Rob Zombie: Metal and Horror “Are Treated like They’re Just One Step Above Pornography”
In a new interview with with Consequence of Sound, metal musician and horror auteur Rob Zombie reiterates something most metal and horror fans already know — that these two genres get no respect (cue Rodney Dangerfield):
“I can speak on it from both points of view actually, since I’ve dealt with it on two levels. It’s completely true. In the film world, horror movies were always treated like the dirty little secret. It didn’t matter that some of these studios exist merely by the fact that they started making horror movies.
“Universal with ‘Frankenstein‘ and ‘Dracula‘ — these were the key films that built that studio into what it is. New Line with the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street‘ franchise — that was the big moneymaker that created that studio. Lionsgate back in the day when they were doing ‘Devil’s Rejects‘ and ‘Hostile‘ and ‘Saw‘ — these are the films that were the moneymakers, that were making cash hand over fist for them.”
There are some flaws in Zombie’s argument, but I won’t point them out because on the whole his point is valid*. I still remember twenty years ago, when The Sixth Sense was initially sold as a horror movie, and then when it became a massive hit, ads were suddenly touting it as a “thriller,” because that classification has fewer negative connotations than “horror.” So let’s just give an “Amen” and move on to the part where Rob talked about the music biz:
“Same thing with music. The biggest insult of how hard rock music [is treated] can always be seen with the Grammys. They tried to rectify it every once while, but it’s like you could have a record that sells 10 million copies and they’ll present you the award off-camera. It’s like you don’t mean anything. And then they have some record like best instrumental polka album and they’ll present it on camera even though it sold nothing.
“…Both [metal and horror] are treated like they’re just one step above pornography. And for that reason they’ll always be there, because the fans don’t think of it that way. The fans are there forever. Look how big Iron Maiden is, for example. If you ask the average person on the street, ‘Who’s Iron Maiden?’ they’d go, ‘I don’t fucking know.’ But they’re monstrously huge — and they always will be, just like horror movies will always be.”
Again: we know everything Zombie is saying here is true. But I actually find the lack of respect more disconcerting than he seems to. Yes, it’s amazing what bands like Iron Maiden have accomplished with little to no support from the mainstream media, and no, metal is not going away anytime soon.
All of metal’s biggest bands are getting up there in years — we’ve already lost some key elder statesmen — and they don’t have enough successors waiting in the wings, at least in pure commercial terms. All of Iron Maiden’s members are now over sixty. Black Sabbath, Ozzy, and Slayer are all already done, or on the way out. I have no doubt Metallica can keep going for at least another ten years, but those dudes are all in their mid-50s now. Ditto Anthrax (save for Jonathan Donais) and the Megadaves (Mustaine and Ellefson). The guys in Korn are all pushing fifty, and… fuck, Clown from Slipknot turned fifty yesterday (happy belated birthday, sir)! And the only new-ish metal bands who stand a chance of ever attaining the same heights as those bands are… who? Ghost and Five Finger Death Punch… anyone else?
Now, maybe the fact that there will be no arena-headlining-sized metal bands in another twenty years or so doesn’t bother you. Like I said, metal’s not going away, and a lot of the best shit comes from the underground anyhow.
If you think metal having some bigger name acts benefits the genre on the whole — if you see the value in having Metallicas and Slipknots to take Gojiras and Code Oranges out on the road — than this lack of respect thing is still pretty troubling.
So how do we fix it? That’s the billion dollar question, isn’t it? It’s gonna take time, but doing our best to show the world that we’re not all knuckle-dragging morons will definitely help. So will putting an emphasis on good musicianship (as opposed to studio chicanery). Beyond that, well… shit, I think we’re all open to suggestions.
Quick — to the comments section!
*Ugh, okay, fine, I’ll point them out. Twist my arm, why don’t you.
- New Line never shied away from being known as “The House That Freddy Built.”
- Ditto Universal/Dracula et al. They just unveiled a massive Universal Monsters mural on the studio lot earlier this year. So.
- Lionsgate was already very successful before any of the movies he names were released.
- This is really not a big deal, I just find it humorous: Devil’s Rejects, although inarguably a hit ($7 million budget, $19 million grossed worldwide), was a blip on the box office radar compared to the original Saw ($1.2 million, $103 million) and Hostel ($4.8 million, $80.5 million). Heck, the lowest-grossing entry in the Saw franchise to date, Saw VI, still grossed $68 million on an $11 million budget. So there’s something funny about Zombie tossing his movie on that list.