Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Social study of emo

Last semester I didn't get a chance to do some at least vaguely academic study of "emo" in the wake of those two teen girls in Victoria committing suicide earlier this year. This semester I may get a second chance if my Contemporary Cultures tutor lets me expand an essay supposed to be about "moral panics" and goth/metal/punk subcultures to include the newly-created media conception of an "emo" subculture.

Why focus on emo? It seems like a subculture regarded with contempt rather than fear by most internet denizens. Mass media representations (the means by which the majority of the population still gets their news) on the other hand are a little different.

A few of the headlines from Australian and New Zealand newspaper headlines that came up in my initial forays into the databases to which the university so helpfully gives me access:

Sinister messages and warnings in self-loathing world of Emo
Internet an outlet for the darkest teen angst
Fears for teens in dangerous subculture
Teenagers' secret world
'It's over for me, I can't take it!' The tragic last words of MySpace suicide girls
Lost in cyberspace: Fears that new networks are breeding grounds for real-life tragedies

To be fair, there's also:

Music takes another trip down the scapegoat road, and
Ignore the scaremongers Emo is not a dirty word

but the "moral panic" aspect is pretty clear. I hope I have room in the essay to illustrate the role of the Internet as the "folk devil" for the panic, in the absence of any human being to fill the role.

Anyway, these are my favourite two quotes from the newspaper search so far based on just how poor they show elite understanding of the issue really to be:
From Tasmanian Catholic Schools Parents and Friends Federation president, Bill Button: "Parents are concerned because all of a sudden their child, if they have access to a computer, can turn into an Emo."
From Tasmania's Department of Health and Human Services Community Resilience and Mental Health Promotion, project officer Dion Butler: "I understand that some Emo groups require youth to cut themselves as an initiation -- if they don't cut, they can't join"

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