Methodology Vulgar Display of Passion: Chapter 20


This Research Report examined the development of Heavy Metal music and the complexities of its subculture through historical research and media content analysis. Literature pertaining to cultural sociology, the musical genre itself, and specific artists have served as my primary research sources while other media productions such as audio components, lyrics, artwork, personal statements, websites, music videos, and merchandise have also been vital to this project.  In addition to extensive reference to my own personal music collection and previous experiences with the medium, I have also ventured outside my knowledge base to review new and additional materials for this study. Data collection from compact discs, DVDs, websites, magazines, scholarly texts and other media artifacts represent my most thorough investigation into the field as possible, given time constraints and length specifications of the project.

Most of the artists examined within this study have their basis in my long-standing personal interaction with the media, in that I have been a fan of many types of rock and heavy metal music since a very young age.  My initial attraction to heavy metal began during the late 1980s, when videos from Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard saturated MTV, and my older friends and neighbors exposed me to heavier bands like Anthrax, Sepultura, and Morbid Angel.  The emergence of grunge music in the early 1990s forced heavy metal out of the spotlight, and many other genres have become more profitable and popular due to the tumultuous nature of the music industry, but my, like most metalheads’, interest has remained constant, and even become stronger despite changing popular music trends.  Since my interest in this topic technically began so long ago, I feel responsible to proclaim that certain artists have directly influenced me through their art, and even catalyzed this entire project.  I have done my best to remain objective throughout my analysis of the media materials, and present my findings in a purely scholarly and analytical form.  Noted, I have framed my Discussion section in such a way that the beneficial (and often unknown) elements of the art form are expressed.  I have intentionally structured this section this way to achieve the main project goal of counterbalancing the consistent negativity toward the genre.  I was aware of the potential difficulties involving my affinity toward the medium, and individual artists in particular, in that the possibility of bias could emerge.  I have done my best, however, to offer as much information about the topic from both positive and negative views, providing extensive citation where needed.  Throughout this study, I have employed an extra-critical eye for unbiased and highly detailed data, particularly during the proofreading process.

My literature review for the historical research, cultural and sociological background, and media content analysis portions of this research paper are founded in textbook length research materials and periodical academic journal publications from cultural sociologists, psychologists and music scholars Deena Weinstein, Robert Walser, Jeffrey Arnett, Natalie Purcell, Ian Christe, Harris Berger, Peter G. Christenson, Donald F. Roberts, Philip Bashe, Scott Wilson, Bruce Johnson, Martin Cloonan, Keith Kahn-Harris, Craig A. Anderson, Nicholas L. Carnagey, Janie Eubanks, Mary E. Ballard, Steven Coates, Dolf Zillman, Christine Hansen, Ranald Hansen, James Leming, Brad H. Reddick, M.D., Eugene V. Beresin, M.D., Jon Trzcinski, John R. Vokey, J. Don Read, Jonathon S. Epstein, David J. Pratto, James K. Skipper, Paul Verden, Kathleen Dunleavy, Charles H. Powers, Simon I. Singer, Murray Levine, Susyan Jou, Douglas Gentile, George H. Lewis, Amy Binder, Karen R. Scheel, John S. Westefeld, Eric Lacourse, Michel Claes, Martine Villeneuve, Graham Martin, F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., Michael Clarke, M.B., and Colby Pearce, all of which I analyzed between August, 2007 and March, 2009.   Supplemental materials in magazines, websites, conversation, and parasocial media interactions also occurred during this time, but are too exhaustive and often too diminutive to include here.

For the Discussion section, I have evaluated an assortment of case studies in various heavy metal subgenres that use media art to create and promote positive cultures and commentaries by focusing on three broad parameters of message style; Social Awareness, Well-Being, and Spirituality.  Full book-length documents have been written on many of these artists and their musical subcultures, so I had to assign a certain set of limiting parameters to dilute the larger selection of artists for my case studies.  I will feature several artists as paramount representatives for each broad topic based on their influence within the genre, their musical timbre, intelligibility or unintelligibility of lyrics, and graphic depictions with band logos and album art.  Some of these artists also have foundations in more than one of these categories, so their inclusion in multiple sections of the research is necessary at times.  These materials are listed in the Reference and Appendices sections, and include album artwork, song lyrics, T-shirt designs, Internet image searches, and numerous other types of media.  An overall summary of my findings will serve as a Conclusion, and I will also offer a selection of topics related to heavy metal for future research.

Links to all references can be found here:

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