, etc.
    I also come from South America, and i can tell you that it is very rare to see blacks liking Heavy Metal there.
    Heavy Metal is, in most parts of the world (outside the US and Europe), a truly underground phenomenon.
    Heavy metal is probably the last popular genre of music created and enjoyed mostly by white people and for this, and since it cannot be controlled via the traditional pop music neoliberal press vehicles, it has been targeted by the liberal zionist media as the perfect vehicle to stomp out the last remnants of white culture.

    A few years ago, there was a concerted effort to “liberalize” metal with the acquisition of Roadrunner and blabbermouth by joowish music enterprise Warner Brothers. Since then that site is littered with liberal “whites are racist” propaganda articles, disguised as “news”, and never ending advertising for the few joowish metal artists in existence, like zionist David Draiman, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dee Snider, Marty Friedman, etc..
    Also as part of this “liberalization” a couple of well funded metal sites out of Brooklyn and run by zionist joos was created: Metalsucks and metalinjection. These sites take the zionist and neoliberal agenda of Blabbetmouth one step further by pushing political agendas, like bashing Donald Trump incessantly, criticizing anyone remotely leaning towards appreciating white culture (Varg, Inquisition, etc)
    So please be aware that this, is no accident and i recommend all readers to stop visiting those sites and get your metal news from other sources that are not owned by zionist joos.

  • GDD

    Deena Weinstein is a sociologist. Sociology is a pseudo science, mostly populated with joowish professors (like Deena Weistein), The whole purpose of sociology is to brainwash and to get people to accept phony theories about humanity and the joowish agenda about how multiculturalism is wonderful for everyone, etc etc.

    Heavy Metal culture was clearly been born out of white working class Americans and Europeans.
    Heavy Metal was a white invention that spread out to other cultures like South America, East Asia, etc.
    The funny thing is that most of the well known bands from places like Brazil are helmed by European descendants, because in the third world, it takes a lot of money to buy imported and expensive amps, guitars, drums, etc.
    I also come from South America, and i can tell you that it is very rare to see blacks liking Heavy Metal there.
    Heavy Metal is, in most parts of the world (outside the US and Europe), a truly underground phenomenon.
    Heavy metal is probably the last popular genre of music created and enjoyed mostly by white people and for this, and since it cannot be controlled via the traditional pop music neoliberal press vehicles, it has been targeted by the liberal zionist media as the perfect vehicle to stomp out the last remnants of white culture.

    A few years ago, there was a concerted effort to “liberalize” metal with the acquisition of Roadrunner and blabbermouth by joowish music enterprise Warner Brothers. Since then that site has become littered with liberal “whites are racist” propaganda articles, disguised as “news”, and becoming a never ending mouthpiece for the few joowish metal artists in existence, like zionist David Draiman, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dee Snider, Marty Friedman, etc..
    You cannot read a webpage in blabbermouth without seeing some worthless “news” or commentary about worthless joo metal “artists” like Draiman or Gene Simmons..

    Also as part of this “liberalization” a couple of well funded metal sites out of Brooklyn and run by zionist joos was created: Metalsucks and metalinjection. These sites take the zionist and neoliberal agenda of Blabbetmouth one step further by pushing political agendas, like bashing Donald Trump incessantly, criticizing anyone remotely leaning towards appreciating white culture (Varg, Inquisition, etc)
    So please be aware that this, is no accident and i recommend all readers to stop visiting those sites and get your metal news from other sources that are not owned by zionist joos.

  • GDD

    Deena Weinstein is a sociologist. Sociology is a pseudo science, mostly populated with joowish professors (like Deena Weistein), The whole purpose of sociology is to brainwash and to get people to accept phony theories about humanity and the joowish agenda about how multiculturalism is wonderful for everyone, etc etc.
    Heavy Metal culture was clearly been born out of white working class Americans and Europeans.
    Heavy Metal was a white invention that spread out to other cultures like South America, East Asia, etc.
    The funny thing is that most of the well known bands from places like Brazil are helmed by European descendants, because in the third world, it takes a lot of money to buy imported and expensive amps, guitars, drums, etc.
    I also come from South America, and i can tell you that it is very rare to see blacks liking Heavy Metal there.
    Heavy Metal is, in most parts of the world (outside the US and Europe), a truly underground phenomenon.
    Heavy metal is probably the last popular genre of music created and enjoyed mostly by white people and for this, and since it cannot be controlled via the traditional pop music neoliberal press vehicles, it has been targeted by the liberal zionist media as the perfect vehicle to stomp out the last remnants of white culture.
    A few years ago, there was a concerted effort to “liberalize” metal with the acquisition of Roadrunner and blabbermouth by joowish music enterprise Warner Brothers. Since then that site has become littered with liberal “whites are racist” propaganda articles, disguised as “news”, and becoming a never ending mouthpiece for the few joowish metal artists in existence, like zionist David Draiman, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dee Snider, Marty Friedman, etc..
    You cannot read a webpage in blabbermouth without seeing some worthless “news” or commentary about worthless joo metal “artists” like Draiman or Gene Simmons..
    Also as part of this “liberalization” a couple of well funded metal sites out of Brooklyn and run by zionist joos was created: Metalsucks and metalinjection. These sites take the zionist and neoliberal agenda of Blabbetmouth one step further by pushing political agendas, like bashing Donald Trump incessantly, and bashing anyone remotely leaning towards appreciating white culture.
    Artists like Varg, Inquisition and Phil Anselmo have been bashed by these sites as being evil and racist, because.. God forbid Whites have their own culture.. because that is just racist (as if Blacks, joos and latinos didn’t have their own magazines, music genres and even TV Channels)
    So please be aware that this, is no accident and i recommend all readers to stop visiting those sites and get your metal news from other sources that are not owned by zionist joos.

