Quit Gatekeeping, You Posers


Metal in recent years has seen something of a resurgence. Rock and metal acts are in commercials. Ghost’s Impera hit near the top of the Billboard Top Album Sales Chart earlier this year and now “Mary on a Cross” is blowing up on Tik Tok. A 36 year-old Metallica song is the backdrop for a major cultural touchstone. Our musical home is getting bigger and more people are finding their place within it.

All these things are good. Yet still, we at MetalSucks see it all the time. People trip over themselves to spout some ignorant bullshit about how sacred the genre is and why today’s teens are ruining everything.

As a species, we humans are complex animals. We laugh, love, hate, cry, fight, and communicate like no other creature can on this planet. Our intellect affords us the capability to create on such a high level that there are literally limitless possibilities to what we can find and enjoy in our short lives. 

And yet with so little time before we die, why do so many people—especially in the metal community—stick their noses in other people’s business? Why do so many people shit on someone else’s musical tastes or feel the need to test their fandom for wearing a certain band’s shirt? It’s a dick move and honestly does more harm to metal than good.

When you reduce someone’s fandom or interest in a band to something less valid than your own views on those things, you make it harder for that other person to find their footing into the genre. I’ve seen it happen countless times in other things—I used to play a a certain card game competitively (here come the comments…) and I can’t tell you how many times I watched as new players grew discouraged from falling in love with the game. Though the overall community is great, a few bad actors that thought they knew everything there was to know about the game made it seem like the new player was an idiot for thinking a certain way. That the way they wanted to interact with the game was wrong and that they would never succeed with that mindset—so they just bounced off the game and left forever. That’s not a sustainable situation, regardless of whether it’s music, gaming, or anything else.

How easily you forget where you came from. Unless you had a cool sibling or family member that brought you into the fold, you likely stumbled upon the genre yourself. It’s more likely that you waded through hours of Korn and Limp Bizkit tracks in the late 90s and early 2000s because that was insanely popular at the time. It’s what MTV played on Total Request Live. It was on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 soundtrack. Only through those gateway bands did you find the likes of Slayer, Death, Dimmu Borgir, or some other “kvlt” group.

So if most of us stumble our way into the genre, why do so many people forget that fact and shit on someone else for not being “metal enough?” In a recent Loudwire editorial, Steve Byrne, a licensed psychologist and an associate professor of counseling, said gatekeeping stems from a cocktail of insecurity and bad social skills, among other underlying problems.

“It’s just human nature to see others who are not like us as a threat in some way because we’re all pretty fragile,” he wrote. “Unless you’re delusionally confident, everyone feels insecure at times, and subconsciously, we’re all trying to prove to ourselves and others that we’re good enough. One tactic for doing so is to label people who aren’t like us and put them down.”

So when you criticize someone for liking Babymetal, you’re really shouting to the world that you’re unsure of your place within it. You’re telling everyone that deep down, you think you might not be worthy to carry the metal banner—and that’s bullshit too. You’re just as worthy as the kid reaching for that Disturbed t-shirt.

Now, that’s not to say that all bands or art are inherently good because someone may like it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Music, like any form of media, is not safe against criticism or backlash. Nothing should be beyond reproach and if you have a legitimate gripe with how the music is played or the content therein, that’s fine. You’re giving an opinion and expressing your viewpoint as a fan of the genre.

But to say that only you know what’s “metal” and what’s not is ill-conceived at best and maliciously conceited at worst. If you’re still a kid and you’re reading this, your brain is still developing so I’m sure I’ll get flamed in the comments for my “woke” idealism and unnecessary call for civility. If you’re an adult, however, and you see yourself reflected in the very concepts I’m lambasting here, you still have time.

Grow up. Get over yourself and stop yucking everyone else’s yum. You fucking poser.

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