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'My Sub-Genre's Better Than Yours'

by E.W Hemmings 4 years ago in humanity
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Genre Elitism and Why It Sucks

This statement is a classic example of an attitude that is formally called genre elitism. Plenty of us are guilty of it in one way or another. Ever heard a rock or metal fan say that pop's no good? That's genre elitism. I've been known to say that too (though less now than I used to), but without it, I may have never found rock music after all. But what I want to talk about is a more harmful form of genre elitism, one that infects the heart of the rock and metal community, and that's when, ironically, we turn against our own genre. It's when the metalheads wrinkle their noses at the pop punk kids, or the emo kids, when the music that aims to unite us divides us. And, frankly, it sucks.

I know this so well because I experienced it. I was fourteen years old, just finding my way into the alternative world, and on one occasion I went into town with my friend and a bunch of other friends she had who were into much heavier music than I was. We went into an alternative clothing shop in the corner of town, and, having not had the chance to buy my first band t-shirt yet, I was drawn to a Pierce The Veil t-shirt on a rack in the corner. One of the girls I was with saw me and sneered: "Pierce The Veil are babies compared to what I listen to." And later, when I mentioned I had found a few heavier songs I liked (partially to defend myself) her response was simply: "Stop trying."

As you may imagine, it hurt. In that moment, I was made to feel like a poser, a fraud, just because I wasn't on her wavelength. Someone who could've (and maybe should've) held the door to the alternative world open to me bolted it shut and hung a sign reading "THIS IS NOT FOR YOU" from the doorknob. You don't forget the sting of that feeling, especially when it seems to stand against everything our culture should represent.

But it's not just my experience, and it's not as brazen as that either. It's commonplace in certain dark corners of the Internet we might know better as comment sections - those beneath posts on social media from music magazines can get particularly inundated with all of the negativity. And nearly always, it's the heavy attacking the soft, particularly if a band dares to 'deflect to the dark side'. Of Mice & Men, Bring Me The Horizon, Biffy Clyro, to name a few - apparently, in the eyes of some, if it's not heavy, it's not good, and I better not dare to mention bands who get played on the radio now. But here's the snag: this small-minded, slightly condescending argument has plenty of holes.

Good music is good music. Sometimes, genre doesn't even come into it - you get good pop songs just as you get bad metal songs, and vice versa. And what counts as 'good' and 'bad' varies for everyone, and to some, this subjectivity is what makes music in any form so beautiful. Besides, just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's completely 'bad'; it might not be your cup of tea, and that's absolutely fine. Aside from that though, perhaps the biggest thing that bothers me about genre elitism is - just why? Why do people feel like expending their energy on something that, stood next to real world tragedies - is pretty insignificant? Negativity is taxing for everyone, whether you're creating it or receiving it. It stops us putting our energy into things that will serve us better, and crucially, it drives out those people who are stood, right now, in my fourteen year old self's battered Converses. If an opinion isn't positive or constructive, does the world really need to hear it?

In short: if you love metal or hardcore, that's cool. If you love pop-punk or emo or anything else in between, that is just as cool. Be kind to each other, readers, and follow the advice of Chris Motionless: open your mind before your mouth.

humanity

About the author

E.W Hemmings

A novelist/feminist/aspiring music writer from the UK.

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