Monday, January 31, 2011

Your Pretty Cool...For a Black Chick: The Backhanded Compliment

(Warning: This Is A Whiny Rant)

Any black girl into this scene has gotten this comment. I guarantee it.
Or the Oreo reference. (If you don't know what that is-look it up).

I've also received:
"Wow, your really pretty for a black girl".
"I've never met a black girl like you"
"Your skinny for a black girl."
"Your the nicest black girl I've ever met"
"I never considered dating a black girl until I met you "

Yadda yadda, these weird pseudo-compliments.

Apparently they come from a good place but if anyone ever seriously gave you a "compliment" like this, would you be pleased or mortified?

You can guess which one I am.

I'd say 75 % if this dribble comes from guys and the other 25% from girls.

Although I'm not a fan of the band Straight line Stitch I like to keep up with them because they are the biggest upcoming metal band fronted by a black girl...ever. At least that I know of.
Sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me reading the comments people write about them...and by them I mean her. Just peruse the Metal Sucks topics on SLS, as well as YouTube comments. on their videos.

It literally makes me sick. It must drive the lead singer crazy.

I don't know how many comments I've seen about her being a heavy metal Beyonce (of course, the only black singer they could come up with) or her 'whipping her hair back and forth' better than Will Smiths' daughter. All of these references are irrelevant because the girl has a heavy metal soul. I don't have an issue with them comparing her to Jada Pinketts' band Wicked Wisdom so much because I can understand that.

This issue is obviously due to her race. Plain and simple. No tip-toeing around it. And she's a female.

I think the issue with blacks in metal-the core issue-is that we want to be treated just like every other metal head and not bombarded with these tags and labels that confine us to the place we are trying desperately to escape.

I know, that equality shtick is such an overused motif for the black race but in this case it is extremely important. I hate harping on this crap but every time I see a glimmer of hope in humanity I read a few comments on YouTube and am thrusted abruptly back into the ignorant mass consciousness that we live in today.

I guess I should say unconscious rather than ignorant. They don't think its a bad thing to say but its not necessarily good either. And, I realize its a "free" country-anyone can say what they want (behind the safe glow of a computer screen-much like myself) but, call me crazy, I always try to think about what I write or type before I commit it.

To black people (and the other enlightened handful) into the scene, the lead singer is just a pretty girl who fronts a mediocre metal band. That is all.

To everyone else she is a surprisingly pretty black girl that fronts a nu metal band that isn't that good but that's okay because she's fuckable.

And for the record if the girl is pretty, she MUST be mixed with something for the person to have found her attractive let alone human.
I even weep for females in general when I read the comments comparing her to bands that don't even share the same genre within metal but because they are both female fronted-we have to compare and decide who is better. As if females don't compare themselves to each other enough already.

A few more points I want to make:

*I realize that not everyone thinks this way. Most of the time when I generalize in the blog, I really mean what I believe the mass (as a whole) of metal heads are thinking. There are exceptions in every minority and majority.

*Not to call black folks out but like I've said before-we don't help our own situation. I'm definitely not saying anyone should contour to anyone elses' sense of standards. However, I believe if most people are stereotyping us a certain way-that may be an incentive to change a bit, yes? I know that's a hard pill to swallow but just think about it.

So, any black girls that read this blog, post your own ridiculous back handed compliments you've received and lets compare. I'm positive that you have gotten your fair share.

I will close by saying if at any point you have thought of saying any of these "compliments" to a girl/guy-regardless of race or have said them; perhaps you should edit either black, white, brown, yellow or girl/guy out of the sentence and rather put person, woman/man, or human being.

"I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man! "

Flavor of The Week: Vale of Amonition

I had forgot about this band until one of the followers (Thanks Kelly!), reminded me in a post about them.

Hailing from Kampala, Uganda- VoA is an unsigned prog/doom metal band. They released their first demo this past year called Curtain of Doom and The Broken Shield. There also may be a complete first album coming out this year.

It is very exciting slowly seeing all black heavy metal bands in the homeland start to pop up every now and then. It makes me feel like in the coming years metal will become even more diverse and interesting. We need to get these bands noticed in the metal world!

Unfortunately, it is very difficult hearing more of their music as I can't find other singles besides the one on their myspace.
If anyone has better sources, please list them below.

Yay or Nay? I want your opinion.

