The idea about one’s self-identity is what drives their understanding of and behaviors in the society (Brewer). The identity is a product of the experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned, and so it keeps on changing (Pals). Language is the tool that helps in making this transition possible as it is the way a person interacts with the society. The changes that a person goes through are in this case dependent on the language he/she speaks and the response and acceptability of that language by the society. If the language is accepted the experience is positive, but if it is not, it creates problems that make it possible for others to deem him/her queer, weird, ugly, or uncultured. Anything that can be used to deliver a message is language, and as the choices, one makes about how to dress, what to eat, what to say and almost every action one undertakes delivers some form of a message about the person, so everything that he/she communicates through is language. Clothes are, therefore, language that delivers a person’s identity, choices and preferences and according to the cultural norms also show ones capability to become a part of the society (Lurie). The acceptance and rejection of the clothes or other such items that tend be meaningful depend on the way society views specific items (Davis).
Rock Music and especially the darker sub-genres of it like the heavy rock, heavy metal, alternative metal and shock music have had particular identities created for themselves that started somewhere in the late 60s and got prominent in 1970s (Gracyk). The identities were complete with extremely inhuman costumes and black and white makeup and dark clothing. The Persona of a “rock star” was perfected in many forms but one of the forms in that persona was heavy makeup and extreme costumes that showed the artists as inhuman as possible. The role of this form of made-up selves was to alienate the artists from the audience and create mysterious air about the artists, so their art form looks supernatural and out of the world.
The Corpse makeup has become synonymous with the metal rock stars all over the world. The Demon and the Starchild from the band KISS are mostly attributed to being the originators of the style, but there is no consensus on the matter. However, even if they did not originate the fashion, they did have a lot of role perfecting it as an art form and a persona for the rock star image of a shock rock and metal musician. The picture used in this paper for analysis is one of the examples of the general persona the two rock legends carried and developed for many of the following rock artists. Even though the makeup and personal dress choices differed a lot in many artists but the basic idea about making the inhuman and alienated form of music was what remained true to too many of the artists.
The clothes worn in the image are also quite relevant to the personas each band member assumed. The demon has the shoes made of a monster face and prickly thorns coming out of his pant legs. The tongue is hanging out of his mouth and hand is made into the symbol that is mostly related to Rock and Roll but sometimes by conspiracy theorists as the symbol of Satan. The makeup of the Demon is also quite significant as the black color on the white face is made into some winged animal. The dragon-like shape on his face implies his obsession with demons. The armor he is wearing indicates that he has to fight wars as he is a demon and is considered as a hostile and aggressive character. The whole aura of the demon is “demonish” whereas Starchild is fairly different.
The Starchild has a sparkly outfit that has all the “Girlish” qualities showing his persona of a younger variety as his name suggests. The fact that he is wearing a tights onesie with a wide neck showing his chest is also in a way indicative of his choices that are quite easily seeable form his name and overall character. The tights are embroidered with a fancy diamond-like lining made into a flowery design that seems to be girlish in the conventional terms but goes with his proposed persona. The face makeup is also made to look like a star, and the lipstick is an additional feature that is added to make him look more accurate as Starchild. The face pout is mostly connected to selfies that are also related to women even though a lot of men take them and a lot of women don’t. In the general concept, however, the face pout makes Starchild look feminine along with the ornamental ring (choker) around the neck.
The overall personas of the rocker all over the world have in many ways been the same as the darkness, demonology and extreme topics have been what a lot of them dealt with. Kiss and the Alice Cooper are mostly given credit for initiating that eventually lead to the corpse makeup as a persona. As it was one of the most dominant trends in the shock-rock music it can be said to have dominated many. The clothes, makeup and how they carried themselves became a language that became the voice of thousands of hearts and had an impact on many musicians and Music fans. The Shock Rock legends are attributed to being the ambassadors of post-modernism as they cracked the shackles of the norm and created originality on their own terms in their own language.
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Davis, Fred. “Do Clothes Speak? What Makes Them Fashion?” Fashion Theory: A Reader, 2007, pp. 148–58.
Gracyk, Theodore. I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity. Vol. 12, Temple University Press, 2001.
Lurie, Alison. The Language of Clothes. Random House Inc, 1981.
Pals, Jennifer L. “Narrative Identity Processing of Difficult Life Experiences: Pathways of Personality Development and Positive Self‐transformation in Adulthood.” Journal of Personality, vol. 74, no. 4, 2006, pp. 1079–110.
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