I wanted to mention the misconceptions of Emo in an article I wrote, namely because there is so much emphasis on Emo in Art here on DA. Art based around Fashion, Music, and Subcultures. It is a heavily used term everywhere we go, and I think it's only fair that we all know what it really means, and what it doesn't.
Like a lot of people, I first heard the term "Emo" being used a few years ago, back when this term was picking up steam and being tossed about in mainstream culture. At first, I was curious because I actually had no idea what it meant, and so I asked around. Time and time again I was told that Emo was about boys wearing their sisters pants, black hair hanging in the eyes, and hacking at the wrists. "What sort of music do they listen to?", I asked. All replies started with "Emo" bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and The Used.
Some of this information was a little bit shocking, but when I saw the look with my own eyes, and saw headlines comparing Emo to Goth, I got mighty confused.
You see, many people tend to associate my look and taste in music with the Gothic Subculture. And if you ask people what they think is Goth, you will get the same answers from everyone. Goths warship Satan, practice witchcraft, want to die, are depressed, and enjoy heavy metal and techno.
Wait a minute... What? Come again?
I quickly realized that I needed to change my sources. The fact is, what you hear from the media is a complete obliteration of the truth, like a game of "telephone" gone wrong. If the media is telling people that Goths are the ones who shoot up high schools and that they sacrifice goats in their spare time, what do you think people will start believing and telling other people? I started to imagine how wrong they must be about Emo. And the kids calling themselves Emo; where exactly do you think they heard of it? That's right, the good old media - fueled by rumors, gossip, and heresy. Not facts.
I started to do my research on the topic, and I also realized how difficult it was to find the truth in a pile of bias un-researched blogs, articles, and theories, written by ill-informed know-it-alls. As I began to sort the misconceptions from reality, I was left with quite a few articles written by people who had knowledge of music history and stereotypes.
In the 1980's, Punk was still in it's glory, and their lyrics were largely political and anti-authority. Some lyrics were largely controversial, and violence in the punk scene would escalate from clashes of opinions and beliefs. In reaction to some of these instances, a few bands began to speak out in their lyrics. Rather than sparking topics like political debate, these lyrics began to take a deeply personal and passionate meaning. They sang about the bitterness of life and romance, as if it were some bittersweet poetry.
This mix of raw passionate lyrics and screaming guitars didn't really do it for some, but it appealed to a new subculture. Many punks left these shows disappointed, dismissing the bands as wussies and cry babies. But at the same time, many decided to stay, basking in this new lyrical content and the passion and emotion behind it.
The origin of the term, "Emo" is largely unknown, but it was a term that was used extensively after 1985. People described it than as Emocore (or Emotional Hardcore) for its close relativity to their founding father; Hardcore music.
Looking over the list of bands that were considered to be part of the Emo genre in the 1980's, I see that the most prominent band seemed to be "Rites of Spring", which is said to be the one of the first bands of its kind. As I took a listen, I could instantly see exactly why it was called Emocore. It was Hardcore styled music with Emotional lyrics; simple as that. With the riffs and words still fresh in my skull, I decided to compare it with the bands that most people associate with Emo today.
There was no comparison. They sounded totally different.
The only similarity was the plain and simple fact that both lyrics were obviously fueled by inner thoughts and emotions. But than again, so is a lot of other music! The original Emo sounded raw, powerful, and quite unique in their use of poetic thought. The comparison, todays bands associated with Emo, sounded to me like the Backstreet Boys gone dark and sad. It was very pop-driven, and even the lyrics were boring and cliche. They were sang with whiny voices that all seemed to sound the same, and I didn't understand how they could possibly be the same genre.
By 1986, many bands that started the Emo genre had broken up, and so the scene had been short lived. But little did these bands know that their music would be heard elsewhere, and that a reinvention of Emo would unfold. In the 1990's, these original bands records were inspiring new bands, and this brought Emo ever closer to being seen by mainstream popularity.
The fact that Emo peaked its head into mainstream music meant several things. Not only does it mean that the music is no longer unheard of and underground, it also means that it is going to be exposed to many more people, and with so many new fans it suddenly becomes unheard of NOT to hear about it. That said, here is something that everyone suddenly wants to a part of, and so now you have something that is extremely marketable and profitable. In come more bands!
So now ends this game of telephone. It started as something empowering and unique, but unfortunately ended up something completely different. Something that has been watered down with pop music beats for the ultimate radio play, so commercialized, exploited and changed that it no longer resembles what started it all. Very similar to what the mainstream has done with the Gothic and Punk image, as well.
So what exactly could we call this music that passes for Emo these days? I would call it Pop Rock. Nothing more, nothing less. It hardly resembles Punk in its sound anymore, so we can't very well call it Pop Punk, could we? Besides, those two words horribly contradict each other, so how could you possibly use them in the same sentence, let alone as a music genre?
And what about our confused and misinformed youth who seem to be convinced that the music that they are listening to is Emo? If it isn't Emo, than what is it? Simply put - it's a trend. A fad. It is a marketable way to get money out of our kids, and to buy into a look that seems like an important subculture but yet has really nothing to do with what they are calling it. Much of our youth is looking for answers, and this faux-Emo "Pop Rock" genre sings their music in ways that any kid can identify with. And you don't need to enjoy Punk or Hardcore to listen to it. It gives them a sense that somebody out there understands their pain and their turmoil.
The kids you hear about, the ones that have the asymmetrically cut black hair, tight pants, converse shoes, black eyeliner, and tight band shirts - it isn't anything new. It is a fusion of several subculture images and aspects taken from other generations. It's like a hybrid style of all things past. Does it really have anything to do with Emo? Not really, except for emotionally charged lyrics.
And what about the self-harm, suicide, and depression often associated with this way of dress? Does it really have anything to do with Emo? Not at all. Although it has a lot to do with the bands that are being associated with Emo nowadays, the bands that aren't actually part of the Emo genre. You cannot possibly tie a genre of music with the actions of self harm and development of mental illness. The fact is, music is inspirational but music does not have the power to make a perfectly happy person want to cut themselves or take their own life. Something has to be wrong with these people in the first place, and these bands have found ways to turn this pain into words. These kids are simply identifying with them.
So if this is the case, and Emo isn't part of it, than why is it that so many of our youth are depressed and hurting themselves intentionally? Why are our children so hopeless and falling apart? Has things gotten harder, or have we just grown weaker?
So many questions, but none of them seem to connect with any genre of music. Do yourself a favour - leave music out of your reasonings for the actions of individuals, and remember that music isn't the issue, and that it's simply an outlet for those who are dealing with the issue.Written by:
Kimberly HartOriginal Source: [link] EDIT:
After learning a little bit from this article about where Emo came from and what it is wrongly portrayed as today, see if you can answer this question for me: If Emo has nothing do with it (and it doesn't), why are so many of our youth depressed, hopeless, and hurting themselves intentionally as compared to other generations? How are the teens of today different compared to teen generations in the past? Have things gotten harder? Have we grown weaker? Is this epidemic of depression and sorrow real or imagined? Is it a contest of who has the most cuts, bruises or therapists? Is the rise in depression and self-injury merely a fad and trend as well?
What do YOU think? Voice your opinions!