When Life Gives You Blondes; an essay on stereotypes in metal

There are at least six words I’d never in my life have expected to hear from the lips of a beautiful, young, blond girl in designer clothing: “Do you have any black metal?” – never the less, those are exactly the question that Tina posed the other day when she was visiting to pick up the key for her old apartment and borrow some music.

Just to be clear, I love the fact that she’s interested in broadening her musical horizons and I wholeheartedly enjoyed throwing everything from Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel over classic rock to extreme metal at her.. But let’s be honest, there’s still a hint of stereotyping at work here.

Just as people look at me and an (ex) long-haired, red neck, rock ‘n’ roll son of a gun in blue jeans and band shirts, and expect me to act and think in a certain way, I expect the rest of the world to act in a certain way. When I first went through the doors of the University of Southern Denmark’s campus Kolding, I didn’t expect to find too many people amongst the fancy in-crowd who’d be too into metal.. And I certainly didn’t expect one of the few I found to be the likes of Tina.. o_O

To be honest, my thoughts when I first saw Tina were – as when I first saw most of my beautiful and lovely female friends – along the lines of “Oh, she’s pretty, but I doubt I’ll ever even talk to her.” Now, if you’d told me back then that six years later I’d be standing on a balcony with this particular girl, doing jäger shots to the sound of some of Europe’s up and coming death metal bands while waiting to go bang our heads off to some hardcore thrash metal.. Well, I’d have called crazy talk on you and told you to go get your head examined.

Yet, apparently, the God of Thunder (and Rock n Roll) works in mysterious ways.. Tina and I became friends, we started spending more time together and, well, call me a bad influence but somehow Tina went from listening to pop/shock rock and hard rock from the likes of the Bloodhound Gang, Metallica and Nirvana to increasingly more obscure, complicated and extreme shades of the metal and rock spectrum.. She takes pride in denying my influence in her taste of music, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be listening to the likes of Slipknot and Five Finger Death Punch if it weren’t for me.

Fast forward a few years from the day we first met, and my tiny sidekick and I are running around all over Europe, catching shows with many of the biggest names in the business on the biggest stages there are, as well as some of the up and coming stars in dimly lit little venues.. And what, pray tell, Johan, is wrong with this picture?! I’ll tell you.. Nothing, of course! It’s just that.. Well, of all the people in the world I thought I might be doing this with, my first thought.. Or any though for that matter.. Would not have fallen on a 5 foot tall, blue-eyed, well-groomed blonde with an outspoken love for the color pink and things that sparkle.. It’s just not very metal! She’s just not the kinda person you’d expect to bump into in a mosh pit.. Yet, around me, she’s exactly the kinda person you might run into in a mosh pit and it makes for a hell of a lot of interesting reactions.

Of course, me being a guy, you’d think that having a beautiful and smart girl who just happens to be into beers and metal for a best friend is a pretty sweet deal.. And you are right, of course, but there are complications as well.. Now, just as I’ll stand by having publicly admitted that Tina is a very pretty young lady, and even, in a momentary spell of insanity, having admitted that pink looks good on her, I’ll also have to stand by having given her A LOT of shit and talked a lot of trash about the outfits she’s pondered on or decided on wearing to various shows.. Because, well, how on earth could someone possibly come up with the idea of wearing pink to a death metal show?! I mean, what’s wrong with her?? Metal equals black, that’s what the stereotype dictates! So just as I’ve struggled to understand and accept the fact that the girl really is into my lifestyle, I’ve probably struggled harder to accept the way in which she is into it: pink Yankees cap, sparkles and all! It somehow seems wrong and un-stereotypical!

And you know what, I think I get it now, I think that’s exactly the point! Metal, and the rest of the world for that matter, has become so damn stereotypical that you’re expected to act or dress in a certain way to fit into a certain subculture, or you’re placed within a certain culture based on the way you act or dress.. And what she essentially doing is taking a page from the book of Necrobutcher of Mayhem fame and going FUCK THAT, FUCK THEM and FUCK YOU (in a decidedly more charming manner): I’ll dress the way I want and I’ll listen to the things I want and I’ll have a damn good time confusing members of the general public and the metal sub-genre in the process. Yea, I know, took me a few years to figure that out. I’m a bit slow at times, but now that I do get it, I play along best as I can and have a great ol’ laugh on behalf of those who still don’t get it.

Now, I know that there are a lot of people who would argue that girls don’t belong in metal that neither does pink and that metals is a brothers in arms kinda thing.. To that I’ll simply say: If you don’t think girls belong in metal, look at Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy wiping the floor with most male vocalists in her genre. If Ivan Moody from 5FDP takes one look at your pink shirt and gives you the double horns up, then pink most certainly belongs in metal.. And well, you can have your sweaty brothers in arms and I’ll happily have another shot of jäger with my sister in arms.. And if you’re still not buying it, you’re probably just jealous because it’s me, and not you, that she’s getting shots for at the bar while I save our spot in the front row.. I may never have thought that Tina would be the person I’d be dragging to every other show around the country – or the continent for that matter – but I am happy to do so regardless of what people think and how they react..

But that’s still not to say that I wasn’t thrown back and perplexed by the sheer absurdity of this little blonde asking me about fuckin’ black metal.. I guess I can still be surprised.. Good show.. And Tina, you may be all tiny and blonde and pretty in pink, but you’re still a hundred times more rock n roll than a lot of people I know.. This one’s for you \m/

.. Now let’s go watch those Rammstein guys, eh?

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