Emo makes you hurt yourself?

emo_bear.JPGYesterday The Trib printed this lovely article “exploring” emo culture. Besides being completely out-of-touch it also does a terrific job of distorting that which is actually emo.

I could go into a history lesson here, but I won’t.

Please read the article for what it is and recognize that it is first and foremost an alarmist piece of clap-trap. This is not primarily a piece about cutters or teenage depression or pill popping or MySpace or anything like that. That is just some of the tangential stuff the author has thrown in to support her theory that emo is scary and will cause kids harm. Whatever.

Quick, hide the kids…it’s emo!

(Emo Bear pic via Threadless)

15 Comments so far

  1. Dave! (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    “Emo is derived originally from a style of emotionally charged punk rock with early roots in The Cure and more recently made popular through such bands as Dashboard Confessional, My Chemical Romance and Wilmette’s own Fall Out Boy.”

    What????! What???!?! I mean, what!??!?!

  2. nikkos (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    So Tankboy and I were discussing this on his personal blog…and I sitll think he gives the “cutting” short shrift. I’d like to see your snarky dismissal if YOUR kid came home and self-mutilated.

    Tankboy, you and now Dave! seem to question the Trib’s definition of emo. For the sake of those that are not emo fans, or music critics, what is it? I guess my definition wouldn’t have been too far off from the Trib’s, because I don’t listen to emo.

  3. tankboy (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Nikkos, you’re obsessed with this cutting thing, which only takes up a handful of sentences in this whole article. Try to see the forest and stop staring at the tree. I’m making a larger point about a misguided and misinformed opinion piece being passed off as journalism.

    For a not-too shabby “emo” tutorial, wiki does a good job:


  4. nikkos (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

    Sheesh, for a music critic you are awfully reluctant to talk about music.

    I’m not fixated on cutting. I find it to be a distrubing trend, as I think any thinking person would. You didn’t really respond substantively to my previous question on your blog about cutting so I raised it here.

    Besides, the title of this post is “Emo makes you hurt yourself?” so it seemed to me that a discussion of emo leading teens to hurt themselves might be appropriate.

  5. Dave! (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

    Yeah, the wikipedia entry (emo (music)doesn’t do a bad job…

    I’m hardly emo… I’m just an aging punk rocker. :) But I listened to a lot of Dag Nasty and Minor Threat a long time ago… and I never cut myself.

    The problem with alarmist articles like the one in the Tribune is that it misses the point: emo (or goth, or punk, or country, or gospel) doesn’t make kids cut themselves. Kids with problems cut themselves–and they don’t always dress in black and wear mascara or whatever. There are tons of good, and relatively well adjusted kids who listen to various types of music–and all articles like this do is make parents afraid and make the kids feel picked on.

    A well-rounded kid who happens to like emo music and starts wearing the fashion isn’t going to suddenly start mutilating his body; the kids who are doing that had something wrong before they found that scene, believe me. And you could dress them in an Izod shirt and khakis and it’s not going to fix their issues.

    How about *talking* to your kids and knowing what is going on in their lives? All articles like that one in the Tribune do is give parents a scape goat: “oh, Billy wouldn’t be cutting up his arms if it weren’t for that music…” B.S. Billy needs help… start blaming the music, and I guarantee, he’s not getting the help he needs.

  6. tankboy (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

    Thanks Dave!, for cutting to the core in a way I apparently was failing to do so.

    Nikkos, I didn’t discuss the musical attributes of emo with you because you showed no interest in anyting other than “cutting.” To me — and this is the same response I gave you elsewhere though you may have missed it — the most disturbing part of the article, was the alarmist bent of this opinion-piece masquerading as journalism.

    The title was intended as a (well-deserved) jab at the sloppy article discussed within.

  7. nikkos (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

    Whatever. You just have no patience for disagreement and/or criticism.

  8. nikkos (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    OK fine, we’re gonna disagree on this one…although I’m not even sure we’re disagreeing. I never said the Trib article was good or even correct- I agree that music does not cause this kind of behavior, although certain genres of music may be symptomatic of such behavior.

    My only point was that the phenomenon of cutting is a disturbing trend- one which seems to be growing- and I base that not on the Trib article but on conversations I’ve had with kids in high school.

    In my day, a cutter would have been someone that was clearly seeking help and/or attention. Today, it seems to elicit a shrug.

    I think that’s sad, and if anything, I would have thought a devotee of emo might have understood that.

  9. Dave! (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

    And it was a *really* sloppy article. It would have only taken the author a few minutes on Google to get a more accurate history of the music. If the article is so sloppy on facts about the music, not to mention alarmist in tone, how can you take the more serious aspects, well, seriously?

  10. tankboy (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

    Precisely. It appeared as if she slapped “cutting” in there as yet another negative aspect of the music. if anything it devalued the seriousness of that particular trend.

    However, since everything she attributes to emo is serious (suicide? trading prescription drugs?) i didn’t see the need to give one topic or another any serious discussion within the parameters of this particular critique.

  11. fagballs (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 5:45 pm

    didn’t ’emo phillips’ have ANYTHING to do with it?

  12. Mr. Smith (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

    Her definition of emo isn’t wrong so much as it is incomplete. Yes, it’s a kind of emotionally charged punk rock and yes the bands she mentions wouldn’t be around now if it hadn’t been for the Cure (although the FOB reference there is suspect at best). But there’s a whole lot else missing between her point A and point B.

    And the idea that there’s a cause and effect relationship between that music and the actions of these youth is ludicrous. Did we learn nothing from Judas Priest?

    Though I will admit that listening to Bright Eyes makes me want to shoot myself, but I don’t think that’s what she means.

  13. CP (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

    I…I can’t even figure out where to start. I’ll just say this: People who don’t know what they’re talking about, shouldn’t write articles for the Trib. This is such a great example of irresponsible and inflammatory journalism meant to cause panic and create misunderstanding and tension between parents and kids. There has not been a genuine movement in American music or young political culture since the 1960’s. A sub-genre of punk dubbed “emo” that was started in the early 80’s and ended in the early 90’s has never had anything to do with “cutting.” (or whining for that matter) What? The? Fuck?

  14. nikkos (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2006 @ 2:04 pm

    Yeah, they could have at least mentioned that emo sucks.

  15. Unknown (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 3:11 am

    do u cut ur self coz i do. and i am not emo does dis meen anyfing

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