This word holds a great deal of significance to those who know what it refers to:
“A subculture of individuals unbiased by gender, race, or orientation who subscribe to a certain style of music and clothing and/or lifestyle.” (this is my definition)
Wikipedia gives a different definition:
“Emo is a style of hardcore punk which describes several variations of music with common roots. In the mid-1980s, the term emo described a subgenre of hardcore punk which originated in the Washington, D.C. music scene. In later years, the term emocore, short for "emotional hardcore", was also used to describe the emotional performances of bands in the Washington, D.C.”
But no matter which way you “cut” it (ha ha bad pun, I know) The Emo culture has become as influential as the goth and grunge culture was when I was elementary and high school. Now that I’m out of school I am far removed from this younger and newer invasion, which means that I like so many others may not understand it as much. Instead I like so many other point fingers, laugh, and make bad puns.
I’m not here to make fun of the Emo kids or their culture right now but instead to examine why they are the way they are, what made them and perhaps how they will influence the next generation.
When I was in school (I graduated HS in 1999) the popular trends were grunge (which was petering out), goth, prep, and “punk” (I use this term loosely as punk has been around a long time and it wasn’t terribly popular @ my school)
Let it also be stated that I lived in a very small town in a rural commuter suburb with very little cultural diversity.
In the late 90’s the economy was good (I paid $.88 per gallon), the president was a Pimp, and we were the children of the 80’s “me” generation. There was a larger middle class coming out of the 80s, and in general children got what they wanted, when they wanted it. (this is a vast generalization, I know.)
Punk kids did what they want when they wanted to because they were “rebels” and the goth kids did what they wanted, when they wanted to because they were “different” and were “suffering for their art/cause.” These were people who chose to stand out and make a statement possibly because of an agenda or just because it was what they believed in.
But these kids got older, got jobs and moved on up. The late 90s was filled with coffee houses, expression, and the birth of slam poetry. Make a difference was the cry, or at least be different.
Now lets move forward past the century break into the early 2000s. Bush, Iraq, 9/11, the country in general has taken a different turn; much of our youth is disenfranchised with the choices our leaders have made. High School breeds some interesting trends it would seem. Out of a society frustrated with its state of mind, and place in the world bore a mainstream emo culture.
But it would be wrong to blame it solely on “society”, musical tastes also played a huge roll in this change. Bands like Dashboard Confessional and Jimmy Eat World (which I both like before anyone goes accusing me of anything…) helped bring the emo culture into a mainstream limelight.
MTV of course plays a huge roll in influencing the fashion, style and mentality of the youth of America. (If you’re into that sort of thing that is.)
Emo is a natural progression of teens and the early twenties folk. It’s a tumultuous time for many people regardless of background or otherwise. Depression is an epidemic the world over and its no wonder why in our time, with our failing economy, rather bumbling leadership, and the failure of our credit system.
Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. This includes major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.
As it was so eloquently said by Neil in the Shoutbox – “There’s a little emo in all of us.” However as with many fads, one can take an idea or a lifestyle too far. I remember the goth kids cutting words into their arms, which was not a good idea then and its not a good idea now but it doesn’t stop people from getting too deep into a culture.
If you’d like to read more about the progression fo the Emo community (which apparently has beena round since the 1980s… who knew?) you can check out the Wikipedia entry.