Theatrics of Hate Speech

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Vivek Venkatesh PhD

Vivek Venkatesh est professeur agrégé de sciences de l’éducation à l’Université Concordia. Scientifique interdisciplinaire spécialiste de l’apprentissage appliqué, il étudie les facteurs psychologiques, culturels et cognitifs qui influent sur la conception, le développement et l’adoption inclusive des médias numériques en contextes pédagogiques et sociaux.


Exploring the language and spectacle of online hate speech in the black metal scene. Developing theoretical and methodological intersections between the social sciences and humanities.

Venkatesh, V.,  Nelson, B. J., Thomas, T.*, Wallin, J. J., Podoshen, J. S., Thompson, C.*, Jezer-Morton, K.*, Rabah, J.*, Urbaniak, K., & St.-Laurent, M.* (in press). In N. Varas-Diaz, & N. Scott (eds). Heavy Metal and the Communal Experience, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 



Instances of racism and hateful comments via online forums and public commentary on online website for media outlets are not a new phenomenon (Hawdon 2012; Hughey and Daniels 2013; van Dijk 2000, 1997, 1992). The broader extreme metal music scene has seen its fair share of online hate speech of the misogynistic, racist, homo/trans-phobic and religious variety, amongst many others (Venkatesh, Podoshen, Perri & Urbaniak 2014). This chapter presents an analysis of several paradigm cases of online incidences of hate speech in the extreme metal community, namely, an anti-semitic weblog run by erstwhile Norwegian black metal musician, Varg Vikernes; discussions around an anti-Islam Facebook post made by Norwegian black metal band God Seed; as well as several reddit and forum feeds that discuss black metal, racism and National Socialism. 

From pride to prejudice to shame: Multiple facets of the black metal scene within and without online environments.

Venkatesh, V., Podoshen, J., Perri, D., & Urbaniak, K. (2014). In V. Venkatesh, J. Wallin, J. Castro, & J. E. Lewis (eds.) Educational, behavioral and psychological considerations inniche online communities (pp. 364–388). Hershey, PA: IGI Worldwide. 



This chapter presents an in-depth qualitative study of the inner workings of one niche extreme metal scene, namely black metal. Using data from the physical as well as virtual black metal scenes, the study explores how scene members manifest the tensions between their personal and communal identities, as  well as how they negotiate the propagation of racism and xenophobia, both within and without online environments. The netnographic analyses presented draw on black metal scene members’ interactions in online forums and blogs showing sustained activity over an extended period of time, some spanning well over a decade-and-a-half. The authors also draw on data from observations at several concerts and festivals in North America and Europe, as well as personal, written reflections from an extreme metal music journalist who has struggled to find a balance between his appreciation of black metal music and some of the overt racism and violence propagated in the scene. Additionally, they present analyses from a series of interviews conducted with 12 black metal artists and fans from all parts of the globe. The authors cautiously contend that online interactions between members of niche music scenes such as black metal, wherein individual and collective identities are partially informed by xenophobia and  

influenced by socio-political structures, when extended to the larger populace through the publicly available Internet, can potentially serve as paradigmatic cases of how otherwise self-contained racist chatter could influence the larger public exposed to these transgressions to consider adopting racist ideologies. 


Eschewing community: Black metal.

Venkatesh, V., Podoshen, J. S.,Urbaniak, K., & Wallin, J.J. (2015). Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 25, 66-81. DOI: 10.1002/casp.2197. 



There is a great deal of literature that examines community orientations, in particular consumption- based subcultures rooted in the appreciation of music scenes such as heavy metal and its subgenres. Much of this literature focuses on aspects of community maintenance, reaffirmation of shared identities and building of social bonds. In the present article, we report a study in which consumption of, and fandom in a specific scene in extreme metal, namely black metal, may lead to very unique consumer cultural orientations. Our analyses reveal that black metal fans’ identities reside in a realm outside of a desired collective identification and tightly knit community, but rather one that uses signification , or representational means to convey meaning and belonging, as a way to signal repugnance with society and a reverence of individuality. The study engages a mixed qualitative approach utilizing interviews, observational research and content analysis to demonstrate how self-identity related to the black metal music scene can thrive through an ideological and semiotic rejection of traditional community orientations seen in the majority of other extreme metal music scenes. This paper challenges traditional conceptualizations of group identity in music scenes by closely examining aspects of signification and fandom in black metal that represent a unique system of shared identities devoid of community building.