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Metal Mondays: Reflecting on my experience with stereotypes in metal

On Wednesday, I received the greatest news of my entire life thus far: Slayer is reuniting for two shows in September. The text I received from my friend and fellow metal listener carried this life-altering message, stating boldly, “WE ARE SO BACK,” perfectly encapsulates how I felt for the rest of the day.

Naturally, I talked to everyone I knew about my favorite band’s reunion for the next 48 hours. I gave my dad a heart attack by ominously texting him, “Call me when you get a chance,” I made a friend — an avid Clairo fan — listen to “Raining Blood,” and I subjected everyone who was in The Post’s newsroom and conference room to my excitement.

Whenever I start talking about metal so enthusiastically, I will inevitably hear something to the effect of, “You don’t look like you listen to metal.”

It doesn’t bother me when people I know say this, especially because I agree; in numerous ways, I fall outside of the stereotypical metalhead. Many people have harmful biases against metal listeners, often associating Satanism, drug use and incel culture with metal listeners. When people are shocked by my listening to metal, I occasionally feel a sort of guilty happiness, as I like not being lumped in with these aspects, no matter how unfounded I know these stereotypes to be.

However, there are times when people are so shocked by my penchant for heavy music that I want to stop talking about it. Being told, “You seem like you would like [insert musician with a large LGBTQIA+ following],” or “How could you listen to that garbage?'' will never fail to make me uncomfortable. When I was younger I would quickly stand up for myself, but recently I have been letting these things bother me in silence. 

I don’t know why I let these types of statements bother me. I have felt more welcomed at every metal concert I’ve ever been to than at any other concert of a different genre; I’ve made metal my home. But my existence as a metalhead is often questioned, even after years of listening and writing about this genre. 

Why do people trash this genre? I am sympathetic to the individuals who have had bad experiences in metal circles. Still, I am not sympathetic to people with preconceived ideas about what metal sounds like and what a metalhead looks or acts like. There are often undertones of extreme ignorance and privilege in what is said to me by people who misunderstand metal, and it is incredibly frustrating to me and those who have had similar experiences.

To my friends reading this column who have said I don’t seem like a metalhead, don’t feel guilty — you’re not who I’m thinking of while writing this. To everyone else: please look inward at your biases and why you might think what you think and address this with yourself.

Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at or @_jackson_mccoy_.

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