To Put the Geek Back in a Metalhead

My fellow millennials love to toss around the labels, nerd and geek; we’ve entered the era where it’s not frowned upon to be dubbed as either of the two, and that’s great. Any time folks embrace their individuality (to certain extents, of course), I’m all for it. One thing has not been clear, though. Is there a barrier between general geekiness and being a music buff–a heavy metal music buff?

I’ve been wondering whether geek is a fitting title for those who really, really love all things heavy metal. In case you’ve been pondering the modern definition of geek, you might want to check this out. According to Dictionary.com, a geek is considered as,”a person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity”.

And, let’s be honest. A great number of metal fans embrace the obsessiveness of all things metal, whether that entails frequent show attendance, clothing, accessories (patches, bracelets, etc.) or simply churning out impressive amounts of knowledge about their favorite bands. With that stated, can geek be applied to metalheads? Under the definition of obsessiveness, yes, why not? In terms of the level of embracing geekiness, I’m not so sure.  

The nature of geekdom is extraordinary. Nonetheless, the ways it’s depicted sometimes excludes other kinds of obsessives (and sometimes) eccentric obsessives. What about other types of geeks? When people, mostly folks in my generation, start throwing labels within the oddball side of society, the typical tags emerge: Sci-fi, anime, rare films, technology, cosplay, and the list continues. Even Merriam-Webster’s definition of geek, epitomizes (forgive me, techies) the tendencies by labeling geeks as, “an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity”.

Artwork for Lordi's "The Arockalypse." Image courtesy: nuclearblast.deLordi being Lordi in their artwork for The Arockalypse. Image courtesy: nuclearblast.de

A great number of metalheads seem to embrace the oddities and freak shows that swarm throughout metaldom, whether it be lyrical or costuming, or (as I wrote earlier) just digging into the origins of band A or B.  Many moons ago, geek was understood as someone who was, well, brutal, considering Webster‘s other definition for geek, which is, ” a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake”. Quick.  Somebody call Ozzy.

Metal culture has come a long way, since it began to stylistically take shape decades ago; no longer is it viewed through a narrowed lens, solely concerned with macho personas. Generalizations are being dissolved and metal is having a global recognition. Females are taking the stage and, hey, black females, like myself, are proudly avid listeners and supporters of bands.

I understand that loads of metalheads can be just as likely to be interested in oddities as someone who loves their Star Trek or someone who spends a weekend reading manga; even Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) sang about tons of tales that are, let’s face it, on the geeky side.
Can geeky be found in artwork for Dio’s Sacred Heart? Image courtesy: amazon.com

With geeky-natured people popping up and embracing themselves wholeheartedly these days, metalheads don’t seem to be represented much within geekdom; then again, much of metal is about non-conformity and individuality. Whew. It feels like I’ve come a long way from my previous piece about geek culture.

Whether with a negative or positive connotation or not, geek seems to be an appropriate label for someone who is heavily into metal, at least, I think it is. Do you think the word, geek is fitting for a metalhead? 

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