The Kids Are Alright
July 8, 2015 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Contrary to the fears of our parents, teachers, and pastors, 80s metalheads did not grow up to be drug and booze addled Satan worshipers.
posted by COD (27 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Clearly Satan grants earthly happiness to his followers at the expense of their SOULS.
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:36 AM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The research comes with a caveat: The study featured "relatively high functioning individuals who volunteered to participate and report on their lives."

OF course I share the view that music doesn't cause life outcomes. And I don't believe there's anything about metal that's uniquely worse than any other type of music. At the same time, where I live is sort of a metal nexus, and I encounter quite a few aging metalheads who I'm not sure are enjoying great life outcomes.

Here's the study itself.

This made me ruminate on what "well adjusted" means. I'm sure there's some standard psych instrument of adjusted-ness, or something like that. But I just completed an adult development class, which was really interesting in that it dealt a lot with theories of adult development that find that we spend most of our lives in transition between one way of making sense of things and another - unless we don't develop. People can feel discomfort, challenge, inadequacy, relationship changes - unhappiness, essentially - as a result of going through the changes in development that require growing beyond an old conception of the self into a new one. That makes me wonder whether "well adjusted" is really a hallmark of whole adult living. It seems to imply an adaptation to conditions as they currently are, but not a growth mindset. Perhaps someone with some psychology training can comment on theories of "well-adjusted-ness" and what they are supposed to mean.
posted by Miko at 6:02 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, except for Bob. But we always knew Bob wasn't right.
posted by eriko at 6:07 AM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


So wait, the metalheads are people who answered a call for volunteers, not randomly selected from a population of metalheads (or from the general population)? Doesn't this pretty much invalidate the study's findings if the metalhead group was self-selecting?
posted by chrominance at 6:12 AM on July 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's strange that they would have singled out metalheads as having a propensity to loserdom that needed refutation. Being a metalhead in the 80s wasn't really a rebel / angry at the world thing at all. It was about dudes getting loud and physical and drunk and meeting scantily clad girls. Probably compares well to rugby players? Might have been more interesting to look at teenage punks, where there was a real ethos of rejection and dissent.
posted by MattD at 6:17 AM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wonder how Gram (you know, like "gram of dope") is doing.
posted by davebush at 6:20 AM on July 8, 2015


I wonder how Gram (you know, like "gram of dope") is doing.

He totally blew it.
posted by chavenet at 6:22 AM on July 8, 2015


80s metalheads did not grow up to be drug and booze addled Satan worshipers.

I don't know, it was rather touch-and-go for a few years there... And while you can take the metalhead out of the parking lot, you can't take the parking lot out of the metalhead.
posted by resurrexit at 6:30 AM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Heavy Metal Parking Lot should have become a Seven Up-style documentary series, where we check in on the metalheads of Landover, Maryland every seven years and see where their lives have taken them.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:32 AM on July 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


So "Just Say No" actually worked and "Hip to be Square" was spot-on cultural analysis.
posted by three blind mice at 6:37 AM on July 8, 2015


> "Hip to be Square" was spot-on cultural analysis

The rise of the geek. I blame the internet.
posted by Leon at 6:42 AM on July 8, 2015


The DVD of Heavy Metal Parking Lot include an extra where they catch up with Zebra Man as an adult who is somewhat embarrassed about being Zebra Man, which is really entertaining.

Most of my favorite people are current or ex-metalheads. They're living across a pretty wide spectrum of what I suppose this study would consider "high functioning", but they are uniformly excellent people, so they have that going for them.
posted by Stacey at 7:05 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's strange that they would have singled out metalheads as having a propensity to loserdom that needed refutation. Being a metalhead in the 80s wasn't really a rebel / angry at the world thing at all. It was about dudes getting loud and physical and drunk and meeting scantily clad girls. Probably compares well to rugby players? Might have been more interesting to look at teenage punks, where there was a real ethos of rejection and dissent.

I surmise that metalheadness varied by location, so the following is anecdata:

I grew up in a conservative, nouveau riche, racist and provincial suburb. (I mean, it also had a train station, a town center and lots of trees, so not all bad.) The metalheads were uniformly working class kids, many Italian*. There was a while where I would sit with some of them at lunch because they were the only people who would tolerate me (which I didn't appreciate enough at the time, or understand well enough). I would not have characterized them as particularly "angry at the world", but as a group they had some justified skepticism of the world. I'd say that metalheads were more rejected than rejecting, where I grew up.

