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Moë ( /mo'e/ ) is a slang word referring to non-sexual feelings of love and caring evoked by certain metal musicians. A musician who commonly elicits such feelings is referred to as a moëkko, and features commonly associated with moëkko are referred to as moë features. Fans who are particularly affected by moë are referred to as moëcon, short for moëkko concupiscence. Though they are often confused, there is a distinct difference between feelings of moë and feelings of groupieism; girls want to sleep with Marty Friedman, but they want to take David Ellefson home and cuddle him.
edit Moë features
Although there is a lot of variation between moëkko, there are a number of features considered moë that are common to many, if not all, moëkko. As a moëkko evokes a feeling of older-sisterly love, the moëkko himself often resembles a younger brother character. Moëkko look young, have usually straight or sometimes naturally curly hair, smile innocently, and generally give the appearance of needing someone to look after them.
Physically, the most important moë feature is the baby face. Most moëkko are clean shaven (or rather, look like they would not be able to grow a beard if they tried), although there are exceptions. In cases where it is present, moëkko facial hair is soft and gentle, and does not interrupt the lines of the face. Moëkko generally have a hint of baby fat in their faces, but are thin in body, without being bony. Moëkko are soft above all else. In photos, the band moëkko will often stand in a decidedly deferential pose, head slightly down and arms clasped at the lap, in comparison to other band members. When a moëkko tries to look tough, it comes out cheeky at best. While such pussy features are generally undesirable, in the case of moëkko, they prodigiously become hard core and metal.
Personality-wise, moëkko are traditionally nice guys, easy going and willing to take abuse. This unwillingness (or inability) to stand up for oneself is what often invokes the protection instincts of the fans. Recent years, however, have seen a rise in the popularity of the Tsundere moë personality. Tsundere, a portmanteau of "thunder" and "deference", describes the personality of a moëkko who tries to act tough, but will show his true adorable self to the right woman.
edit A traditional moëkko
David Ellefson, long time bassist for Megadeth, is often cited as the embodiment of the moë ideal. David began playing bass at age 11, and hasn't aged since. He originally joined Megadeth because he was not old enough to buy his own alcohol and would always get carded. Described as "friendly", "kind", "laid back", and "adorable", David is not terribly concerned with such issues as creative control and writing credits, and is content just to play for everyone and make everyone happy.
In addition, David is often paired with Dave Mustaine, his older brother (or oniisama) character. Dave, unequivocally not moë with his gruff voice, scowling face, and aggressively red hair, is often portrayed as treating David in such a way that suggests that he experiences feelings of moë for the bassist. This serves to heighten David's moë attraction, as it implies that he is so moë that he can even affect members of his own band instead of just moëcon fangirls. (The moëkko / oniisama dynamic is often compared to the uke / seme dynamic, but true moëcon reject this comparison.)
edit Criminalkko-moë (The naughty type)
On August 10, 1993, Varg Vikernes stabbed bandmate Øystein Aarseth twenty-three times, killing him. The murder and his subsequent arrest led to a huge spike in his popularity as a moë icon. The internet, particularly the Japanese message board 2channel, fixated on Varg and "adopted" him, dubbing him Greven-tan and creating copious amounts of fan art in which he is often portrayed carrying explosives and wearing a hoodie with the word "NEONAZI" emblazoned across the front.
Before the arrest, Varg had already achieved some moëcon following, primarily as a Bandagekko-moë in part due to an adorable facial scar on his chin. His image was also aided by his love of Heinrich, his overweight cat. Heinrich is what is known as a "lovely item", a cute accessory to a moëkko that serves to heighten the moë. In this case, having such a large cat served to both make Varg look smaller and cuter by comparison and look like an animal lover, while distracting from the fact that he is a sociopath.
The criminalkko-moë type may seem a little contradictory at first; criminalkko-moë do not need protection in the same way tradditional moëkko do. Their moë appeal lies in the perception that they are misunderstood and can be changed with a little tenderness. Furthermore, while they are able to stand up for themselves, criminalkko-moë are often at odds with the justice system, which is portrayed as being far more harsh than anything traditional moëkko ever face.
edit Bandagekko-moë (The injured type)
The 1980s saw a rise in the popularity of the moë metal, or glam metal genre. Bands would feature multiple moëkko, and there was a push from record industries to sexualize moë. This led to a huge backlash from self-described oldschool-, hardcore-, and true-moëcon, and many believe that the moë type was ruined forever.
Out of this dark era emerged Rick Allen, quite possibly the most fetishized moëkko in all metal history. Originally one of the several forced moëkko in Def Leppard, Rick was a cute kid with a cute face, but didn't really stand out enough to attract the attention of most moëcon. Then, in 1984, Rick injured his left arm, and had to have it amputated. As Rolling Stone magazine put it, Rick was "flung from [his] car into the hearts of moëcon everywhere."
The bandagekko-moë type is perhaps the most appealing and accessible form of moë. Like an abandoned starving puppy, the bandagekko-moë is in obvious need of care. Most successful bandagekko-moë, such as Rick, persevere as musicians after their injury, displaying determination to overcome their problems on their own; nothing appeals to moëcon like someone who clearly needs help but refuses it, as it can be surmised (or fantasized) that the moëcon is the one person who can help.
Rick has remained popular throughout the ages, although his moë appeal has been profaned into a bizarre meta-moë. "TEH RICK" has become a popular internet meme, accompanied by an image of a penis with a single arm MS-Painted on. When Mcfarlane released a Def Leppard collection in 2005, Rick became a popular subject of figure bukkake, suggesting he is seen as more of an object than any sort of human. Many fans feel that this is okay, as this is how he started and his image has now come full circle.
