Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What is emo? - Fox News and others weigh in while Russia panics

Russian Region Discovers “Emo” Subculture

An emo girl. source:

Nizhny-Novgorod, February 11th:

A subculture known for black fingernails, angled bangs and rock music, popular among some Russian teenagers, is under attack. On Monday, the Department of Education of the Nizhny-Novgorod oblast called for a campaign to combat a movement known as “emo”. The classification, which originated from an independent music movement in the United States, is short for “emotional,” and now relates as much to a fashion style as a genre of music.

The Department’s move comes after the local branch of the Federal Security Bureau Directorate (UFSB) brought forth a report describing repeated instances of “unconventional religious trends, and civic organizations disseminating ideas of a negative youth subculture.” The information first became public from a circular published by the Education Department.

The document, in part, reads: “According to information from the Nizhny-Novgorod oblast UFSB, the oblast is seeing the growth of ideas of the emo negative youth subculture, which are connected with suicidal tendencies of teenagers 12-16 years of age.”

The text then vividly described the emo stereotype: clothing with pink and black colors and two-toned designs. Blue-black hair. Long bangs. Fingernails painted black. Piercings.

The FSB informed the educators that “the emo ideology negatively influences the unformed teenage psyche. According to the ideology, its members are immortal, and each one’s dream is to die of blood-loss in a warm bath, by cutting the veins on the wrist region. Many of the teenagers are depressed, withdrawn in their thoughts, and the girls are very inclined toward suicide on account of unrequited love. The young people drawn to the emo movement imagine that they have an ‘allergy to happiness.’”

Based on the information taken from the FSB, the department called on its teachers to maintain vigilance and to take measures directed “at explaining the negative consequences of entering into alternative civic organizations.”

Meanwhile, the emo subculture could not be reached for comment.

The Fox News report is interesting because it shows a bit about the tedency for emos to be attacked:

Farmington Daily Times - What is emo?

2 Feb 2008
ARMINGTON — The generation gap is only widening.

In 1930s Germany, swing kids defied convention by embracing jazz music and mocking Nazis.

Hippies did the same thing in 1960s America with tie-dyed T-shirts and psychedelic rock.

Then there were the goths, the punks, the skaters and the rappers — all groups of teenagers and young adults intent on expressing themselves through dress and music.

The latest fad, emo, includes dark makeup, tight clothing and a permanent frown. The style has changed, but the phenomenon known as teenagers remains the same. And it's still music that makes the world go 'round.

"I think music really influences people," said 17-year-old Shawn Yazzie. The Piedra Vista High School senior has been part of the emo culture for four years.

"Music is individuality," he said. "It depicts emotions."

The term emo is derived from "emotional" or "emotive." The culture stems from a subgenre of punk music originating in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s and revolves around displays of deep emotion
in music, dress and attitude.

Emo music often includes screaming, crying or other outpourings of emotion, Yazzie said.

"There is a deeper message in it," he said. "It's different than other music. It becomes more about a personal focus."

Teens dressing in emo fashion often dye their hair black and wear it long over one eye. Other patterns of dress include tight jeans, T-shirts that bear the names of rock or punk bands, studded belts, canvas sneakers and thick, black-rimmed glasses. Heavy eye makeup on males and females also is popular.

Like most fads, emo comes with stereotypes, Yazzie said. The dark clothing and emotional music can lead to beliefs that emo teens are depressed or suicidal.

"It's not true," Yazzie said of the stereotype. "Emo is just another way to dress. It's just like people who like to wear football T-shirts or pink all the time. We like to wear black."


Despite explanations, emo teens often are misunderstood — by their parents, teachers and peers, said Virginia Nickels, a choir teacher at Piedra Vista High School.

Nickels began teaching in 1990. She has seen teenage fads come and go as quickly as taste in music changes, but she's never seen a style so dark, she said.

"Emos are very withdrawn," she said. "They don't have a lot of friends that I see. They're quiet, and even their posture is influenced. They walk with their heads down and their shoulders slumped."

As a music instructor, Nickels witnesses firsthand how beat and lyrics can influence dress and lifestyle. But fashion and music have taken a darker turn since the leg warmers and moonwalks of the 1980s, she said.

"I see emo as being pretty dark," she said. "I don't know if it's unhappy, but I wonder what's behind the clothes and the makeup."

Being misunderstood is part of a normal teenage life, said David Johnson, clinical social worker and president of New Horizons in Farmington. Johnson treats several emo teens, but said the clothing and music alone are not a cause for concern.

Only about 2 percent of the local teen population is emo, Johnson said. Most belong to upper middle class families and most are between the ages of 13 and 17.

"They're trying to say they're different from the rest," he said. "That's their job from the teen years until they're 20 or 25."

Some teens embrace rodeo; others like heavy metal, Johnson said. Most will dabble in many different things before settling on likes and dislikes. Emo teens are no different than the rest, except they've chosen to focus on their emotions.

The dress — which for some can be disturbing — is both a reflection of those emotions and a way to identify peers, Johnson said.

