So, we’ve all seen the swathes of useless degrees that people have put out over the years, ranging from degrees in the Simpsons, Elvish through to playing Playstation. But, I wasn’t expecting to see a PHD in heavy metal pop up. A degree in music sure, even with a genre focus on heavy metal seems reasonable, but going the whole hog to be a Dr of heavy metal seems a bit like a cheap publicity stunt offered by the university rather than something that’s actually of use.
And just to confirm that this is definitely a publicity stunt, it’s coming along with some other “interesting” courses as part of a scholarship program. Almost as if someone in the universities marketing department could’ve run the numbers on the costs to teach these against buying the advertising space this will get and come to a conclusion.
The University of Newcastle in Australia will host the two fully-funded PhD scholarships (or one international PhD scholarship) to study either “the Geographies of Homelessness, Veganism, Unschooling, or Heavy Metal,”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with heavy metal, we love it here. I’m not even saying there’s anything wrong with studying it, certainly it’s relevant as part of a musical education in general. It does however irk me that these sort of courses exist to the level of doctorate and that these incredibly specialized doctorates exist for no other reason than marketing, and perhaps offer a job in the occasional role as a specialist pundit on a news program, the later being where I see this going and when you look at the course topics, where I see an impending issue, beyond it being a bs degree.
The PHD in heavy metal currently seven main points currently outlined in the prospective PhD, which show a focus in understanding Australia’s relationship with metal in both a local and international sense:
• “What sorts of lyrical themes have Australian Metal bands adopted? Are these culturally and geographically unique to the continent?”
• “What is the relationship between the cultural evolution of Heavy Metal in Australia and colonialism?”
• “Is Heavy Metal in Australia largely a white phenomenon? What has been the response to diversity within the scene?”
• “How is gender negotiated within the Metal scene in Australia?”
• “What sort of reputation do Heavy Metal fans have within the Australian context? Does this impact the types of spaces that Heavy Metal fans can utilize?”
• “How has the geography of Australia in proximity to other scenes contributed to or hindered its cultural uptake?”
• “What is it about Australian Heavy Metal that makes it distinctive?”
Maybe you disagree with me, but it seems to have a bit of a study aimed at why Heavy Metal in Australia isn’t diverse/PC? That’s also not really something that I want to see injected into the music scene past what it already is, and the last thing it needs is some probably rank amateur musicians, who never had any chance of “making it” philosophizing on why there aren’t enough women in heavy metal bands. Because, if we’re being honest the only way anyone will make a living off of having a degree in a field like this will be through finding something to evangelize over and anyone who has followed modern politics can probably see where this one is going to lead the graduates.
Again, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to see more women in metal etc, hell the more the merrier in general as far as I’m concerned. I just don’t really want another pompous ass hat weighing in on a conversation with some accreditation that mean (to me at least) less than the professionals in the field.
So in short, this whiffs of a publicity stunt that is going to create a few people moaning about the metal scene and how it’s toxic to women and minorities (thus probably putting people off).
And yes, I know we’ve taken the bait and talked about it, win for the marketing team.
So, on a lighter note, what’s your favorite BS degree? If you were to do a thesis on heavy metal, what would it be? Comment below.