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June 7, 2012

Ask a Metalhead: They Think I’m A Satanist

Ask a Metalhead, Tr00 Metal Life

steffmetal-teenage-Metalheads

Dear Steff Metal

guess you might have this question asked a lot, but why are people afraid of metalheads? Everyone at my school thinks I’m a Satanist/illuminati member (I find it funny) and they think I’m stupid without even talking or getting to know me. So I’m just curious why do most people think like this because the funny thing is – I’m going to a better university than most and the people that know me will tell you that I’m one of the smartest and nicest people they know, even if a bit eccentric :). Did you ever have to deal with this when you were in highschool.

P.S. After all these years of obscurity the head cheerleader wants to go to prom with me lol, all because we randomly walked home together on account of we live in the same area XD.

***

First of all, congrats on the prom date!

There is a truth, universally acknowledged: High school is hell for any marginalized person.

Metalheads count as marginalized because, while metal is quite popular, it’s definitely not at the level of pop music, cheerleading, sex, drinking, and Christianity, and other things mot teenagers are keen on. Metal is also the kind of music that appeals to a certain demographic and personality type. Talk to metalheads the world over and you’ll find most of us the same: a bit reclusive, a bit nerdy, passionate to the point of obsession, and generally desiring a decent pint of beer.

steffmetal-teenage-Metalheads

There are media perceptions of metalheads, which in the US are often connected to high school shootings, Satanists and crime. In other parts of the world, it’s different – in NZ most media presentations of metalheads are of “westies” or “bogans” who are thick as extra-thick wool-blankets and love getting stoned and trying to fix cars that ain’t broken. I think in Europe where metal is more mainstream metalheads are often presented as quite drunk and obsessive, bu European metalheads correct me if I’m wrong.

A lot of parents worry about their kids falling in with “bad” people, and that includes people who wear black clothing and listen to “dark” music in general. They believe that means we’re into dark stuff and are in fact “dark souls” ourselves. There’s a lot of rubbish in people’s heads that they’re fed through their parents, through friends and religious leaders and politicians and TV that have a HUGE influence on their thoughts and actions toward others. All these different thoughts and perceptions are crashing around in people’s heads and they’re not even aware of them.

When you hear someone call you a Satanist, what you’re hearing is them being an ignorant fuck, which is not actually their fault. You’re probably the first metalhead they’ve ever come across. The very fact that you’re A) Alive, B) Intelligent and C) All up in their face forces them to confront their perceptions of what you are. They need to place you in a little box in their head, like the sorting hat at Hogwarts but there’s no magic and no one is as pretty as Hermione. So usually you go into either the “Scary People” box or the “People who make me feel inferior so I have to bring them down to my level” box. Metalheads don’t usually go into the “Invisible” box because the way we dress and act tends to be quite confrontational – you can’t help but notice us, especially at high school.

The metalhead as Satanist is a cultural stereotype, and we’re all guilty of making them. (Asians are bad drivers, Muslims are all terrorists, women are crazy). Every time you see an Asian driving badly, it reinforces in your head the fact that they can’t drive. You don’t see the twenty cars driven by people of Asian descent who zoom past at normal speed, well aware of the road rules. Every time you see a metalhead wearing a t-shirt with a pentagram or a devil driving a motorcycle, it reinforces your concept of him/her being a satanist. Especially since that devil is probably not wearing a helmet.

The truth is – nothing you say or do will in and of itself stop people from thinking or saying stupid stuff about you. And this kind of thinking will probably follow you well into your adult life. What can you do?

Remind yourself that what other people say has no bearing on your reality.

Mock them about it. Sometimes if you want people to leave you alone, the best thing you can do is have them think you’re sacrificing goats in your weekends for real.

Talk to other metalheads from other schools, online, or other marginalized people from your own school. You’ll find most of you will share the same experiences. Having this little group of misfits who all know what it’s like can really help if you feel lonely.

Look forward to college, because it is going to be very, very different.

Did I ever have to deal with this in high school? You betchya. I wasn’t an out-and-out metalhead till I was 15, but I’ve been bullied pretty much since I was six years old because I’m blind and weird. Add metalhead and girly-swot on top of that, and you’ve got a whole combination of teenage angst I won’t bore you with.

How did I handle it? Probably not brilliantly. I spent about 3 years trying to be “normal”. This is a stupid thing to do, because normal people are actually smart enough to see through this. Dressing yourself up in the right clothes and saying the right things and listening to the right music doesn’t make you one of them – and they know it long before you do.

Then I spent a year being depressed about it. That and a whole bunch of other stuff. That wasn’t a fun year.

Then I got over it and realised none of it mattered. Not one bit. People will think what they like and I was a fool if I let what they thought influence my life. So I stopped caring. Yes, you do get a lot of shit, but remember everything they say and do only makes you a stronger person. That – and reflects on their own ignorance.

I also helped to form a large social group of marginalized people at our school. My friends came from a whole range of different weird groups – metalheads and goths and drama geeks and Christians and people with disabilities and people who were too intelligent to get swept up in all the bullshit. Sure, a lot of them hated the music I listened to, but they understood what I was going through. I had more fun with that crazy group than any of the “cool” crowd had at their parties.

