Thursday, May 08, 2008

UK's Daily Mail going for the anti-emo moral panic again

I was wondering why a google search for "emo initiation" was even being made, let alone having the searcher get refered to an entry on my blog. I guess I shouldn't be suprised by the fact that it's the Daily Mail whipping up hysteria about emo and Britain's threatened youth[tm] again.

And how: Girl, 13, hangs herself after becoming obsessed with Emo 'suicide cult' rock band is the headline. My Chemical Romance is given as the prime example of these so-called "suicide cult" bands. I admit to being pleased that, as of the time of writing, every single one of the 41 comments on the article all say basically "you can't blame My Chemical Romance for this!!!"

More disturbing - disturbing because it shows just how crap the Daily Mail's coverage is, that is - is the claim of the existence of an initiation rite into emo subculture that requires a person to cut themselves before they can join. There is simply no such thing. "Emo" is a style of music, and, more recently, a kind of fashion. That's ALL it is. Anybody can "join", since there are no membership requirements to like music and dress in a certain way.

Yes, I'm aware that the poor girl who killed herself told her father that she cut herself as part of such an initiation. Either someone lied to her that such a thing exists, or she lied to her father about the real reason she cut herself. I suspect the latter: from personal experience, I know that the self-hate associated with depression and suicidal tendencies make it almost impossible to explain what you're going through, and why you take actions that seem stupid and self-destructive, in a way that you believe another person would ever be able to understand. I find it entirely plausible that Hannah simply couldn't explain why she did what she did, and came up with that explanation simply as a way of providing an explanation for something that she couldn't actually explain.

My adolescence was spent in what could be considered an "alternative subculture" (grunge, to be exact), and I wish to high heaven that people would stop blaming subcultures for "causing" the problems that their children face once they hit adolescence and start trying not to be children any more. Please, PLEASE understand this: the subcultural identification is not responsible for the problems, the problems are responsible for the subcultural identification.

The music helps people cope with depression, suicidal feelings, the realisation that nobody else can ever know what it is you feel and what you think, not completely, or perhaps not at all. The identification with people of similar tastes help you realise that others can at least partially understand you in a way that adults - who've already gone through all this - cannot. But the process is not perfect, and the fact that it fails sometimes, as it failed in Hannah's case, is no reason to deny that help to the youth that need it.

Cracking down on "emo" tendencies will oppress for no reason those who identify with the subculture. Those who aren't drawn to it for emotional stability will be forced to wear the stigma of falsely being considered emotionally unstable. Those who are drawn to the music and the style looking for emotional stability will only become more emotionally unstable if that outlet is denied to them. It will makes things worse, not better.

*sigh* I wish parents would try to be a little more understanding of their children, especially when they're entering the phase of not being children anymore.

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