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Accept(ing) the other (Metallic[a]) hypermasculine image: Case studies towards an alternative understanding of hypermasculinity in the aesthetics of 1980s heavy metal

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Machismo and other thematic representations of masculinity have informed much of the scholarly research into 1980s heavy metal’s aesthetics. Although some studies have provided more substantial insights than others, the discourse has largely been shaped by scholars who criticize 1980s heavy metal because of its (hypermasculine) thematization of sexism and misogyny. However, on closer inspection hypermasculinity manifests itself in 1980s heavy metal’s aesthetics in more ways than simply through sexist and misogynist themes, but these have largely been ignored by the discourse. As a way of bringing 1980s heavy metal’s hypermasculine aesthetic into sharper focus, this article garners a closer look at how hypermasculinity was used as an important idiomatic hallmark. It provides examples of bands, songs and albums with ‘alternative hypermasculine’ aesthetics, and elucidates how other macho themed subtexts were just as important as sexism and misogyny in defining the genre. It also argues for a paradigm shift in how scholars evaluate 1980s heavy metal’s hypermasculine aesthetics in general. This article will be of interest to scholars of critical musicology, cultural studies, decade studies, gender studies, historiography and metal music studies.
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Keywords: Accept; Metallica; aesthetics; alternative hypermasculinity; homoerotic; hypermasculinity; misogyny

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leeds Beckett University

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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