As moë increases in popularity, the term finds itself attached to any and every attribute one might find endearing in a metal musician. For example, Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley is an oft-cited userkko-moë, and Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, a "trap", or a girl who growls like a man, is considered kkokko-moë (which is not to be confused with lesbianism - most moëcon will even argue that love between straight females is perfectly normal and straight, and remind you that moë is not at all sexual.)
Some moë types are associated with a certain "look" of a band, or a genre of metal. Heri Joensen of Týr is Vikingkko-moë, Abbath of Immortal is corpsepaintkko-moë, (Peter Criss of KISS popularized "neko-corpsepaint-mode", a variant of corpsepaintkko-moë that included cat-like features,) and Eicca Toppinen of Apocalyptica is classicalcellokko-moë. Lord Worm of Cryptopsy is commonly described as babybirdkko-moë, perhaps in reference to his consumption of worms on stage. To the confusion even of some more traditional moëcon, just about every possible feature will be considered moë by someone; Mortiis was once described as prostheticnosekko-moë by a poster on his official forum (although perhaps it fits better than one might think, as without his makeup, Mortiis looks a little like Minnie Driver, and definitely has a moë face.)
Many moëcon trace the roots of moë back to Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. Before joining Deep Purple in 1969, Ian played the title character in the Broadway rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. (Many note the similarities between Jesus and moëkko, and between Mary Magdalene and moëcon.) As metal began to grow heavier and more dark in the 70s, the moëkko were what remained most true to the genre's roots.
The term's etymology is unknown, but it is commonly believed to be a shortening of Michael Monarch, member of Steppenwolf and early moëkko. Another theory is that it comes from the Japanese word "moëru", to burn, in reference to the Frank Zappa concert fire chronicled in Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", or in reference to pyrotechnic accidents in general.
The leading theory among metallurgic psychologists with respect to the phenomenon of moë states that the feelings are the result of the female metalhead's repressed maternal instincts. The metal lifestyle does not lend itself to easily to settling down and having kids; fangirls are often more concerned with "getting back stage", "getting wasted with the band", "partying hard", and, of course, "moshing". As a result, female metalheads often remain childless until their late teens, give up their first child for adoption, end up barren, and don't adopt until their late 40s, when they realize their boobs are too saggy and no one will ever love them.
However, they are still girls at heart, and still require a certain level of cuteness in their lives. This is where moë comes in. A moëkko serves as a surrogate son, or "younger brother" so as to not make the girl feel old. The psychological effects of moë in this theory have been compared to the Westermarck effect. moëcon are violently opposed to sexual relationships with moëkko, because moëkko are innocent and pure. moëcon are content to look, but not touch. Well, touch, but like cuddling and petting (on the head) and stuff.
A competing theory states that moëcon are all closeted closeted pedophiles.
Noted feminist Joan Jett, at a lecture at Bryn Mawr College, once said "Moë disturbs me. It's all about being slight and defenseless while producing heavy metal. The problem is, you see, there aren't very many women involved in hard rock and heavy metal, and moë makes the problem worse; women in rock are getting pushed aside by moëkko. There is only so much room for indefensible, vulnerable musicians." No one at Bryn Mawr listens to metal.
Surprisingly, the most adamant criticism of moë comes from metal musicians themselves. Jason Newsted argues that moë targets the wrong people. "Moëkko are always the cute kids. There's this argument coming from moëcon that moë is the desire to protect, and to coddle, but that's clearly not the case. If you look at moëkko, they don't need it. They put on this sad puppy face, but that's all it is. It's an act. It's a sham. There are plenty of other musicians out there who suffer from abuse and hazing and all sorts of things, and no one gives a fuck, because we're ugly. Moëcon are all hypocrites and moëkko are all sellouts. Moë isn't metal. It isn't metal at all." In 2001, Jason founded the "Moë isn't Metal" (MiM) organization, but it is unclear if there are any other members.
edit Moë in Anime
Metalocalypse (往生時計:メテロカリプス), the 2006 anime series by famed director Hayao Miyazaki, features the character of Toki Wartooth (軍歯 とき), an archetypal moëkko character. Toki Wartooth (not a bumblebee) is a kind, innocent, child-like, brutal rhythm guitarist. Toki has a slightly combative but loving moëkko / oniisama relationship with lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf (taller than a tree), and is generally treated as a younger brother by the entire band, as demonstrated by this exchange from episode seven:
- Twinkletits: You just push little Toki around?
- Pickles the Drummer (doodily-doo, ding-dong, doodily-dodily-doo): Yeah. He lets us.
- William Murderface (Murderface Murderface): Yeah. He likes it.
Like many traditional moëkko, Toki is submissive, actively passing up creative control. His hobbies include the moë building of toy models and eating candy. He cutely, unknowingly, speaks in double entendre and affects a moë speech affection, in his case adding -s to many of his words, and adding the "Wowee!" interjection to most of what he says.
"When you love a character," Miyazaki says, "He becomes like a son to you. Toki is the son I never had. ::cough:: He's a good boy and he's respectful and he doesn't try to encroach on his father's work. But there's a problem with characters like this. When he's in my head, he's my son, but when he's in my show, he's everyone's son, and I can't protect him any more. Characters like this, they immediately become the subjects of pedophiliac fetishism. People will tell you 'moë' isn't sexual, but it's just a way for pedophiles to disguise their desire for little boy penis."
It should be noted that Miyazaki is a moëcon, who spends his vast animation earnings on a collection of metal paraphernalia, which he displays publicly at the Ghibli Museum.
On the other hand, Gorillaz!? has a number of moëkko characters (Stu Pot a.k.a. 2D, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs) all working for a single band leader / oniisama character (Murdoc Niccals), and is considered a moë-harem show. This genre is openly scorned by many moëcon, who feel such forced moëkko are an insult, and that Gorillaz!? isn't really metal anyway.