Study: Mosh Pits Mimic 40,000 Year-Old Behavior of Rainforest Tribes in Papua New Guinea


A new study conducted by University College London research Lindsay Bishop has concluded that mosh pit behavior closely resembles rituals that’ve been carried out by indigenous rainforest tribes in Papua New Guinea for more than 40,000 years.

Bishop spent three years doing her research for the study — THREE YEARS! — touring with metal bands throughout the word (including Fear Factory, 3Teeth, Mortiis, Pig and Combichrist) and interviewing hundreds of fans. Her conclusion: the unspoken rules followed in mosh pits and the ways those rules are passed down from elder generations to younger ones are similar to the ways ancient Papuan tribes communicate information and customs. From Daily Mail:

“Ms Bishop found that older generations of metal fans pass on mosh pit etiquette and behaviour to newcomers and younger generations.

“She said this ensures an environment of ‘controlled chaos’, including an implicit understanding that ‘moshing’ is not a fight but a way to release tension.

“‘Unspoken rules’ outline that the ‘pit’ is voluntary with no pressure to join, and that those who fall over should be picked up immediately.”

Bishop also drew parallels between outside perceptions of both cultures as brutish, and likened metal fans’ pastime of buying band merch to the indigenous Papuan tribes passing down “shared objects and sculptures” from generation to generation:

“Despite the perception of the heavy metal community ‘as a brutish rite of passage for teenage boys’, Ms Bishop said it was a ‘complex, inclusive and global community that now encompasses several generations’.

“The shared camaraderie, etiquette, camaraderie and catharsis, mirrored traditions of behaviour similar to Papuan tribal communities, she said.

“Conventions of the Malangan culture, in which shared objects and sculptures are used to remember past events, parallel the collection of dated tour T-shirts, or band paraphernalia like drum sticks or plectrums thrown from the stage.”

As a reminder, someone spent three years getting paid to conduct this study. I thought I had quite the racket set up here at MetalSucks, but Lindsay Bishop wins at life!

Thanks: Ross H. 

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