Over the past few years, we metallers have seen our special sigil—the goat horn—stripped of its significance (i.e., magical power) by clueless celebrities (Miley Cyrus gets it wrong first then gets it right second) and pop culture junkies looking add ‘edge’ to their persona. That ‘edge’ they seek is, or rather was, ours. True, I’ve seen movie and television stars in Maiden, Priest, and Baroness shirts, but it’s hard to tell if they, like us, revere those bands like gods or are meddling in mundane hipster irony. Probably the latter. Occasionally, the Earth parts and I feel ‘good’ about peeps in high places repping the darkest of metals—often willingly exposed by dB’s Closet Metalhead feature (see Jeanne Fury’s Cee Lo Green intie)—but usually my suspicions are confirmed. Dorks like Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Kid Rock show the maloik, as popularized by the late great Ronnie James Dio, for no other reason than to appear ‘dangerous’. Milk in cereal poses a greater threat.
Let’s be real. Metal has enjoyed a greater profile of late. That statement is anecdotal ’cause it relies on all kinds of data to be validated, but there’s certainly no problem with renewed interest or curiosity in the music form that has scared parents, religious folk, and do-gooders since the late ‘60s. In fact, metal requires generational rejuvenation to survive and evolve. Hell, if it didn’t, I know I’d be listening to Hall & Oates (Private Eyes, yes please), Olivia Newton-John (Physical, momma?!), and Duran Duran (Rio, oh yes). I’m sure everyone involved—fans, bands, labels, magazines, websites, etc.—appreciates higher visibility to the art they worship, create, promote, release, write about, and so on. There will always be metal naysayers—dudes who feel like they own the metal they like; there’s no reason to throw them into the abyss; yet.—but metal’s genre silos are so sub-divided and dispersed that the chances of a Taylor Swift or Christina Perri sporting a Nocturnal Graves or Nekrasov t-shirt are basically zero to none. They’ll be surface dwellers/scratchers for the lifespan of their career. I’m pretty fine with that.
Disingenuous appropriation of culture is where I draw the line. Perhaps to the kids who frequent Perez Hilton’s scourge of a website a black t-shirt with something cartoonishly hideous and a nearly unreadable logo screened on it, the event is noteworthy—as in LOLs and/or WTFs noteworthy. But cherrypicking this (the horns) or that (a metal band t-shirt) from a marginalized music culture and presenting it as a statement (mundane or profound, take your pick) is fouler and only slightly more offensive than Incantation inexplicably showing up hours late for their own Hall of Fame gig. True story, actually.
So, maybe it’s time we retire the maloik and the reverse maloik.
We’ll have to be intensely creative to come up with something new. Options are damned sparse. We’ll have to avoid sign language configurations—don’t want our new sigil to unintentionally translate to ‘cucumber’ or ‘fail’—and gang sign configurations—don’t want to be gunned down outside a club (hello, Harpo’s in Detroit) for hoisting our new digit designation—in our pursuit of a replacement for the oft-misused maloik. Whatever we come up with, just don’t let it be the Witchery ‘W’.
PS. Apparently, Miley knows a few Maiden songs. From her MileyWorld website: “I’m sure you all have seen me rocking an Iron Maiden shirt lately. I know there’s been some people saying, ‘Oh, she’s a poser,’ and ‘The only reason she’s wearing Iron Maiden is because she wants to be a rock star.’ So, Iron Maiden – ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Running Free’ – all good songs, check it out. So thank you, guys. I actually do like Iron Maiden.” Wonder how Billy Ray feels about ‘Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter?’ Anyway, mind = blown. If only a little.