I Was Eddie Munson, and You Hated Me
We love the Stranger Things resident metalhead, just not in real life
It wasn’t that it hurt getting shoved into lockers, but that it confirmed I was “the freak.” When checked into a metal grey locker while walking to class, some jock would sneer, “Watch where you’re going, freak!” Sometimes they’d call me “faggot” or “queer” depending on how malicious teens wanted to be. As the kid who liked guitar, metal bands, skateboards, and wore “alternative” clothes, my appearance and hobbies often attracted the vultures.
Early in the 1990s, I’d grown my hair down to my shoulders to reflect the hairstyles of the bands I loved. The one difference was that I parted it down the middle and straightened it each morning. The result was that it looked like I wore a brown mop on my head. My brother reminded me each morning that I looked like a girl standing in front of the mirror with a round brush and blow-dryer. Besides the “butt cut” (due to its resemblance to a butt crack with the hard part in the middle), I wore standard grunge and metal clothes: flared or ripped up JNCO jeans and shirts sporting band names or the naughty monkey, Curious George. Despite the humidity and punishing Oklahoma sun, I wore black jeans to cover my stick legs during the summer.
At church, I got singled out too for my love of the “Big Four” — Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. This was mainly because the style of music became synonymous with “evil.” For the unaware, when metal and rap began to dominate the mainstream market in the 1980s and ‘90s, Tipper Gore — wife of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore — formed a task force to inform parents about the determinants of explicit music. Her task force is the reason we still have the words “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” on album covers. Tipper focused on heavy metal, punk, and hip-hop. Metal, in particular, started becoming linked to the occult, and soon a wave of ill-informed hysteria swept the nation. The American Christian Industrial Complex latched onto Tipper’s fanaticism, linking metal with devil worship. Satanic Panic then captured the attention of the American populace once 60 Minutes aired an episode on the occult, securing metal music’s odd link to youth rebellion.