    • J_MetalBlast

      Hi GDD,
      I’m happy this comment is back, since apparently you had deleted it the first time you left it. I think it speaks volumes to the enormous damage drugs and syphilis can do to a person’s brain, so I really hope you won’t delete it again.
      1. Sociology does not have a JEWISH AGENDA, you magnificent moron. For starters, sociology is merely the study of society and the behaviors observed therein. You can make interpretations that lean left or right, and I’m sure you can inject whatever Zionist/Reptilian conspiracy you want while you do that analysis, but that’d be on you, not on sociology. Look up Hans Freyer.
      2. Having lived in South America I can assure you, heavy metal was never restricted in those areas to “European descendants” (unless, of course, you count mixed-races, in which case virtually all of Latin America would fall under that description).
      3. Can you provide any source for the “targeted” effort by the Jewish/Reptilian/Masonic cabal against metal? I know you can’t, but I love to see crazy people struggle.
      4. You keep using “Zionist” as a synonym for “Jew.” You might wanna look that up.

      In short, you’re a fucking moron (or a troll, of course). Sell your crazy shit elsewhere, we’re fully stocked up.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      • J_MetalBlast

        Since GDD deleted his comment, here it is, in full-syphilitic madness:

        “GDD
        Deena Weinstein is a sociologist. Sociology is a pseudo science, mostly populated with joowish professors (like Deena Weistein), The whole purpose of sociology is to brainwash and to get people to accept phony theories about humanity and the joowish agenda about how multiculturalism is wonderful for everyone, etc etc.
        Heavy Metal culture was clearly been born out of white working class Americans and Europeans.
        Heavy Metal was a white invention that spread out to other cultures like South America, East Asia, etc.
        The funny thing is that most of the well known bands from places like Brazil are helmed by European descendants, because in the third world, it takes a lot of money to buy imported and expensive amps, guitars, drums, etc.
        I also come from South Ame rica, and i can tell you that it is very rare to see blacks liking Heavy Metal there.
        Heavy Metal is, in most parts of the world (outside the US and Europe), a truly underground phenomenon.
        Heavy metal is probably the last popular genre of music created and enjoyed mostly by white people and for this, and since it cannot be controlled via the traditional pop music neoliberal press vehicles, it has been targeted by the liberal zionist media as the perfect vehicle to stomp out the last remnants of white culture.
        A few years ago, there was a concerted effort to “liberalize” metal with the acquisition of Roadrunner and blabbermouth by joowish music enterprise Warner Brothers. Since then that site has become littered with liberal “whites are racist” propaganda articles, disguised as “news”, and becoming a never ending mouthpiece for the few joowish metal artists in existence, like zionist David Draiman, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dee Snider, Marty Friedman, etc..
        Yo u cannot read a webpage in blabbermouth without seeing some worthless “news” or commentary about worthless joo metal “artists” like Draiman or Gene Simmons..
        Also as part of this “liberalization” a couple of well funded metal sites out of Brooklyn and run by zionist joos was created: Metalsucks and metalinjection. These sites take the zionist and neoliberal agenda of Blabbetmouth one step further by pushing political agendas, like bashing Donald Trump incessantly, and bashing anyone remotely leaning towards appreciating white culture.
        Artists like Varg, Inquisition and Phil Anselmo have been bashed by these sites as being evil and racist, because.. God forbid Whites have their own culture.. because that is just racist (as if Blacks, joos and latinos didn’t have their own magazines, music genres and even TV Channels)
        So please be aware that this, is no accident and i recommend all readers to stop visiting those sites and get your metal news from other sources that are not owned by zionist joos.
        8:53 p.m., Wednesday Aug. 10 | Other comments by GDD”

        • ogunsiron

          zionist David Draiman, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dee Snider, Marty Friedman, etc..
          Yo u cannot read a webpage in blabbermouth without seeing some worthless “news” or commentary about worthless joo metal “artists” like Draiman or Gene Simmons.
          —-
          Interesting and i hadn’t noticed that one.
          Jewish achievement is real and well known in many fields but jewish achievement gets grotesquely overplayed. Because “those who tell the story” and “those who speak in public” are heavily drawn from the community of the chosen, non-jewish giants get progressively forgotten in all kinds of fields of culture, business, science and music too. Mahler is exalted as the greatest ever western musicisn. Jewish physicists were outstanding but there’s good reason to think that non jewish giants have been erased out of the collective consciousness. These days, the Enlightenment itself is being attributed to the jew Spinoza. Amazing chutzpah!

    • J_MetalBlast

      I’m so sorry to see that you edited your original comment (which I pasted below!) to this. I think that your feelings are better represented by your original syphilitic rant. I hope you’ll reconsider.
      In the meantime, what part of my reply could possibly be construed as “white-hating” or “liberal”? Better yet, which part of engaging your idiotic comment made it sound like I wanted to have a “safe space”?
      You don’t need to tell me which part made me sound like an asshole, I usually assume everything I say makes me sound like one, so that’s OK.