Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Emo culture 411

I stumbled upon an article (a very famous article about a very famous suicide amongst the fans, myself included, of a certain band which I will not name at this time) while reading things online, and, although I knew a good deal about the music genre and subculture of emo already, it sparked a curiosity on my part as to where it started and what it was officially defined as. I did some research and decided to share for the sake of both defying and defending the idea of "emo"

The article I read on the Daily Mail website (a newspaper in London) was written in 2008 criticizing emo culture and blaming a specific emo band for the suicide of an "emo" 13 year old girl. The article created a worldwide upset among the fans of the band as well as with emos who were offended and strongly disagreed with what was said about emo culture. Protests and demonstrations were organized and held in defense of the band and emo subculture.

After reading the article, different teens' responses to the article and doing some research on the subculture that is emo, I have come to the conclusion that the meaning of the term "emo" has merged and evolved a great deal since taking on its original meaning, and is now a very vague and unclear term.

The emo culture, "cult" or trend criticized in the Daily Mail article is one that seems to be gaining popularity among British school children, primarily pre-teen and early-teen girls.
(I like to think of it as basically a poser trying to become the emo stereotype, so in case you couldn't guess, I don't like this kind of emo. It's not true emo, but since it is so popular, I guess it has become true in its own sense)
It is spoken of as a style and music genre by those who claim to be emo, (fashion characterized by black clothing, long fringes/bangs hiding one or both eyes, skulls and thick eye makeup, the music being guitar based and involving emotional lyrics) but it is known as a "dangerous teen trend" among concerned news papers, teachers and parents.

Emo is a style and a music genre, but is often wrongly associated with cutting and self harm as well. Originally it involved nothing of the sort, but because "emos" are known to be emotional and depression prone, and because of what it has twisted to mean over time, part of what people, particularly these British girls, think of as "emo" is seeing a romantic aspect, or something of glamour and trend to inflicting self harm on one's self. The type of emo that the girl in the article called herself a part of before her death was one that glorified the idea of suicide, and that regarded cutting and self harm more of a fashion statement than an escape from depression or any other original usage of the action. Very disturbing.

Hannah Bond
 right-weeks before her death

A lot of people seem to become what is known as an "emo" simply to make a statement and have individuality. The things associated with this in Britain’s case though, including initiations and "stylish" scars, are rather dangerous. Music and peer-pressure can have a strong effect on a person, especially those of a vulnerable personality, low self esteem, and such young age. I n fact it has influenced many teenagers and continues to appeal to more and more as time goes on. In 06/07 there were 15,955 kids hospitalized because of cases of self harm in Britain alone. What "emo" has become there, and in various other places, is wrong, stupid, dangerous, and sadly what comes to most people's minds when hearing the term. 

"Emo" was originally short for emocore, or emotional-hardcore witch described hardcore punk rock bands who distinguished themselves from their peers by adding an emotional element to their music. It was characterized by particularly dramatic vocals. It was manly and hard, fast and thrashy and sung in a way that wasn't winey or feminine like it sometimes is today. It was initially defined just as a genre of music, but continued to devolve through the 90's, has taken on some features of "goth" and "punk" and become a whole different type of music than it was originally. It has also created a style of dress, a behavior, and specific perspectives on life also known as "emo." The meaning keeps changing and will just get harder and harder to define as time goes on. Many people blame the style of music for creating emo culture and the tragedies that are sometimes linked to it, but what they don't understand is that it is the kids who create the culture and harm, not the bands and their music.

I think true "emo" is in personality. I think only a select few people can be true to the emo definition because it is something that people like me would create for themselves - a style that reflects personality and life view, something creative and poetic that only they really understand and appreciate. It should vary from person to person. In my opinion it's not something that any old person can just choose to be. My definition doesn’t really matter though, because the definition most commonly referred to is that which I have talked about in the above paragraphs. I like to think about it, though in a way that focuses on the real person underneath, not on some person who wants to be a certain way and forces themselves to love black and be someone they never were.

 When the term "emo" is referring to a person's personality and attitude a number of the following terms are often considered: shy, quiet, mysterious, introvert, angst ridden and sensitive.
(And I got this next part from another site)

"Artistic talent is known to be associated with the emo culture along with a degree of sophistication and depth. Emos can feel they are misunderstood by society. They like to write poetry (of the romantic and morbid kind) and gather on online communities such as MySpace, etc. The ones who are emo not because they feel it, but because they like to be trendy are named 'posers'. Apparently a big percent of the current emo subculture is formed by posers."

"Scene" for example is merely a style derived from emo and is suposed to be more "preppy." - However, it's basicly the exact same thing as being a poser.

Personally I see myself in a lot of that.
Quiet, introvert... maybe I don't feel a lot of anxiety, or anguish, but I can be pretty emotional. I love drawing and writing, specifically poetry (and it actually often is of the romantic and morbid kind) to pour out my feelings or express my thoughts. I'm artistic, and I feel generally misunderstood by everyone, (except I do feel like other artists or even the emo non posers would understand me quite well, because I feel that I understand them.) So, Mom, the feeling of belonging I have concerning "emo" is totally just because that is me, not because of the cutting or the skulls - both of which make me sick - I'm not a poser walking around saying or trying to be things to be cool. I'm just me, and it's like a world where I feel I sort of belong, at least in the mind if not physically. So don't worry about me.

....I guess that kind of wraps things up. So, there you go, that is emo. It’s sadly becoming a very mainstream thing, especially as far as music is concerned. It's not really cool and deep anymore. As one person put it
"those kids who hide their face behind a long fringe, cut themselves for fashion and say they’re “emo” just because they don’t have the guts to just be themselves without any label"
 Some people are just insecure like that, and it's a shame that they resort to such drastic measures. Some are just trying to look punky and cool, or even just anti-mainstream, but it's getting kind of mainstream so that would be a failed attempt...
I don't really like how widely accepted "emo" seems to be because it'll lead the generations to come into a dark future (if this generation doesn't all kill itself first) Likewise... in the very true words of August Burns Red "Why are we lead by a mislead generation? Left to die and" (I don't rally know what it says next because it's screamo and I can't understand, but it's a good point all the same) It only emphasizes our great need for guidance and direction from our holy and perfect heavenly Father. Keep strong everyone! This world needs, and will increasingly need, people in their right minds who know the truth well. We should not be of this world, but have our minds and hearts set on Jesus.

August Burns Red Album Art

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