EMO is not a dirty word

Those left behind by the suicide of a loved one often face an unresolvable search to answer the ultimate question – why?

In the aftermath of the deaths of teenagers Jodie Gater and Stephanie Gestier, psychologists have urged the community to avoid simplistic conclusions.

For sometimes there are no conclusions to be had. Suicide can be provoked by one brief and terrible moment or an overwhelming succession of terrible events; in the absence of a note, pinpointing a cause may be impossible.

Commentators have referred to Jodie and Stephanie’s cyber activities and their love of emo music.

Some ill-informed, poorly researched and deliberately stupid TV and radio types have blamed a contemporary rock sub-genre for the girls’ decision to end their lives.

Few in the media seeking to identify emo as a motivator for suicide have been to a gig, bought an album or have a clue about the sub-genre.

No, it does not stem from “goth” but rather the American underground hardcore punk scene, although fans of both styles of music share a love of black eyeliner.

Yes, emo is short for emotional and the feelings described in song relate to the darker aspects of humanity.

Last year a British newspaper attempted a useless scaremongering campaign against emo, accusing the subculture of inspiring an epidemic of self-harm.

But the bands who have been lumped into the category are pop stars wearing black eyeliner — not hardcore punks — and their lyrics are more about beating the man than beating themselves.

In fact, My Chemical Romance’s current single Famous Last Words is built around the defiant cry of “I am not afraid to keep on living/I am not afraid to walk this world alone”.

It is perfectly natural for teenagers to gravitate to musical outpourings about broken hearts, not belonging and feeling marginalised.

Doctor Says...

Through those songs — and the internet sites where adolescents go to discuss those lyrics in excruciating detail and share their fandom — teenagers discover a sense of community. They’re not so alone any more.

Music does have the power to make you feel happy, melancholic, angry, euphoric.

It can underpin a movement for climate change or making poverty history.

But if emo, or any other genre, was truly responsible for provoking suicide, consider this: There would be many, many more deaths.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
, The Daily Telegraph, Apr. 26, 2007, http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday April 26, 2007.
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