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Tuesday January 23rd 2018



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Opinion: Metal needs better cartoons

Do you want to be associated with these two every time you wear a Slayer shirt?

Watching television is probably the most un-Metal of past-times (our culture reveres active pursuance ["overcoming"], not passive acceptance ["undergoing"]), but in this modern age, the TV has become an undeniable fixture of the domestic sphere, and its influence can hardly be avoided. Herein lies the argument for the “Metal TV Show”: it’s the most public vehicle for Metal culture, so if you love Metal, you ought to be at least somewhat concerned over how it gets broadcast over those airwaves.

Here’s the piece of news that gave reason for this posting: REVIEWniverse has learned that scriptwriter Mike Judge is now working on 30 new episodes for his ’90s MTV hit series Beavis and Butt-Head, a cartoon show that followed the moronic antics of two teenaged metalheads in suburbia. Though Beavis and Butt-Head was eventually laid to rest after a few seasons and a [god-awful] movie, many people still fondly remember the show as a “brilliant” satire of small-town America and what they thought of to be the Heavy Metal subculture.

Brendon Small lives out his rockstar dreams…ironically!

The absolute bottom-caste of the Metal hierarchy might have honestly fit into the Beavis and Butt-Head stereotype, but in reality the ’90s represented a creative and intellectual peak for the genre: at this point, Metal musicians came to fully embrace their roots in Classical songwriting, and were able to adumbrate their nihilist philosophy with a degree of articulacy previously left unrealized. As such, was it really fair for Judge to take music videos from intelligent bands like Morbid Angel, only to have his cartoon headbangers offer the most vapid sort of commentary on them? If not, then should we just sit back and tolerate 30 more episodes of this defamation?

Judge’s inspiration behind resurrecting Beavis and Butt-Head probably came in observance of the success of Brendon Small’s Metalocalypse: a relatively new cartoon designed to capitalize on today’s internet-bolstered “extreme metal” mainstream. While Beavis and Butt-Head‘s storyboards were more or less centered around pure retardation, Metalocalypse is perfectly adapted to the modern hipster crowd with its ironic sense of humor. Even the very premise of the show is irony to the fullest: it’s about a brutal death metal/black metal band (“Dethklok”) that also happens to be the most popular band in the world, mindlessly and dogmatically worshipped by all (surely this is an allusion to that one smart-assed John Lennon quote about the Beatles being “bigger than Jesus”?).

Dethklok shirt

The most unfortunate aspect about Metalocalypse is that its irony spills over into the real world: Dethklok actually go “on tour” with the help of Brendon Small himself and some real-life personnel (this lineup notably [and agonizingly] includes legendary drummer Gene Hoglan– come on, G-Ho, how can you do this to yourself!?). They sell merchandise emblazoned with their logo in a manner imitative of real metal bands, except Dethklok will sell 300 shirts for every one shirt that Unleashed might sell– and bear in mind that Unleashed have toiled over 20 years just to distinguish themselves on the Swedish death metal front . They released two studio albums that both became the Billboard 200′s top-selling death metal CDs of all time, and were lauded by critics for such erudite and poignant songs as “Briefcase Full Of Guts” and “Murmaider”. This is the exploitation of what was once an artistic movement, sold as a novelty to people who cannot appreciate anything past surface value. This is despicable.

Unleashed shirt (for comparison)

Metal should have entertainment that genuinely celebrates the culture, without resorting to self-deprecation or ironic parody for mass appeal. But consumerist America seems to lack the capacity to think outside the sales pitch, so predictably, we’re going to have to look to the Nordic countries for a paragon of some sort. Specifically, Finland. And more specifically, Hevisaurus.

Granted, it’s not entirely convincing to cite a children’s band as an example against teenaged fare like Beavis and Butt-Head and Metalocalypse. Moreover, Hevisaurus don’t even have an actual television series; they only make Barney the Dinosaur-esque music videos. But unlike Barney, who is essentially Jesus Christ (or any other hippy) in reptilian form, Hevisaurus are Metal insofar as it is possible to be Metal in front of young children: they outfit themselves in more leather and spikes than the guys from Beherit could imagine, salute their audiences with the Dio horns, and sing surprisingly imaginative songs about warriors, dragons, and vaguely occult phenomena. Hevisaurus represent an appropriate caricature of the genre: they pull everything off with the just the right amount of goofiness, and without a hint of irony or idiocy. What’s stopping Beavis and Butt-Head or Dethklok from being honest caricatures in kind?

It’s not long ’til the kids move on to Demilich!

So, “metalheads”: stop pretending to like Beavis and Butt-Head and Metalocalypse. These shows are far more harmful than helpful to Metal’s public image, and — most damningly — they aren’t even particularly funny! In the meantime, make bootleg copies of Hevisaurus vids to give to your younger relatives, and don’t touch that remote control until some people get “the Metal cartoon” down right.

(Photo credits so that people don’t sue the site: (1), (2)Todd Fixler, (3 & 4), (5)


Reader Feedback

5 Responses to “Opinion: Metal needs better cartoons”

  1. Z.K. Dundon says:

    Hey Sledge; sorry for yet another ridiculously late reply!

    I agree; any culture — Metal included — needs to insulate its traditions to stay strong and most importantly endure against entropy. And yes, in this age, that entails ignoring the valueless, individualist mainstream.

    Though I don’t expect all those TV-addicts to understand Metal in the slightest, they should at least know that they can’t laugh at “the stupid metalheads” without some sort of backlash. And for that, we need all our constituents on the same page about these matters, which again is the aim of this article.

    Thanks again for the compliments, and I’m a girl, to answer your last question.

  2. Sledge says:

    ZK .. The Mainstream Robots will be the downfall of us all.. Great article and thanks for you viewpoint. I must also add its great to see that its not only guys spreading the metal .. (i thought you may have been female ..guys do not write as well as you do)

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