Metal Heads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation

By Jeffrey Jensen Arnett | Go to book overview

PROFILE
Lew

Lew was the only avowed satanist in the study. Virtually all of the boys in the study laughed off the suggestion that heavy metal promoted satanism. They recognized some satanist elements in some of the lyrics of some bands, but they saw this as a ploy on the part of these bands to draw attention to themselves by shocking and outraging people. For Lew, however, his preference for heavy metal music was one extension of his belief in satanism, in particular his belief in the occult and the power of black magic.

It was immediately evident, upon looking at him, that he was an unusual boy. His long reddish-blond hair extended three inches past his shoulders, very straight, and most of the time hung in front of his face like a reed curtain. That curtain rarely parted; in the course of an interview of over an hour, he did not allow eye contact more than once or twice, and briefly. His rare laugh was muted and languid, as if it started from somewhere deep inside of him and had nearly expired by the time it reached his mouth.

His features were very fair. Although he was sixteen years old, he had an oddly prepubescent face, with only isolated facial hairs; apparently he had never shaved. He wore the black t-shirt popular among metalheads, with a heavy metal logo on it, this one proclaiming the band King Diamond and portraying a demonic-looking woman. His denim jacket had the same logo and the same woman on it. He had on black pants and pointed, ankle-high, black leather shoes.

He seemed to live an isolated life, dwelling in a deep well of alienation. The black magic rituals he conducted were always solitary. He went alone to concerts, which generally are attended by groups of friends. "I just usually go by myself and then I meet somebody there," he said. "I see people I recognize from previous concerts, and they recognize me. I'm always the guy with the King Diamond t-shirt on."

Concerts provided these tenuous and transient social contacts for him, and they also gave him a chance to enjoy slamdancing

-91-

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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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