Emo is one of music’s most derided and ridiculed sub cultures. Almost everyone involved has hastily attempted to erase it’s legacy – clothes have been burnt, CDs binned, MySpace photos deleted. Still, for some it remains a cherished memory: here, Alexandra Wilks sticks up for the genre.
am was a really big emo. I can admit this now. I mean, apart for all my bad poetry (‘throw me in a pit, in your emotion hole/ I am just your slash wrist barbie doll’), I really have a lot to thank emo for. In fact, apart from being kind of embarrassing, I don’t think being a massive emo was a bad thing, mainly because I was a sad teenager with nothing to be sad about, and emo gave me a legitimate reason to be a little fucker.
Aside from the class/race/gender problems that emo music and the whole emo trend was kind of ridden with – which I’m not going to get into here because I’m basically not clever enough to understand them – I don’t think emo was necessarily a bad thing. So, with help from the internet, my boyfriend and my rose tinted memory, I’ve put together a list of five good things about our generation’s most ridiculed sub culture.
1) Skinny jeans
Otherwise known as drainpipes, I really think emo kicked these off. I mean, some people (most people) would argue it was Kate Moss or some other fashionista. But obviously it was emo that brought these to the masses. And now, what kind of jeans does just about everyone from your mum to the toddler who lives next door wear? Skinny ones. Once, I wore bootleg jeans to my old work instead of my usual skinnies and everyone was so shocked they said, “IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE EVER WORN JEANS?!” No, I’d worn jeans every day to work for the past 3 months. And that, my friend, is the power of the skinny.
2) Men having feelings and such other horrendously feminine pursuits
Obviously men cry. Obviously men get their hearts broken. Obviously men feel randomly shitty sometimes because the world can be randomly shitty sometimes. OBVIOUSLY. Because when you were so busy being a gender dichotomising asshole you forgot that we’re all sentient human beings. Emo was mainly about men (and Hayley from Paramore, but we’ll get to that later), and men who were really sad and had loads of feelings. And these men were hot (sort of). These men were cool (sort of). And it was ok that they too had emotions. I’m not saying that emo music stopped gender inequality in its hateful tracks, but it raised a group of teenager girls (and boys) who were totally down with men who cried, because all men are men who cry. And that is OK.
I never really got the ginger beef. Everyone I know who is ginger is really hot. Also people are always bleaching their hair and turning ginger (guilty). Like, you know what will happen if you bleach your brown hair, it’ll go ginger. And that is FINE. Anyway, Hayley from Paramore was ginger. And hot. And really cool. To be honest, I know people who dyed their hair to look like Hayley (guilty). Cue a load of people growing up and not thinking that being ginger is really a massive problem but more just… I don’t know…a hair colour?
4) It was ok to be really uncool, or break the mould in some way
Maybe all sub cultures are about being an outsider in some way. But, they’ve always felt like that’s where the cool kids really were anyway. But emo was not very cool. It was about being the loser and making that cool. Emo bands were openly gay, openly bisexual, openly fat (Bowling for Soup), openly bullied, openly had mental health issues, openly had substance abuse issues, openly came from broken homes. Emo bands took all the things that teenagers felt ashamed of, all the things that society told you you couldn’t be, couldn’t do, couldn’t think, couldn’t feel and made it ok. I have never and will never be cool. But emo taught me that was OK.
I really like the band Daughter (in fact I named their debut album If You Leave my album of 2013 on this here website). I really like what has been called their ‘fucked up folk’ with ‘seriously uncomfortable lyrics’. But no, Guardian journalist, these kids aren’t writing seriously fucked up folk with heartbroken lyrics, they’re writing emo. “If you’re still bleeding, then you’re the lucky one”: EMO BY NUMBERS. Judging by the age of Elena and her band mate and boyf Igor these kids grew up with MCR for breakfast, Brand New for dinner and a large helping of Dashboard Confessional for tea. They’re emos. But, they’re so WONDERFUL. And that is because of emo music. Maybe.