"The teenage years are a search for identity," he said. "They want to know how they're different, but they also want support from peers who are similar."

As teens mature and leave home, most will grow out of the emo culture and leave their dark phases behind, Johnson said.

"Most kids run within the normal bell curve," he said. "The emo phase is transitional. As they get more input, they grow out of it. You don't see a lot of people in their 30s or 40s dressed like this."

Taking emo too far

The overwhelming emotions that often lead teens to seek out the expressive music and dark emo lifestyle can also be a sign of more serious issues, Johnson said. While most emo teens explore their emotions through poetry, art or music, others are attracted to the culture because of its focus on pain.

"Some kids need to be seen as different because they feel different," he said. "The emo culture brings out the negative, and it creates enough pain that it becomes addicting. When there's a lack of pain, they go looking for ways to experience more."

The danger, Johnson said, surfaces when teens surround themselves so completely with negativity and emotional pain that they turn to self-injury to heighten their feelings. Others turn to drug use or other illegal activities for the adrenaline rush and emotional highs.

"Sometimes kids today have to find a more extreme statement to get noticed," he said. "More extreme behaviors are accepted, so to be noticed, they have to find something really unusual to stand out from the crowd."

Self-injury usually comes into play when a teen experiences deep internal pain. The pain can stem from a traumatic event or from everyday stresses, Johnson said.

One major stress is rejection. When teens are rejected because of the way they dress or act, it becomes a rejection of who they are, Johnson said, and that creates awful pain.

"They cut themselves to change the focus from internal pain to external pain," he said. "It's part of finding an identity that's so outside the normal culture. They collect sources of pain that they can control."

Self-injury often is associated with the emo culture, but the two are not synonymous, Yazzie said. The teen knows many people who follow the emo trends, but not all are gloomy, he said.

"Most of the emo people I've met are more happy than other people," he said. "They have an identity, and if they're sad, it's because personal stuff happens and they start to identify with the music."

All teenagers are filled with angst, Nickels said, but focusing on it to the exclusion of everything else can be detrimental.

"They get so angry or so passionate that screaming is permitted and even encouraged," she said. "It's not simply expressive — it's overly expressive."

An open mind

Yazzie's mother, Cassius Yazzie, graduated from high school in 1980. Back then, she said, she wore parachute pants and styled her hair in a Mohawk.

It didn't bother her at all when her son started wearing black and growing out his hair.

"To me, it's clothes," she said. "It's his image. You have to look beyond the clothes and get to know him."

Cassius took Yazzie shopping for stylish black jeans and T-shirts and helped him with his eyeliner. When his taste of music changed, hers did, too.

"You have to be a parent," she said, "but that doesn't mean you can't understand your kids."

Instead of judging her son, Cassius asked about his changing tastes. He had this to say: "I'm being different toward what is true for me."

That was enough for Cassius, she said.

Yazzie plans to graduate this spring and pursue a career as an architect.

"It's possible I'll outgrow this," he said, "but there's still a part of me that will listen to that type of music, part of me that will wear black T-shirts."

The teenage years are the springboard into adulthood, and it's normal for people to hold on to certain things, Nickels said. The more extreme fads generally disappear with age, and she expects most emo teens will shed their dark sides.

"I think they're going to look back and wonder what they were doing," Nickels said. "But don't we all?"


blondi said...

is this serious? i think it's pathetic to think the 'emo' issue is solely about assumed 'cultural' differences. there are kids in sunny california who like whiny pop-punk, and wear girls' pants, but no matter how someone is styled, they're fine until they seek out to confront others with their distinctions. tolerable is keeping to one's self, and one's own group- a sort of 'live and let live' philos- as is claimed to be stereotypical of 'emo' kids; but if really they were so introverted as to stay in a dark room left to themselves, or crowding their music-specific venues, there'd be no issue left. anyone who brings the spotlight upon themselves and disrupts others to be heard among others deserves what's received. same has gone for any distinguishable group which has ever known minority- skins, chavs, metalheads, punkrockers, goths, gays, coloureds, etc. i hope everyone who craves this attention finds it in a dark alley, and everyone who ridicules the spotlight continues to do whatever the hell they've been doing without cumber.

Anonymous said...

great interview ^^
i wear emo clothes but i don't cut myself to feel external pain O.o .. i just wear this clothes cause i like emo music.
and i love emo boys, even if people say that they look like girls, that's not true!
they're so cute, but i guess they look better without piercings :P

Anonymous said...

Ok... honestly it gets on my nerves when people judge me and my friends just because we are emo! they think that we are freaks and cut ourselves for attention. we cut ourselves because of the discrimination and the evil of the people in the world we live in. And when people call me gothic it reallly irritates me. theres a big difference!!!!! and emo guys dont look like girls. they are absolutely 100% more attractive than the stupid little preps running around. People are just angry that we aren't little clones and dress like everyone else and act the same as everyone else. we are unique and differnt and i think that better than anything else.