And then I got to university, and met more and more marginalized people, and formed my own little community of misfits and metalheads. And now I’m inching closer to 30 and have a super-close group of amazing friends who all share these same experiences.

In conclusion – high school SUCKS. Try not to let it get to you. When it’s over you will look back on all the ridiculousness and smile. And learning to let the things people say roll off your back makes you more metal.

Readers, any advice for our young friend in the comments? What would YOU say to someone who accused you of being a Satanist?

 

10 Comments on “Ask a Metalhead: They Think I’m A Satanist

Alice
August 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I started going to college, and now have to deal with people way older than me (I’m 18, and a girl) who were supposed to have a mature mind, bullying me because of how I dress and because of my ideologies. My philosophy teacher asked us who did not believe in god, and I was the only one who raised my hand in a class of over 90 people. So of course, I was labeled as satanist within the first week. They made mean comments about me, and it was as if I was some kind of demonic aberration that should be kept away. I felt bad. As a black metal fan, I secretly wished I could throw all of them to the lions just like in the good ol’ days. But reading this post I realized that I should feel nothing but sorry for them. And the fact that there are people dealing with the same problem makes everything much more bearable. I have no one to talk to about this, so this was extremely helpful.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Steff. I admire you a lot.
Cheers.

KtB_Insidious
August 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

There’s nothing wrong with being a Satanist anyway. There’s an old saying “let them hate, as long as they fear.” Steff’s right, let them think you’re sacrificing goats and burning bibles! It’s better than being considered ‘goth’.

ionaaaah
August 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

oh, reading this made me feel weird and oddly guilty, see i’ve always had a group of good friends who’ve generally been in with the cooler crowd. when i started dressing differently and listening to ‘that strange guitar music’ everyone just accepted it as me being me, i never actually spoke to ‘the nerds’ during my whole school-life.actually when i try to chat to nerdier people out of school they make snide remarks about me being thick just because of the way i act and the people i hang out with.:( (actually im an A* student in everything except maths) im not sure whether i should feel happy about never experiencing bullying because of being the different kid, or if i should feel upset that my mates prefer talking about makeup and gossip to corpsepaint and metal, because not being able to talk about things i actually care about to people who actually understand is kinda depressing.
^umm sorry for rambling :S aha:P

Elizabeth
July 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

Well, I’m starting high school in early September. Pretty much everyone knows I’m a metalhead, but I have the greatest group of friends I could ask for. Considering how small I am I find that a couple of them seem rather protective of me, yet I’m still worried. People at my school seem to hate us purely because we’re different, and that has led to fights before. I think being excluded by normal kids has gotten to be normal for me, especially since it’s been that way since first grade.

steff
August 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

@Elizabeth – that’s pretty much my memory of large chunks of high school – being excluded got kind of normal. Fights are scary though. We had a few really scary instances between us and the popular kids, or us and hoods (because we were also drama geeks and a bit weedy and geeky). Largely the way to avoid fights is to just ignore everything you say and walk away, tempting as it is to yell shit back. You sound very lucky to have such awesome friends – and you know how special they are. Don’t let them go – you’ll probably be friends with some of them for the rest of your life.

Joshua Russell
June 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hail Satanas
Lucifer
He walks among us, everywhere.
The lord of darkness is the light, his throne of diamonds the most high.

Ray
June 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm

People are freaked out by the music I listen to sometimes. They come crawling back when it’s time for finals and I’m the only one who can make them understand the material.

Zorawar
June 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

thank for the pick me up, and hell ya looking forward going to uni. Just 2 hours away from the most metal city in Canada— Montreal. :) , and i do let them think im all evil and stuff its prty fun.

steff
June 12, 2012 at 12:41 am

@Zorawar – this is good to hear. You are going to have a blast at uni \m/

Altáriel
June 8, 2012 at 10:48 am

High school sucks for those who dare to be different. I was not much into metal until the final year of my high school, but I was (am) a big time sci-fi, fantasy and comics geek. Didn’t enjoy going dancing (the music- the horror!) and didn’t have money to spend on fashionable clothes since I spent what little I had on comics. Add getting good grades with no effort, an introspective personality, big unruly hair, a long italian nose and an acne problem and you get a nice bullying magnet. I wish I had had metal in my life back then. Metal has been the turning point for me. Helped me take all those things (minus the acne, which at 31 still shows up from time to time) and use them as strengths. But back then they were throwbacks.
I would advise to ignore those who will not change their minds even if they saw you rescue an old lady from a fire, while balancing a basket of kittens on one hand and a baby on the other. They would probably think that she’s an evil witch and you are going to sacrifice the kittens and eat the baby afterwards.
What is really important is not to let their opinions reflect on you on the years to come. When I started university I had al these preconceptions on how no one was going to talk to me, how they would make fun of my hair, how they would consider me a nerd, etc. I faced new people with those misconceptions about myself, and that way I made them real. It took many years to get out of that for me, and from time to time I fall into it. Again, metal helped a lot.
You are starting a new chapter of your life, where you will meet a lot of people, people who will not necesarily think like your schoolmates do. Keep that in mind. Also, you will be meeting these people as an adult; they will not have seen you grow up like your schoolmates have. There’s a lot of baggage they won’t have. They will know you as the person you are now, not whoever you used to be.

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