Kerrang! magazine and the representation of heavy metal masculinities (1981–95)

Spawforth-Jones, Simon (2018) Kerrang! magazine and the representation of heavy metal masculinities (1981–95). Metal Music Studies, 4 (3). ISSN 2052-3998

Abstract

Metal magazines have been shown to play a significant role in communicating and shaping heavy metal culture. And, since the masculinist nature of heavy metal is perhaps its most discussed and agreed upon feature, scholars have argued that heavy metal magazines also reproduce masculine hegemony. Focusing on cover images from Kerrang! magazine, this study utilizes a mixed methods approach to examine how heavy metal masculinities are represented over an extended number of issues (from 1981 to 1995). Utilizing existing scholarship on heavy metal magazines and drawing on celebrity identification theory, I argue that many of the prevailing studies that discuss heavy metal masculinities are essentially flawed in their reliance upon particular traits. Instead I show the ways that media images can come to both reproduce and resist masculine gender norms in the context of heavy metal culture. By considering how representations are formed over an extended period and in relation to particular heavy metal icons, I show that certain arguments and assumptions about masculinity and male privilege in heavy metal culture are oversimplified.

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