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R.I.P. Stuff You Will Hate (sad post)

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I have a feeling Max Frank enjoys getting on his knees in front of Sergeant D and sucking hard.
-MetalSucks commenter “Wendy’s Good Old Fashioned Cum”

It may have seemed sudden yesterday when Sergeant D. decided to pull the plug on his website, Stuff You Will Hate. But for many of us, the writing’s been on the wall for months. Sarge’s posts for MS have veered away from making fun of weird scene bands and refocused on straight up memes and articles about the metal business, while a host of new websites (The Hard Times, Noisey’s occasional zany joke posts like this and this, etc.) have begun to carry the torch for making fun of underground culture.

So this is a post-mortem on a group of gonzo writers who brought to our attention the most psychotic, hilarious, and head-shaking trends in metal and punk culture: special snowflake syndrome, crabcore, neon, entombedcore, easycore, tr00 pop punk, hipsters at ’80s NYHC reunion shows, ’90s fetishism, ‘sup bro, vegan death metal, white knighting, beta basement dwellers, the comments section of metalcore videos on YouTube. In an era filled with copy-catting, Internet humor mired beneath dozens of layers of self-referential irony, and the usual media circus that shoves crap bands down our throats, Stuff You Will Hate specialized in something rare: honesty.

The thing about Internet scene media (and in particular young websites/blogs) is that much of its lifesblood comes from producing original content related to the music, like interviews, song premieres, videos, news scoops, etc. This content doesn’t just happen by accident — it comes out of working relationships with bands, publicists, and labels. Consequently, lots of critics and bloggers tend to be hesitant in their writings on bands for fear of damaging those relationships. Not all, but some, enough so that the general pantheon of music journalism always tends to hover around a certain kind of status quo way of talking about bands (which is why when you get a certain kind of think-piece, like the ones often published on this website, people lose their shit — because they’re not used to it!)

I imagine Stuff You Will Hate was equally revered and reviled by metal publicists. Revered because it was incisive, funny, and honest, and reviled because in the span of a single post it could turn your band from artist to meme. But the website was in a rare position — influential in a certain corner of the community, but not at the Lester Bangs level of mass-media audience — that allowed the writers to say things you couldn’t read about anywhere else.

Sergeant D. has said before that he considers SYWH to be a pioneer in making fun of uptight Internet metal-nerd-comments-section basement dwellers. But my favorite aspect of their work was the way they anticipated the direction that alternative media outlets (and alternative “punk”/music culture in general) have been headed in over the last few years.

Posts like “What 80’s HC band should NPR/Noisey/Rolling Stone Jock next,” pointing out that Henry Rollins was in Black Flag for five years but he’s been talking about it for twenty, noticing that hipsters and art students only listened to metal/hardcore that’s old enough to be associated with a distant past (*trophy emoji*)… all of this did more than just make us laugh — it also spoke some serious truths to the power held by the purveyors of Vitamin Water-sponsored youth culture. As my favorite entertainment industry critic Bob Lefsetz has said, comedians are more relevant than musicians these days; they’re the ones who have the ability (and the balls) to say the shit that everyone else is thinking.

And that’s what I’ll miss. Because even though those in the know are aware of the editorial package those websites sell, the further entrenchment of safely codified metal/hardcore into the general mainstream-alternative branch of culture continues to this day. There are some SYWH imitators doing a good job, but nobody really cuts to the core the way those guys did. I hope, as I know Sergeant D does, that kids learn from what they wrote about. But I also hope that they don’t, and that there will always be a Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! to remind us how silly, and fun, this music is supposed to be.

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