Is Emo Metal? Gendered Boundaries and New Horizons in the Metal Community

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Abstract

This article examines debates in Kerrang! Magazine around emo’s position in the metal community. I ask, why is emo vilified and rejected in British metal magazines, what can debates around emo reveal about the gendered nature of metal, and what potential for new envisionings of metal do they encapsulate? As the only British weekly magazine to focus on metal and hard rock, Kerrang! fulfils a pedagogical role in the metal community, establishing a canon of musical works, a history and ideology of the genre. Fans are vividly represented in its letters pages, their words and images used to disseminate Kerrang!’s ideology of metal. 2006’s reported increase in female readership has been attributed to the coverage of ‘emo’ bands such as My Chemical Romance who have a majority of women fans. This coverage has provoked debate and censure in its letters pages, debate that illuminates gender relations and allows new consideration of the gendering of the metal community. Inspired by Barthes’ Mythologies I perform a semiotic reading of Kerrang!’s June letters pages between 2000 and 2008 to understand the gendered myths forged and propagated by the design, images and letters. Using Thornton’s concept of the gendered mainstream I delineate the implications of Kerrang!’s myths for female fans, arguing that the influx of female emo fans reading Kerrang! has caused a revolt amongst fans of more established metal bands, who represent the magazine and emo as feminised, akin to the mainstream. I conclude that whilst debates around emo are rooted in the metal community’s conservative ideas about gender, the presence of many vocal young fans open to ideas of fluidity of gender allow us to conceive of a more inclusive metal community in which gender boundaries are less constrained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-313
Number of pages17
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Volume15
Issue number3
Early online date30 Aug 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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