Week #1 Assignment: John Spiers

This post is intended to satisfy the requirements of the “assignment” portion of the Week 1 Assignments.

The beginning of any new semester is a time replete with the stresses of various forces, both external and internal. Concerns such as “will I succeed in my classes” take place in a world where little can seem predictable. A canceled textbook shipment can delay critical progress in a course. All in all, it’s a flurry of to-do lists and responsibility that can weigh on the mind. It was in this general mindset that I approached the Adult Swim television series Metalocalypse – and for better or for worse, I did find it affecting.

The series is premised upon the existence of a death metal band named Dethklok, who have for whatever reason become the most famous and powerful musical group of any kind to have ever existed. Their fans travel far into the frozen wilderness to hear them play a single minute long song designed to advertise coffee, while signing waivers that literally state they cannot sue the band if they die during the performance. The band is dropped from above in a skull cage that unfolds into a stage, crushing countless audience members. Coffee is poured into the crowd, literally melting the flesh from their bones as music blares out. After this hideous display, the coffee company’s profits become so vast that literally ever other coffee producer in the world goes bankrupt.

The show is a twisted mass of over the top dark comedy, dismemberment, blood, and music. There is a degree of satire present- a sort of frenetic commentary on the mindset of fans and consumer practices rendered through a canvas of steel and gore. It’s Beatlemania on steroids, to the point that shadowy government organizations are seen discussing ancient Sumerian legends that tell- presumably- of the coming apocalypse. It’s frequently gruesome, cringe inducing, and off-putting stuff.

Most of Metalocalypse’s effects on my person are liable to be temporary. There were scenes that made me feel vaguely nauseous, music that was disorienting (if occasionally catchy) and a general atmosphere of nihilism that I found unsettling. Buried beneath it all there is a kind of commentary on modern consumption. It is my genuine hope that the ideas contained within the series are not lost on its fans, though it is likely that the satirical messages are part of the appeal for a fairly decent chunk of the audience. (I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt in this case.) The imagery of Metalocalypse  is brutal enough that I do not especially want to reflect on it, but it is that same visceral tone that keeps bringing the show back to my mind. There is something to be said for that, as so many cultural critiques can easily slip from one’s memory after they are processed. This is a show that rejects easy digestion- it sits in the gut, festering, demanding to be acknowledged. I believe that I will be reflecting upon it for some time- regardless of whether or not I watch any more episodes beyond the three I viewed for the purpose of this analysis.