Blog Post 2: Heavy Metal Material MAKEUP

As Professor Posner and Dustin might recall, I was not given a login to the site until week 3 so I couldn’t post these blogs when they were due. Here is my makeup post.

For this week’s blog post, I looked at the “Collection of Heavy Metal Material,” which according to its abstraction, is a “collection of published works, archival material, and ephemera related to heavy metal music and fan culture.” More specifically, “the collection gathers published works, musical recordings, and ephemera related to the heav ymetal music genre from the late 1960s through the present.” It includes biographies and autobiographies of the musicians, history of the heavy metal genre, and magazines related to it. The collection also includes some 600 fliers from shows in the LA and SF areas, along with backstage passes, t-shirts, photographs, and scrapbooks. The Recording series includes vinyl records, audiocassettes, and compact discs, some of which have been signed by the artists. The collection is organized thusly: series 1 is books and DVDs; series 2 is show fliers; series 3 is photographs, ephemera, and memorabilia; series 4 is fanzines; series 5 is magazines; series 6 is recordings.

One of the historical narratives that came to mind while viewing this finding aid of heavy metal music is its sheer popularity and importance in the cultures that it affected. It started in the 1960s and reached its peak in the 1980s-1990s. The genre and its artists are still somewhat popular in the present day, but this is not the music that is mainstream in our current generation. An entire generation grew up knowing and/or listening to this genre of music and some of us still listen to them today. In fact, many of these artists from this thriving decade are still actively producing music and touring. I personally have never listened to this genre of music, but I still know the names of artists like Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbeth, and Iron Maiden to name a few. The fact that the artists of this genre are known to even me speaks volumes for the impact they had and still have in our culture. While this finding aid has an incredible amount of material on the musicians and the history of the heavy metal music genre, it doesn’t necessarily tell someone the IMPACT of this music genre on an entire generation and beyond. Most of the more intriguing items in this collection document only the artists and the history, but what about the concert goers and the album buyers who supported these artists? What did they think about this cultural phenomenon and how it affected them and the generation they grew up in? How did it shape this generation who grew up going to these concerts and buying records and listening to this type of music? In essence, what is the ripple effect for the entire culture from a fan’s point-of-view? I’m interested in these questions because recently hip-hop and rap has become the mainstream genre, particularly the type that glamorizes and endorses a dangerous hedonistic lifestyle. I think these gaps could be lessened by having general fan accounts of the phenomena sweeping their times and fans recounting it sometime after it.

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