I mean, I was also bullied by a different faction of metalheads later, but on the other hand I was bullied by just about everyone at one point or another, so it's difficult to blame them in particular. (Fat, queer, poor-by-local-standards, nerdy, raised-by-the-social-skills-equivalent-of-wolves - not really a recipe for friends.)

*As I've said here before, my town was so dependent on racialized hierarchy that it held on to old, old Chicago-area prejudices against people of Italian descent, who were held to be trashy, slutty, etc.
posted by Frowner at 7:08 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want to see a similar study of people who were really into Allan Holdsworth-syle jazz fusion. Also for nothing good to have come of it.
posted by Mocata at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


So wait, the metalheads are people who answered a call for volunteers, not randomly selected from a population of metalheads (or from the general population)? Doesn't this pretty much invalidate the study's findings if the metalhead group was self-selecting?

Eh, it doesn't invalidate it. Any study is only as strong as its methodology, and every decent study should both make their methods extremely clear, and discuss the limits thereof. This one does, too:

This study used self-report and retrospective data in an effort to ascertain promising directions for future study; the design is limited by all the usual caveats regarding interpretation commonly found in such studies. The participants were volunteers who had access to Facebook and Survey Monkey and wanted to tell their stories anonymously to researchers. Thus, they may be higher functioning than other metalheads who may have died early, declined to participate, or experienced problems in employment, relationships, and so on, as they grew up. Still, their levels of positive adjustment compared to both middle-aged and younger cohorts are striking, and run counter to most stereotypes.

In general, yes, this isn't the strongest possible research design, but we can still gain knowledge and draw conclusions. We just ought not make statements that the research design, findings, and limitations don't support.
posted by entropone at 7:38 AM on July 8, 2015


After dinner, we all gathered in the study to ruminate on times past. After too many brandies, inhibitions became lower and one of our party leaned in conspiratorially to whisper, "Hey, you guys want to do some... Mastodon?"
posted by 1adam12 at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Mastodon isn't metal.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:35 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I want to see a similar study of people who were really into Allan Holdsworth-syle jazz fusion. Also for nothing good to have come of it.

Since the arrival of such guitarists as Frederik Thordendal in the 90s, the overlap with metalheads has become measurable these days.

Mastodon isn't metal.

Hair's too short?
posted by vanar sena at 8:38 AM on July 8, 2015


The study seems pretty flawed but...

This completely resonates for me: Kids who are more likely to be from troubled households, who band together in a close knit community, united by a feeling of otherness from mainstream society, just generally turn out to be really together and interesting adults. This is true for lots of other subcultures too (Punk) and it seems to provide some core background for being a smart, well-balanced adult:

- Life wasn't easy - you have to learn resourcefulness and gratitude at an early age
- Community - lots of early practice in interacting as part of a small, intimate group
- Otherness - an awareness of the short-fallings of mainstream society is inculcated - a type of critical thinking that you are likely to carry through the rest of your life.
posted by latkes at 9:12 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was wondering the other day why I, a happy and well-adjusted middle-aged father, still regularly listens to the rock and roll. Then I learned about this research article out of the University of Queensland. The kids are all right because they're actually pretty chill.
posted by vverse23 at 9:45 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up to be a raver which I think we can all agree is far worse than simple wholesome satan worship.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:48 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm about to commit the "no true metalheads" fallacy...
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The headline really should read:

Contrary to the fears of our parents, teachers, and pastors, we were able to find some 80s metalheads who did not grow up to be drug and booze addled Satan worshipers.

posted by straight at 10:03 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up to be a raver which I think we can all agree is far worse than simple wholesome satan worship.

All of the debauchery without any of the committed belief. Whether that's better or worse is really in the eye of the beholder.

I mean, uh, in the Eye of the Beholder.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2015


Heh, photo of kid in Slipknot shirt for an article about 1980s metal fans. Wikimedia Commons search failed these guys!
posted by ignignokt at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


SEE, GRANDMA?

You can stop freaking out now. I'm quite fine.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:11 PM on July 8, 2015


Yeah of course the metalheads (and goths, don't forget the goths!) of the generation I grew up in turned out perfectly okay, that was obvious from the beginning.

Today's dubsteppers though...boy howdy, we better get them gold bullion and cans of beans packed in to our bunkers because these kids are going to grow up to destroy everything forever. The streets will be awash in on-demand abortions and homosex and people filming cops who are just doing their jobs.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:04 PM on July 8, 2015


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