(Hoisted from, of all things, a discussion of the cultural significance of Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”, and slightly expanded for clarity. Reposted here mostly because I’m amused by the idea of a deep metaphysical similarity between Bret Michels and Camille Paglia.)
On the one hand, there may be no argument in the world more intrinsically tiresome than “who is/is not metal?” On the other hand, props to UMD [another commentor] for making the case against Def Leppard without being a douche about it.
My 2 cents: if you don’t have an original manifesto to calibrate subsequent adherents against, you’re pretty much screwed when you talk about a “true” heritage of any cultural movement. This is why you can sometimes talk at least semi-intelligently about whether so-and-so is a Marxist or not, since Marx laid out his philosophy in a nice easy-to-digest way. Do you support worldwide revolution leading to control of the means of production by the class of industrial workers, a dictatorship of the proletariate and an eventual fading away of the state? If yes, congratulations, you’re a Marxist. If no, you may well be influenced by Marx’s ideas, but a Marxist not so much.
But much like feminism, metal didn’t have one single initial starting point, it had many overlapping ones: as a result, Andrea Dworkin and Sasha Grey could both credibly claim a legacy of “feminism”, and like it or not a whole bunch of wildly popular bands with ripped jeans and glossy production values could legitimately lay claim to a poppier “metal” sensibility that had its roots in Alice Cooper, AC/DC and Blue Oyster Cult in just the same way that Metallica grabbed the legacy of Sabbath, Accept and Motorhead and pummelled the mainstream into liking it…