Sources of Alienation I: Family and Community
The family's importance in our society [has] been steadily declining over a period of more than 100 years. [The result, in the present, is that children learn] a certain protective shallowness, a fear of binding commitments, a willingness to pull up roots whenever the need arises, a dislike of depending on anyone, an incapacity for loyalty or gratitude.
-- Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World
In our society, the forces that produce youthful alienation are growing in strength and scope. Families, schools, and other institutions that play important roles in human development are rapidly being eroded.
-- Urie Bronfenbrenner, professor emeritus of human development, Cornell University
As we have seen, the dominant theme in heavy metal songs is alienation, alienation with respect to personal relationships as well as social institutions. Violence is pervasive in the songs, and the violence expresses a deep alienation, a sense of being at war with the world. Songs about lovers -- or former lovers -- bemoan their faithlessness and duplicity. Songs about politics and religion are invariably cynical: All politicians are liars and schemers, all religious figures are hypocrites. The singer is presented as a lone figure of integrity trying to hold out against a massive tide of corruption and ugliness. Little hope is offered for turning that tide, for ridding the world of its multiple ills and creating a society free of the ugliness of the present one. The best that can be hoped for, it seems, is to go down nobly, to be the rare voice crying in the wilderness, even with the certainty that the world at large will never listen.
Given the pervasiveness of the theme of alienation in heavy metal music, it will come as no surprise that many of the adolescents who like heavy metal are unhappy with their family relationships, express negative attitudes toward school, and tend to be cynical about politics and re