Critique As a controversial music genre, heavy metal music has made a strong influence on American culture and the mass media. While heavy metal’s popularity has increased, a growing number of fans have established a new youth subculture and devoted themselves into it. In the article “ Heavy Metal Music: A New Subculture in American Society”, Robert L. Gross introduces the heavy metal music and its subculture. He organizes his article in a good way in that he examines five aspects of heavy metal music and the subculture.
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It does not matter whether the readers know heavy metal or not; they can easily understand how the subculture was built and how it evolved from these five detailed aspects. In addition to some common issue such as social impact brought by the heavy metal subculture, this article especially elaborates on the economics of heavy metal, which is a rare discussed topic. Gross views heavy metal subculture as a financially lucrative subculture shaped by metal marketers trying to make profits through it.
His fresh viewpoint is interesting and worth of thinking. However, he has only few assertions expressing his opinions while the article is mostly filled with other citations. Besides, his assertions are obscure that make this article seems to be a good introduction to heavy metal but not a persuasive essay. First of all, I appreciate Robert Gross arranging these five aspects in a proper order. We can imagine these five aspects as five chapters in a textbook. These chapters are correlated and placed in a successively significant order.
He first introduces heavy metal from the origin and parameters of heavy metal, and then he further expands his ideas to the main point: heavy metal subculture, which includes metal fans, dispersed messages and economic components. Gross mentions the term “ cult” in the aspect “ the cult of heavy metal” to name and define those heavy metal fans in his own way. Subsequently he uses cult in the next aspect “ the message behind the metal” discussing how the “ cult” receives subtle messages from heavy metal.
At the end of this aspect, he indicates his perspective that heavy metal and its subculture are financially lucrative. Followed by the above-mentioned economic issue, the last chapter “ the economics of heavy metal” addresses the financial factors such as the marketing tactics and lucrative figures in heavy metal subculture. From these well-structured aspects, we know that this article is organized in a logical way. These ordered aspects lead eaders to read and understand the article step by step, thus making it easily understandable for every reader. Another great point of this article is that he objectively measures sources from both sides: on the one hand, he talks about the perspective from the culture within; on the other hand, he also pays attention to the attacks from outside. For instance, when he discusses the negative inspirations in the mental health of adolescents, he cites lyrics “ Not a woman, but a whore, I’ll either break her face” from Motley Crue’s song “ Live Wire”.
On the other hand, Gross cites comments from the outsider, Jennifer Norwood of the Parents Music Resource Center. Norwood said “ I am concerned with the growing trend in some music to degrade women, to show violence against women, and I am concerned because the audience for this type of music is mostly adolescent males. ” Gross makes the article objective and convincing. From the comments pros and cons, readers can compare situations from the supporters and attackers, thus likely convinced after they read what people on each side think.
To make the article more persuasive, Gross uses exact statistics as evidences. When he expresses that the fan magazines and newsletters have played greater roles in metal’s increase in popularity, he takes Circus magazine as an example. Circus, a teen music publication, had 62% of its contents devoted to heavy metal artists and only 10% devoted to non-metal artists. The example is pertinent to his point because he gives the precise figure that more than half of a non-heavy metal music publication was related to heavy metal.
The article is convincing through these numbers so that the readers would be likely understand his notion that proliferation of media has contributed greatly to metal’s increase in popularity. However, the article is somewhat limited. When he examines the demographic make-up of cults in heavy metal music, he particularly mentions an adolescent Caucasian male from a lower class background as an example. He indicates that the majority of this cult is adolescent, male, and Caucasian.
Although he cites from many radio announcers who has the same viewpoint concerning standard group of metal fan, he focuses only on this certain type person in the cult. Are all the metal fans adolescents, male and Caucasian? In my opinion, there are also many different people listening to heavy metal music, such as females and adults. For example, he mentions that the fans of Led Zeppelin are generally much older than the Anthrax fans. Where are these adult fans of Led Zeppelin he just mentioned? Therefore, I think that he fails to demonstrate some other types of people in the heavy metal cult.
Overall, the article is well-organized and understandable for any type of reader, whether they are involved in heavy metal music or not. Although the author makes a good introduction to heavy metal using different quotes and stories from heavy metal’s world, his assertions are not strong enough. And the other thing to be improved is that the author could spend more efforts on discussing various people in the heavy metal cult. If he has done so, then the article would be more complete and interesting.