Researchers examined 80s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and fans at middle age
When you think of heavy metal, the things that typically spring to mind are loud music, partying, swearing, and drug/alcohol use.
Back in the 1980s, this genre was extremely popular, so it’s no surprise that “The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC),” launched a campaign against any music that promoted these “negative” things.
The PMRC organization which was co-founded by Tipper Gore and the wives of several other Washington power brokers.
Researchers in the 1980s suggested that young “metalheads” were at risk for poor developmental outcomes.
Those interested in heavy metal, therefore, were considered outsiders and metalheads were often seen by many as unhealthy losers who were throwing their lives away.
War on Heavy Metal
PMRC’s aim was to put warning labels on all music linked to heavy metal and its associated activities.
While there were a few pop artists that were targeted, the majority of the music was heavy metal bands from the 80s, in particular: Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, Metallica, W.A.S.P, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, and Venom.
However, not all the artists agreed with them.
Twisted Sister’s, Dee Snider, appeared before Congress in 1985 and accused the PMRC of misinterpreting his band’s lyrics and waging a false war against metal music.
Now, over three decades later, it seems as if Snider was right.
Thirty Years On
So, over thirty years later, what happened to these metalhead kids?
Presumably, they’re either dead, addicted to substances, or in prison, right? Wrong!
In 2014, psychology researchers at Humboldt State, Ohio State, UC Riverside, and UT Austin undertook a study that examined 1980s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and even the fans at middle age.
In total, 377 participants were studied and the results show that although metal enthusiasts did, in fact, live riskier lives as kids, they were actually far happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college-age youth comparison groups.
The only conclusion that the researchers were able to draw from this is that participation in fringe style cultures may enhance identity development in troubled youth.
Not to mention that heavy metal lyrics don’t easily turn kids into damaged goods, as so many people, such as the PMRC, suggested.