*I know, kinda hard to give your opinion with just those two songs on their myspace but, try to at least give a first impression. Besides, anything is better than Lord Toph. (Myspace) (Facebook)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The "Non"-Conformist Metalhead

Have you ever heard anyone say this?:

"I'm so metal, I shit steel!"
or this?
"I'm so metal, I shit studs!"
Or perhaps my favorite,

"I'm so metal I listen to troo underground metal like Lamb of God, Slipknot and Disturbed."

Perhaps you have seen individuals dressed mostly in black wearing a studded belt, faded t-shirt with some obscure (or not so obscure) band, tattoos, with dyed tresses?

Would it be safe to naturally assume such individuals listen to or partake in the metal or even rock culture? I would even say that the metal/rock culture decrees a certain 'look' to ascertain that such individuals are practically wearing a name tag stating 'Hello my name is___, and I'm into metal."

(Mind you, I said assuming. I suppose it could be interpreted as stereotyping)

I also believe that these individuals wouldn't be caught dead at, say, a Lil Wayne concert? And, on the flip side, I'm sure you would not witness a Timberland/BabyPhat donning, gold chain swinging, corn rowed person at a Cradle of Filth show, yes?

(Hopefully no one is at that show-but that's just my opinion. Sorry to the CoF fans out there)

I know many a folk who proudly explain to me why they are non-conformist and give me a 25 page dissertation on their reasons. And you know what I usually say?

"YOU LOSE! GOOD DAY SIR!" (*cue dramatic finger pointing)

...I really don't. But I should. Usually I listen to the self fulfilling dribble while in my mind I make my own list of reasons why this is absolute bullshit.

I rarely meet anyone who are non-conformist in the true sense of the word. That doesn't make them better or worse. Of course they never know that they are.

I'm not saying I'm innocent. Far from it. When Pokemon was huge in my youth, I flocked to see the show, movies and even got a gold plated Mew Two card complete with a pokeball stand from Mc. Donald's in my happy meal. Didn't you?

But most people generally have a 'follow the flock' mentally because to be outside of the flock is considered bad.

When examining the metal culture there are three main facts that remain true. Metal is male dominated. It is mostly straight and inherently white. Again, not a problem.

The issue is for the people outside of that.

The female metal head.

The gay metal head.

The non-white metal head. (Not only blacks, but Asians, Latinos, etc)

All minorities who have been persecuted in one way or another.

I received an email from Micheal Zinkowski, a lecturer at UNC Greensboro, who is writing a paper related to this topic called "Discarding Macho Posturing, Maintaining Sonic Devastation: Disidentification in Extreme Metal Subculture." I read the bit that he presented and was amazed because he illustrates exactly what I wanted to say in this post but couldn't find the right way to put it. Thankfully, he does:

"...The majority of the metal community remains white, straight, and male, who by and large live normative lives and whose identities are hegemonically powerful already. Rallying against the powers that be while refusing to acknowledge the inherent privilege already granted to many of its members leaves metal looking like a space of contradiction. Within this contradiction women, people of color, and queer folks may and do situate themselves as metal fans in order to access and reshape the power the genre promises, sonically and hegemonically."

"How do those in the extreme metal community who are not white, male, cis-gendered, straight, or able-bodied negotiate their identities within and against an individualist culture that effectively re-presents and re-affirms Western normative standards of masculinity, whiteness and heteronormativity and simultaneously performs as a counterpublic? How can the minoritarian subject claim a metal identity, thus “be metal,” without completely conforming to majoritarian standards of identity formation enacted by the metal community?"

The metal community is, lets be honest, a boys club. The controversial issues in metal generally focus around the female, gay, or ethnic presence in metal that is scene as the 'un norm'. How can a community that prides itself on being different alienate those who flock to it for that reason? Or even, abide by such rules as what the listener should wear/look like.
The individuality in this scene should be celebrated-not scorned.
(Again, not everyone does but many do)

I believe the answer is because metal was intended for one audience only. But now that globally its this huge subculture-it cannot be restrained to the normalcy that it once was contained by.

What that means is that all types of people are now enjoying metal music and are not necessarily bowing to its creed of what metal looks like, acts like, or even performs like.

I believe I've said something to the similar effect in a different post. Metal is already a minority so the community really doesn't have a choice to be picky in who is included or not.

(Thank you Mr. Zinkowski for letting me use your words/thoughts.)