+

Metal band Gwar is not usually associated with thoughtful social commentary.

Unless you're already a Gwar fan, you probably think of the band as "that crazy group with the freaky costumes and elaborately vulgar stage shows."

Actually, even if you are a Gwar fan, you probably think of them that way.


Gwar. I think. Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images.

For the uninitiated, Gwar is a performance-art-slash-metal band whose vulgar stage show and elaborate fictional mythology function as a kind of absurdist caricature of everything ever. Literally. There is nothing safe from their satire (or the bodily fluids that spray from the stage).

So you might be surprised to learn that the lead singer of Gwar recently gave a TEDx Talk.

And it's really good.

Dr. Michael Bishop, who gave the talk, currently plays the role of Gwar's lead singer, the berserker Blothar (or, as he puts it, he is the "human slave" of Blothar). More importantly, he has a Ph.D. in music from the University of Richmond, with a particular interest in ethnomusicology (basically, the cultural and social context around music).

He's a pretty smart guy.

The talk is about the intersections of regional identity, economics, slavery, and creativity — and how it all relates to Gwar. And i f you're confused by that sentence, just imagine how I felt while typing it.

As Dr. Bishop explains, a surprising amount of careful, conscious commentary went into the construction of the Gwar mythology:


GIFs via TEDx.

Basically, Dr. Bishop (aka Blothar, formerly known as Beefcake the Mighty), presents an argument that a band like Gwar only exists because of Richmond, Virginia's troubled history.

While Gwar's brand of creative output certainly reflects Richmond's violent history, there's one major difference: Gwar is fictional and has never actually enslaved or killed any real people.

Being from Richmond, the members of Gwar couldn't avoid the death, destruction, and poverty that surrounded their hometown. So they found another way to channel that negative energy and turn it into something productive. And given that a recent study showed that metal fans grew up to be more well-adjusted than many of their peers, Gwar just might be on to something.

Watch the full TEDx Talk — it is a glorious, glorious testament to the late Oderus Urungus:

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less
Canva

Small actions lead to big movements.

Acts of kindness—we know they’re important not only for others, but for ourselves. They can contribute to a more positive community and help us feel more connected, happier even. But in our incessantly busy and hectic lives, performing good deeds can feel like an unattainable goal. Or perhaps we equate generosity with monetary contribution, which can feel like an impossible task depending on a person’s financial situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, the main reason people don’t offer more acts of kindness is the fear of being misunderstood. That is, at least, according to The Kindness Test—an online questionnaire about being nice to others that more than 60,000 people from 144 countries completed. It does make sense—having your good intentions be viewed as an awkward source of discomfort is not exactly fun for either party.

However, the results of The Kindness Test also indicated those fears were perhaps unfounded. The most common words people used were "happy," "grateful," "loved," "relieved" and "pleased" to describe their feelings after receiving kindness. Less than 1% of people said they felt embarrassed, according to the BBC.


Keep ReadingShow less

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less