Metal Heads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation

By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | Go to book overview

PROFILE
Jack

Jack had a striking appearance. His hair was straight and long, past his shoulders, and blond, sun-soaked from long summer hours of working construction outdoors. His skin was tanned baseball-glove brown, and he had a brownish beard of perhaps two weeks' growth. He was wearing a blue tie-dyed halter t-shirt and old blue jeans, with huge holes in the knees, nearly worn through on the left thigh.

The most striking things about him, however, were his jewelry and tattoos. He wore an earring in each ear -- in his right ear a person hanging from a noose, in his left, a crucifix. Another crucifix dangled as a necklace, and on his left hand he sported a tattoo of yet another.

The crosses decorating his body did not signify devoutness on his part. "It's just something I like," he said. He also had a tattoo of a black rose on his left arm. This had a more explainable (if somewhat bizarre) significance to him. "I love roses," he said. "I love them when they die. I got a big old goldfish jar with black rose petals that I've kept over the years. When I was in treatment [for drug abuse], my girlfriend used to send me black roses every week. And they [the hospital personnel] would say that's real morbid and everything. When I die, I want twenty-one dozen black roses on my coffin."

He had had a tough and chaotic life so far, this eighteen-yearold who was already thinking about how he wanted his coffin to be decorated. His past included a tumultuous relationship with his father, dropping out of high school at age sixteen, a stay in a psychiatric hospital for drug abuse, and time in jail for auto theft and breaking and entering. He was highly reckless in the present, too; his Summary Profile (see below) shows his history of highspeed and drunk driving, high-risk sexual behavior, and drug use over the past year. His alienation was deep -- he was estranged from his father, and he said he admired no one, had no interest in politics or religion, and had no idea what to do with his life. There may have been a yearning for meaning in his attraction to crosses and black roses -- and to heavy metal music. Unlike most things in

-1-

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Metal Heads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Photographs vii
  • Preface ix
  • Profile - Jack 1
  • 1 - A Heavy Metal Concert: The Sensory Equivalent of War 7
  • Profile - Nick 19
  • 2 - Heavy Metal Music and the Socialization of Adolescents 23
  • Profile - Mark 35
  • 3 - What is This Thing Called Heavy Metal? 41
  • Profile - Brian 59
  • 4 - The Allure of Heavy Metal 63
  • Profile - Spencer 73
  • 5 - The Effects of Heavy Metal 77
  • Profile - Lew 91
  • 6 - Sources of Alienation I: Family and Community 97
  • Profile - Reggie 111
  • 7 - Sources of Alienation II: School and Religion 117
  • Profile - Jean 135
  • 8 - The Girls of Metal 139
  • Profile - Barry 151
  • 9 - Heavy Metal Music, Individualism, and Adolescent Alienation 155
  • Appendix: Interview Questions 169
  • Notes 171
  • References 183
  • About the Book and Author 189
  • Index 191
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