Heavy Metal music usually include impressive technical feats on the electric guitar, counter posed with an experience of power and control that is built up through vocal, guitar power chords, distortion, and sheer volume of drums. Also Visually, metal musicians typically appear as males, leaping about the stage, leather clothing punctuating their performances with phallic thrusts of guitars and microphone stands. Heavy metal is, a discourse shaped by patriarchy. Circulating in context of Western society, for much of its history metal has been appreciated and supported primarily by a male teenage audience.
This is a group lacking in social, physical, and economical power but besieged by cultural messages promoting such forms of power, insisting on them as masculinity. The purpose of a genre is to reproduce a particular ideology, and the aim of heavy metal until mid 1980s was for young white male performers and fans to hear and believe in certain stories about the nature of masculinity. However these representations can never be definitive and they are always open to transformation and changing figures. Since social circumstances may change so that particular forms of culture are no longer related to an individual.
For example metal fans as they get older may gain some amount of economical power, or they may find children who replace them at the bottom of social or physical power. Also we have seen a great increase in number female fans, since around 1987, concert audiences for metal shows have been roughly gender balanced . In my discussion I will try to explain why metal has been dominated by male musicians and fans, also why there was a big increase in the number of female fans. I will be framing heavy metal songs and videos in terms of strategies concerning gender and power.
Until the mid 1980s, one of these three strategies misogyny, exscription , and androgyny dominated heavy metal music . However another approach in recent years did soften metal with songs about romance, this kind of music particularly has drawn female attention to heavy metal. I will explain these in more details, this type of analysis may tell us about gender construction in heavy metal genre or culture. I have to mention that it is not only lyrics or visual imagery but also the music itself that construct gender experiences.
Such signification mentioned above reflects in social contexts such as gender, class, and race. Hence musical meanings are inseparable from these fundamental social concepts. The most distinctive feature of metal videos is that they typically present it as of a live performance. However bands are different in styles as GunsnRoses, and Metallica, they all rely on live footage. The video in a concert setting, presents the group in all their glory, as larger than life figures whose presence is validated by feelings of community and power, and evoked by venue and music.
These types of footage offer a fantasy world of action, one in which male bonding among members of the hero team is very important. It is worth mentioning that even in nonperformance metal video, narrative is set on a stage concerning male world without women. A good example would be Judas Priests Heading To The Highway which shows bands guitar players drag race, flagged by the lead singer. The point is the same, to represent and reproduce spectacles that depend for their appeal on exscription of women . The seductive women who sometimes intrude into the video points out several things.
First to trigger desire and its appeal to the male gaze and more importantly its threat to masculine control. Heavy Metal has developed a discourse of male victimization and androgyny; its power to reproduce or adapt patriarchy is often contingent on the absence of overt violence . Women are hinted as mysterious and dangerous; they are dangerous just by being there, their attractiveness threatens to disrupt both male self-control and male bonding. However female fans are invited to identify themselves with the powerful position that is has been made for them.
Androgyny has a long history in music, from classical (opera) to pop; famous examples would be David Bowie and Little Richard. Same in glam metal, androgyny has found popular success to a degree unique to its own. Poison is a good example of a successful glam metal band. Sadly even though they had commercial success they have gotten no critical approval. In the case of bands such as Poison, we might understand androgyny as a tactic to deal with a sort of male anxiety. Musicians themselves may notice how the ambiguities of androgyny provoke compensatory strategies.
Aerosmiths hit song Dude looks like a lady confronts this gander gender anxiety, airing the problem with a mockery. Many metal fans link glam metal closely to a threat of homosexuality . In summary androgyny offers male performers the chance to play with colour, and movement, which is basically an escape of the expected man. Heavy metal changed a lot in the last half of the 1980s; a good example would be Slippery When Wet album (by Bon Jovi). The lead singer Jon Bon Jovi showed a kind of genuineness and romantic exposure that appealed very much to female fans.
It was bands mainstream success and helped heavy metal music to enter top 40. Obviously they were not the first to do so but nobody else got this much success. The most obvious change was the lyrics: going from creepy and gloomy lyrics to refining a positive, upbeat outlook, where the only thing, which is important, is love. This new product was so pleasing to the female market. But still features of heavy metal are evident in timbres and phrasing the instruments. Bon Jovi left some of metal dimension for constructed sincerity of pop music, just the right degree of prettiness so it could catch the taste of a female audience.
The biggest selling single from Slippery When wet was living on a prayer which show cased a young middle class couple who are in love but Tommy (the male character in the song) is on work strike, hence they are in need (they are living on a prayer), but we know its going to be ok since they have each other. The source of songs main pleasure is its musical romanticness, as with any pop song with the use of heavy metal transcendence. This song led to critical dismissal of Bon Jovi as rock musician.
In conclusion, in my essay I have mainly concentrated on the issue of gender. Since the social context within heavy metal circulates are highly patriarchal, it is not surprising to find that an important concern of metal is to represent male power and female subordination. Music, lyrics, visual images, and behavior supply to assemble gender identities, infusing them with power and say that they are natural and desirable. These representations primarily serve the interests of the male musicians who dominate heavy metal performance. It is also important to mention that in heavy metal genre, women are more offered heavy metal empowerment through adaptations of ideology of romance.