Photo by Flickr user Mavis.
“Because teenage years are one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, having the ability to escape with the aid of music is extremely important to myself as well as many other teens,” a young writer named Alexa wrote recently at the Radical Parenting blog. “There are various genres to fit any taste and mood you are feeling and songs that can relate to nearly anything you are going through. Lyrics can often resonate with a person’s situation and even help them find their identity.”
For decades, a segment of the adult, “responsible” world has railed against heavy-metal music. This genre is one of the most suspect: some people think it’s capable of making teens commit violence against themselves or others, or of leading teens into evil. By contrast, author Jeffrey Jensen Arnett found that metal soothes some teens’ souls, particularly those with a high need for intensity. Unlike many adults, Arnett actually asked teens why they like the music so much, and then he listened to their answers.
And yet, teen metal fans still feel like their favorite music is misunderstood, so the war isn’t over yet. Alisa Boswell, a young New Mexico woman, recently wrote a piece for the Portales News-Tribune asking people to give heavy metal a chance:
There is a very distinct passion and creativity to heavy metal music that I am admiring more each time I hear it. And let’s face it, whether you like it or not, you can’t beat the instrumentals in heavy metal. You don’t get more variety than that.
If you have an appreciation for music but don’t care too much for metal, I highly recommend giving it a chance. If you appreciate music, you will appreciate heavy metal instrumentals and lyrics (if maybe not the screaming).
Another teen girl recently wrote to teen advice columnist Dr. Robert Wallace to convince him metal isn’t so bad:
Their lyrics are very deep; it’s a definite form of poetry. Such issues as conformity and human biases are explored, and the songs are sung with passion, not merely blind anger. In my friend’s valedictory speech, he actually quoted from a heavy metal song. (His speech was about thinking for yourself rather than letting others do it for you.) It was an excellent speech and the quote fit perfectly; no one would have been able to guess that his “modern poet” was, in fact, Metallica.
It’s easy to believe that teens are young and so malleable that the wrong message can lead them astray. The teens I’ve talked to are anything but; they know what they need psychologically, and they know what they can and can’t handle. And exploring those boundaries is important work. Sure, a parental guiding hand now and then doesn’t hurt. But kids know what they’re doing.
A question for readers today: Did your parents question the content of your favorite teen music? What did they say? How did you respond to that? Do you think, in hindsight, that you were right — or were they right?