Metal Legacies

New Study Shows ’80s Metalheads and Groupies are Well-Adjusted



If you’ve never seen The Decline of Western Civilization Pt. 2: The Metal Years, go find it online and watch it right now. Besides the famed sequence of genius filmmaker Chris Holmes chugging vodka in the pool next to his mother, there’s just a general understanding throughout the film that these go-nowhere down-and-out metal kids are sending this world to Hell in a handbasket. It’s a laugh riot.

It’s also, apparently, bullshit! A new study published in the journal Self and Identity reveals that the metalheads and heavy metal groupies of the 1980s have actually grown into well-adjusted people–or at least as well-adjusted as any other group of people.

One quote that will make headbangers smile:

“Today, these middle-aged metalheads are middle class, gainfully employed, relatively well educated, and look back fondly on the wild times they lived in the 1980s. In fact, the metal groups were less likely than both comparisons to have regrets about things they did in their youth. Metalheads in general were not significantly more likely to attempt suicide or have sex at earlier ages than other youth, nor were they more likely to miss work due to physical or mental health problems as adults…”

Interesting! Not only are metalheads employed and educated, they’re also totally okay with their youths full of excess and madness. Not exactly River’s Edge, is it?

One thing Metal Insider, where we learned about the study, points out is that the people surveyed here were “relatively high-functioning individuals,” so a lot of the drug- and booze-casualties of metal’s early days maybe didn’t take part in this conversation. That said, if recorded evidence is to be believed, a LOT of metalheads were drinking and doing drugs in the ’80s, and it’s not as though an entire generation ended up complete fuck-ups.

The study can be very dry and technical, but you can read it in full here.

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