Heavy metal carnival and dis-alienation: The politics of grotesque realism

Karen Bettez Halnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Based on four years of concert fieldwork and extensive music media analysis (including bands such as Cradle of Filth, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot), this article shows how heavy metal music and its carnival culture express a dis-alienating politics of resistance. Applying Bakhtin's multifaceted conceptualization of the carnival-grotesque, the author explains how grotesque realism in metal music and performances constitutes a proto-utopian liminal alternative to the impersonal, conformist, superficial, unequal, and numbing realities of commercialism and, more abstractly, a resistance to a society of spectacle and nothingness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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