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Art Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Transgender Tribute Bands and the Subversion of Male Rites of Passage through the Performance of Heavy Metal Music

By Georgina Gregory, 2012

This article looks at how by reversing gender expectations, female musicians are making use of musical texts associated with male artists to subvert and transgress the conventions of male bonding rituals at heavy metal concerts. Critics of tribute bands usually point to their lack of originality and their unashamed exploitation of other artists’ work. Indeed, many feel that this form of entertainment is responsible for limiting creativity and upholding a conservative hegemony of commercially successful popular music. However, this article shows that female tributes to male bands provide exciting opportunities for women to resist dominant cultural discourses, metanarratives and stereotypes, while allowing them to demonstrate their virtuoso music and performance skills. Previous studies of heavy metal music have uncovered the important role that this music and culture plays in providing a right of passage for young men and enforcing patriarchal masculinity. This article shows how female bands such as AC/DShe, The Iron Maidens and Lez Zeppelin use blank parody to disrupt the sacred codes of masculinity through their performance of gender and their enactment of the masculine-coded genre.

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