Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 54–62 | Cite as

From Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson

The Significance of Adolescent Antiheroes
  • Jeff Q. Bostic
  • Steve Schlozman
  • Caroly Pataki
  • Carel Ristuccia
  • Eugene V. Beresin
  • Andrés Martin
Media Column

Abstract

Every generation has icons attractive to adolescents and equally repugnant to adults. This article examines antihero characteristics, their appeal to adolescents, and how adults can respond to adolescents enamored of antiheroes. The stage personas of antiheroes champion rejection of the mainstream, assail adult constraints and expectations, explore frightening topics, and ultimately fulfill the adolescent fantasy of surviving alienation and emerging victorious over parents and peers. But antihero idolization also tests the adult’s defenses. Adults, fearing loss of control and rejection by the adolescent, sometimes resort to primitive defenses mismatched to the developmental needs of the adolescent. Adults, as much as the adolescents, benefit from examining their individual reactions to the antihero and how their current relationship can accommodate this intrusion. The antihero phenomenon presents adults with an opportunity to model ways to think through that which is uncomfortable and to navigate together the adolescent’s developmentally normative separation efforts.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Taraborrelli JR: Sinatra: Behind the Legend. Secaucus, NJ, Carol Publishing, 1997Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Burge M, Lester D: Predicting suicidal ideation in high school students. Psychological Reports 2001; 89: 283–284PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Litman RE, Farberow NL: Pop-rock music as precipitating cause in youth suicide. Journal of Forensic Sciences 1994; 39: 494–499PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Scheel KR, Westefeld JS: Heavy metal music and adolescent suicidality: an empirical investigation. Adolescence 1999; 34: 253–273PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stack S, Gundlach J, Reeves JL: The heavy metal subculture and suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav 1994; 24: 15–23PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Heide KM: Associate editor’s editorial: killing words. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 1997; 41: 3–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Morgan J: Alcohol and razor blades, poison and needles: the glorious wretched excess of Alice Cooper, All-American. Liner notes from the Alice Cooper Boxset: The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. Rhino Records, 1999Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bruce M: No More Mr Nice Guy, revised ed. London, SAF, 2000Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baddeley G: Dissecting Marilyn Manson. London, Plexus, 2000Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Erikson EH: Childhood and Society. New York, WW Norton, 1950Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Greenberg P: Mr. America. Newsweek, May 28, 1973Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Manson M: The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. New York, Regan/HarperCollins, 1998Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Martin A: On teenagers and tattoos. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1997; 36: 860–861PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Flash! Manson’s $4,000 gyration. Newsday (New York), June 20, 2002, A12Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Arnett J: Adolescents and heavy metal music: from the mouths of metalheads. Youth and Society 1991; 23: 76–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wanamaker CE, Reznikoff M: Effects of aggressive and nonaggressive rock songs on projective and structured tests. J Psychol 1989; 123: 561–570PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Roe K: Adolescents’ use of the socially disvalued media: to-wards a theory of media delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 1995; 24: 617–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Greenfield PM, Bruzzone L, Koyamatsu K, et al: What is rock music doing to the minds of our youth? A first experimental look at the effects of rock music lyrics and music videos. Journal of Early Adolescence 1987; 7: 315–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Villani S: Impact of media on children and adolescents: a 10-year review of the research. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2001; 40: 392–401PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Willis E, Strasburger VC: Media violence. Pediatr Clin North Am 1998; 45: 319–331PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Roberts KR, Dimsdale J, East P, et al: Adolescent emotional response to music and its relationship to risk-taking behaviors. J Adolesc Health 1998; 23(Jul): 49–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gowensmith WN, Bloom LJ: The effects of heavy metal music on arousal and anger. Journal of Music Therapy 1997; 34: 33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Milano B: Everything old is new again in shock rock. Boston Sunday Herald, May 9, 1999Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Q. Bostic
    • 1
  • Steve Schlozman
    • 1
  • Caroly Pataki
    • 3
  • Carel Ristuccia
    • 2
  • Eugene V. Beresin
    • 1
  • Andrés Martin
    • 4
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Tufts UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.UCLA Neuropsychiatric InstituteLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Yale Child Study CenterNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations