Metal Heads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation

By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | Go to book overview
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PROFILE
Mark

Mark was nearly twenty-one years old, but he did not seem that old, either in appearance or in how he lived. He was of normal adult size, maybe even a little heavier than average, but his face was that of a much younger boy -- smooth and hairless, dotted with acne, braces on his teeth. His light brown hair was nicely styled and shoulder-length, and he wore wire-rimmed glasses.

There was also a distinct immaturity in his social life, more characteristic of an early adolescent thirteen- or fourteen-year-old than of a person his age. He said he had never had a girlfriend. "Nope. And I've never been out on a date. I do things with girls I consider friends. But I'm still a virgin and I haven't really gone on an official date." Would you like to? I asked. "Oh yeah," he said. "I'm just bashful -- I guess that would be the word for it. I don't know how to approach somebody. I don't know how to talk to them. I've just been like that all my life. I see someone I'd like to talk to, and just before I get there I go -- [visibly tenses his body] -- and I walk away. But once I've been around somebody for some time, I start to feel more comfortable with that person, and then I start opening up and talking to them."

Not only in his relations to girls but in relation to other boys, his interests seemed characteristic of a younger person. He said he enjoyed playing "role-playing games" such as Dungeons and Dragons. "One of the games I'm really into now is Apocalypse, which is role-playing of the dark future," he said. "It's one of those odd ones where everyone runs around with high-powered automatic weapons and blows each other away. It's fun."

He saw heavy metal music as helping him to release excess energy. "I listen to heavy metal when I have a lot of pent-up energy to release," he said. "Usually I listen to it just before I go to bed. It helps me fall asleep. And I'll read to it. It gets me up in the morning, too. I don't get really physically active when I listen to it. I just sit there, and the music helps release some of the energy." Listening to heavy metal helped him purge this nervous energy. Slamdancing at concerts helped release a more aggressive form of

-35-

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